A month ago, I met another young mother and her baby, just two months older than mine. We were the first to arrive at a social event and thus were expected to socialize. I attempted some small talk. When I ran out of questions about her lifestyle, family situation and baby’s age, the conversation faltered. We sat in silence watching as her baby performed a few tricks that my child had not yet learned. In desperation, I said one of the cliches that everyone keeps in their back pocket to relieve awkward moments. “It’s amazing how quickly babies change.”
Immediately I was sorry that I resorted to an truism, and I began wondering if it were even true.
Unfortunately, I did my wondering aloud. “Do babies actually change quickly?” I asked. “Maybe they don’t. Certainly, they seem to change rapidly to us, but if you consider their age in proportion to ours, it could be considered normal. When my son was 2 months old, he was still learning to smile and wiggle. At 4 months, he was squealing, playing and grasping toys. To us, 2 months of time is very short, but to him, in those 2 months he doubled his age.”
The other woman stared at me. She smiled a little and looked at me as if I had just claimed to eat raw liver three times a day.
I tried to explain myself farther. “When he doubles his age again to 8 months, I hope he will be crawling and babbling. These are huge developmental changes, but I also had a large developmental change from 13 to 26, which would be double my original age.”
“Yes, there is a big difference between 13 and 26,” she conceded, but said nothing more.
Hoping that I made some sense to her, I continued. “When I double my age again, to 52, I’m sure I will change even more.”
She was silent. “So, maybe babies don’t change as quickly as they seem.”
Again, uncomfortable silence, mercifully broken by the arrival of a another guest.