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Parents' Pride 

click to enlarge Joni and Megan
  • Joni and Megan

When my daughter, Joni, hit 6 weeks old, the countdown to her first "social smile" began. All the baby books said that between six and eight weeks, she'd start smiling to communicate happiness — not just because she'd farted.

The weeks passed, but Joni's stony face didn't budge. Her grumpy demeanor was cute. Still, I started to worry that she could smile, but was so unhappy she chose not to. Worse, my friends' roughly-the-same-age babies were flashing their million-dollar grins all over Facebook.

At 9 weeks, the morning after Joni got her immunizations, she smirked for a split second while gazing at something to the left of my face. More than three weeks passed before she looked me in the eyes and gave me a full-fledged smile.

I know, millions of babies smile all the time. But when Joni does it, my heart triples in size. In my pre-mom life, I couldn't understand why parents take pride in the most insignificant things their kids do. I get it now.

Which is partly why I'm thrilled to be back at Kids VT after three months of maternity leave. I'm approaching these pages with a better understanding of what you, our readers, experience as parents. Also, I'm excited to obsess about something other than Joni's sleep cycle (see "Sleep No More," page 51).

I've learned a thing or two in my brief time as a mom. First, comparing your kid to everyone else's, especially when it comes to developmental milestones, is a recipe for insecurity. Second, there's no greater joy than watching your child grow. Each tiny accomplishment is cause for celebration.

Joni won't be entering the Kids VT Coloring Contest any time soon, but I love flipping through the creative drawings we get from kids each month. Now, finally, I understand how you, their parents, must feel. Those inventive embellishments and quirky titles? They emerged from your kids' incredible brains. This month's issue celebrates some of our all-time favorite creators in "Outside the Lines," (page 18).

I hope you enjoy seeing our interviews with them in print — and that they'll make you smile.

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