Popular thought often suggests that milestones are something our kids outgrow, that eventually they catch them all like so many Pokémon, and then life tends to level out from there. First steps? Check. First words? Check. First time sleeping through the night? Big check. Then the kids are in school and the next thing you know they are moving out and never calling you unless they want something. There will be a first time for that, too. Check.
I happen to disagree with that sort of sentiment, popular though it may be. That is, all of the aforementioned moments are, obviously, legit milestones, worthy of countless blog posts, holiday newsletters, and Facebook updates, but they are just the beginning—milestones, like any gem, are forever. And they only get better.
For instance, my oldest son is now in middle school, but he is still jumping rung to rung on the milestone ladder. Each day brings new achievements, granted, some may not be as readily recognizable as others, but they are there and we try to acknowledge them whenever we can. The past few years have seen impressive growth spurts in both his height and responsibility. He makes dinner for the family at least once per week. He walks the dogs. He cares about personal hygiene. He does his homework without throwing a fit (usually). All of which were milestones in their own right at one point, and we were happy to have met them, even as new challenges appeared on the horizon. However, those don’t even come close to making the top three.
Yes, I am going to rank my oldest son’s milestones. I’m that guy. Apparently.
His first lie
To be clear, I’m not saying that kids should lie; however, lying doesn’t necessarily deserve the bad rap that it usually gets. Lying, aside from the many negatives (okay, mostly negatives), stimulates creativity, quick thinking and resourcefulness. It stretches the imagination. Those aren’t bad things, and all of them can be found in this holiday-themed milestone, now with skeletons!
His first social activism
We are a family of vegetarians, which may seem like enough activism for any kid, but not him. He wanted to do more (and still does). Keep in mind, he isn’t someone that enjoys the limelight, or any light really—he prefers to stay behind the scenes of anything with an audience—but that didn’t stop him from approaching the superintendent of our school district about creating a new club for animal rights and the environment. Not only did the superintendent agree, but he also became the club’s advisor. In a matter of weeks my son found himself standing in front of his peers, speaking his truths, and organizing their action accordingly. I honestly don’t know if I could be any prouder.
His first whatever is next
You didn’t really think that I could rank my son’s milestones did you? Yes, the two situations I mentioned were fantastic, because he is fantastic, and he is growing at a milestone per minute. There have been first catches, roller coasters (then bigger roller coasters), riding a bike, and honor roll stickers. There have been bad times, too: the first loss of a grandparent (followed too quickly by another), the first friend-turned-bully, sudden stitches, and a pet buried beneath the old cherry tree. Those are milestones, too, and the lessons that come with them, hard as they may be. They all work to prepare him for the next next thing.
I, for one, cannot wait.