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A Word on Milestones...

On your 2nd birthday


by Jennifer Lendvai-Lintner


It’s your birthday, sweet girl! Shortly, you’ll be due for checkups, and I’ll field the volley of questions about your milestones. Doctors will want to know about your progress, and they’ll attempt to use cold questionnaires to track them. They’ll want to know if you point, which vowel sounds you make, and if you understand ‘No’. I'll have to report you don’t yet sit, crawl, or watch an object as it falls. Ticks on a developmental checklist don’t tell your story, little love. Those milestones weren’t designed to mark your road.


How do I measure your year?


For the first time, we picked apples in a sweet-smelling orchard on a cloudy October day.


This winter—your first in the Northeast—we cuddled by a snapping, cracking fire more nights than I can count. Big brother and big sister gathered snow in Tupperware for you to feel, but you yanked your little hand away from its frosty chill!


We went to your first story time beneath a grove of trees. You lounged in my lap, and we listened to toddler tales. I danced you to silly songs. Long after the librarian left, we lazed on our blanket— delightfully content in the cool shade of big, green trees.


You make music! You bang a steady boom, boom, boom on your lollipop drum and hammer tinkling, metallic notes on your rainbow glockenspiel.


This year you got your first wheelchair and first pair of plum-framed glasses; the lenses magnify your eyes—impossibly blue.


Clever girl, I’ll tell them you’ve created your own language! You speak to us in raspberries—all different kinds for all different reasons. You have tired ones, chatty ones, angry/frustrated/complaining ones. You have the softest, sweetest, cooing ones with which you speak your love.


Your year has been rich and full with markers that matter. So on a recent summer evening—perched high on a deck overlooking dunes and the Atlantic beyond—as we listened to the rumble of waves while the house behind us teemed with family, I could soak in the balmy, salty air and recognize the moment: your first family vacation, yes, but more importantly—


a shimmering,

precious,

God-given


Milestone.



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[Image description: Under the shade of trees, the author and her daughter Hilde sit on a blanket in the grass at Hilde's first story time. Hilde is sitting on her mom's lap in a green, flowered outfit and sports her plum glasses. Jennifer wears a flowered dress, denim jacket, paisley mask, and sunglasses on her head.]

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