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Your Kid's Not 24 Months Old, He's 2! Just Say 2!

Photograph by Twenty20

I get it. Counting your baby’s age by months is pretty simple. When someone comes up to you in a store and asks how old your little cherub is, no math needed. Just recall the last number you said aloud. Last month – was it 13? Well, then, today, you’re golden if you go with 14. Just remember the last number, and round up. Just add one. Easy as pie.

So if you are standing there, mumbling under your breath "Twelve months equals one year but I don’t think we’re quite to 24…" then go ahead. Say the months. Let them fall right out of your mouth. But if you know the 12-month time span your baby fits in, please choose to say that instead. Like the rest of us do.

Like we all do.

Because when people ask how old your child is, they likely don’t really care. They're probably asking simply to show interest in your life or because it feels like it somehow relates to their life. Like, they have a baby of their own and they want to know if your baby is doing what their baby is doing so that they know which of the babies is superior. (You know it's true.)

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They don’t actually give a shit how old your baby is. There are, of course, exceptions but they are rarer than you like to believe. Also in case you don’t believe me, please try to rack your brain and think how even you do not give a shit about how many exact months old someone else’s baby is.

The reason that this is done, of course, is because it's a good indicator of development. Babies at two weeks are entirely different from babies at two months, and three-month-olds are entirely different from six-month-olds. It’s astounding, to be honest. Parents and doctors need to check in on an individual baby’s monthly progress to ensure that it is roughly adhering to the overall average, but outside of that, there’s really no need to obsess over the months your spawn has been out of the womb.

At least not publicly.

Here’s the real problem with spouting out months when a nice, round year would do: alienation. It’s alienating to not understand why someone is saying something abnormal to you. It’s alienating to feel like they want you to care more than you naturally do. When parents throw around months like they mean something to non-parents, they alienate non-parents.

As for me, not even my doctor cares about the details anymore. Because my baby just turned two. That’s 24 months, for the record.

In my pre-kid days, I used to think the purpose behind the months-for-age was to spell out how special babies were. They need special foods and special sleep times and special tender treatment and even special categories of life times. I thought annoying parents were telling all us non-parents that their babies were oh-so-special and that their lives were oh-so-special, too. Honestly, I thought they were being assholes.

And I know they weren't trying to be obnoxious, but they were. I’ve had a baby now, and I can now admit this annoying truth: babies are special. But they can still be defined with hard numbers.

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So to parents that came before me: I forgive you for alienating me with your numbered wizardry. It was super annoying, but I get it. To the current parents of the young: try to figure out who’s really asking when you volley back the answer of your baby’s age. Maybe don’t bother with the months. Maybe just give us what we all know: a simple "One" or "Two."

As for me, not even my doctor cares about the details anymore. Because my baby just turned two. That’s 24 months, for the record. Baby-dom is officially dead.

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