For a long time I referred to my son as a baby. In fact, I referred to “the baby” for so long that people I didn’t see regularly often thought I was talking about a second child. Most people it turns out, don’t refer to their child as baby much past eighteen months. They certainly aren’t referring to their 3yo as a baby. So why was I?
I thought about it a lot these past few months, especially when we were trying to break Castle from diapers for good. We would say things like, “Only babies wear diapers. Are you a big boy or a baby?” “Baby,” was the inevitable response. You couldn’t deny his logic. He was willing to be a baby if it meant he got his way. Perhaps because he already wears so many relatively negative labels, being called a baby was the least of his concerns. Perhaps he was just saying whatever it took to get his way. Or perhaps, he simply didn’t see being a baby as being negative. After all, I only stopped calling him one at three and a half.
Some people stop thinking of their little ones as babies as soon as they can walk. Ours walked at 8.5 months. He was still very much a baby. For most though, children stop being babies when they can communicate with more than cries, are potty-trained, no longer need an oral object (like a pacifier) to self soothe. Of all these qualifiers, communication is by far the key. Most of the time children reach these milestones somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 years old.
Castle though is delayed in several areas. He almost never spoke before 3, and like many others with Einstein Syndrome traits*, didn’t really fill in his vocabulary until 3.5. His grammar is just now filling in. He potty trained a little earlier than predicted, but still has accidents now at 4. We limit his pacifier to bedtime and nap time, but he does still use one. (Both his doctors and ST approve! Mommy doesn’t.) Is it any wonder that for longer than normal I thought of my kid as a baby?
For me, the real turn came between 3 and 3.5. Before then I had a child in diapers who primarily communicated through crying. If that doesn’t describe a baby, I don’t know what does. The fact that he was nearly 3 feet tall didn’t factor into my world view at all.
Now though, my walking, talking, potty-trained, energetic boy is very much a big kid. And although, I’m very relieved he grew up, I do sometimes miss my little infant.
*Castle has never been diagnosed with Einstein Syndrome. His diagnosis is PDD-NOS. An Einstein Syndrome diagnosis, which is still in its infancy of being defined, is pretty rare. Castle though does share many of the traits that define the syndrome. Of course, having traits does not a diagnosis make. I have many traits of dyslexia, but I am not diagnosed as being dyslexic. Einstein Syndrome is actually a fascinating idea. For more information, see this Scientific American article.