One of the joys of this week for me has been spending time with my wonderful, smart and adorable nieces. They are ages 5,4, and 20 months so we have been busy and on a schedule. We have to feed them at the same time every day, all day. We have to schedule activities and outings around naps and said eating schedule. We have to allow for melt downs (they don’t very often as they are really good girls but they are little) and for just plain old preschool behavior. After a couple of days of this, I realized how much of this sort of parenting I have forgotten and how much I take for granted the wonderfulness that is having teenagers.
As someone who has a degree in elementary education and early childhood, ran a preschool and LOVED having little children, I honestly was concerned about the teen years as a parent. You see, I was a pretty good mom of little ones: we made our own playdough and ooblik, had a sand and water table, every art supply you could buy, cooking projects, rain walks, weekly trips to the zoo or children’s museum, and the list goes on. But then Kayla turned 13. Now what?
Turned out, all kinds of things. My kids still love art, but now we can take them to art museums and get more sophisticated art projects going. We still cook, only they can do almost all of it and it’s really tasty! We can go for longer walks, we can go to nicer restaurants, we can go to history museums and the kids sometimes know more than Mike and I do! We don’t have as many meltdowns (ours mostly revolve around needing to keep teenagers stomachs full) and a bathroom break no longer involves me. We talk about real literature (now don’t get me wrong, I love a Sandra Boyton book as much as the next person) and have inside jokes about novels such as “The Old Man and the Sea.” We can talk about politics and watch the same tv shows-and I don’t mean Dora or Barney.
Traveling is most definitely where I notice the difference. I no longer worry about two year old Andrew running off and trying to board a plane for London (happened at Sky Harbor in Phoenix pre-9/11, sigh) or making sure that we all sit together. Heck, I checked us in for our Southwest flight this morning and Andrew is even in a different seating group and Mike and I just laughed about how he will have to board after the rest of us. Pretty funny when you think about how he tried to board a plane without us 12 years ago.
I always thought I would miss having really little children because I loved that phase of parenting so much. But I have to admit that I am really loving this phase as well and it has so many perks as compared to having young children. Such as I am writing this blog post at 3:30 in the afternoon and can do so uninterrupted while my brother in law deals with crying preschoolers. Life has definitely changed and I think it’s awesome and wouldn’t want it any other way.