First, you answer in weeks.
He’s two weeks old, you say. Or he’ll be six weeks on Friday.
The weeks fly by and you feel like you’re always giving a new answer.
Around the time he hits 10 or 12 weeks, your answers start to sound silly, and you realize it’s time to graduate him to months.
He’s three months old, you say. Seven months. Ten months.
When he turns a year old, you are shocked to find yourself saying that word: year. It’s almost too much to comprehend and so once the birthday gifts have all been opened and the balloons have finally deflated, you find yourself reverting back to a more comfortable measure of time.
He’s thirteen months. Fifteen months, eighteen months.
What comes next is inevitable yet jarring. You hear the question again – the question you’ve answered hundreds of times in his short life: How old is he? As always, you answer instinctively: Nineteen months.
But this time, you see a brief flicker of confusion cross their faces as they compute the large number of months into years. And you realize that your description has become more abstract and less clear to those who don’t mark the passage of time by the arrival of the 21st of every month.
These months, they’re significant to you. A month is the difference between drinking from a bottle or graduating to a sippy cup. A month can watch a crawler morph into a walker. A month can bring 5, 10, 20 new words.
But to everyone else, he’s a year and a half. Or maybe he’ll be two this fall.
It’s a small thing. Maybe even an inconsequential thing. But somehow it feels like a milestone. Just one more indication that this kid is going to continue to outgrow his babyhood, his childhood whether you’re ready or not.