My daughter is very smart, we always knew she would walk early (13 months is early right?). Her first word was "Good" followed quickly by "Dad", "Mumma" and "Nanna". She has used a spoon since six months and explores the world in ways far beyond her developmental age.
At least I like to believe all of this, truthfully she is a developmentally average child. She does some things a bit faster and other things a bit slower and all in all is perfectly normal. One of the things I love about parenting is the freedom to believe in the wonders of a growing child. We have a rule in our house "if it sounds like she said it, then it counts". We happily, and knowingly, count lots of words that would be doubtful to an outsider. We apply this same logic to all manner of things related to our daughter, in particular to parenting techniques and choices.
While there are of course some important parenting choices that have major lifetime implications,such as breastfeeding, nourishment, and discipline to name a few. However there are a great many other choices that, while important, have much more limited or unproven repercussions. Things such as the age a baby is first put on the potty, when to start swimming lessons, whether you say "good girl", the choice of baby carrier or pram etc. These latter parenting techniques can differ greatly within a circle of parents, and even more across a generational gap. As parents we all consider options and alternatives and make a wise decision that fits with our family, and then we believe in those choices.
I cannot know whether any of the parenting choices I made will make one skerrick of difference as my daughter grows older. I cannot even look to my parents for an example, as they raised children to survive in a world much different to this one. Truthfully, I fully expect that some of my choices are completely unimportant. However, without the benefit of hindsight, I can only make my parenting choices and believe in them.
On occasion I have encountered older relatives who feel the need to set me straight, to make me aware that my choices are wrong or worse to tell me that “it wasn’t a word” (gasp). I have tried in vein to explain what I have just written, but it goes over their heads, I want to be free to believe.
Free to believe in my daughter and to watch and enjoy every new and wonderful thing that she does. Free to believe in myself, that my parenting choices are valid and worthwhile. Free to believe.