I have been pondering lately how things have changed. I like to do that every so often so that I don't just let life pass by without notice. Birthday season has just ended for our kids and I've been noticing that having a 7 year old, a 5 year old and a 3 year old is different than what we have experienced before. The Pillowfight Fairy (age 7) is acting like a second grader in her love of silly and gross things. She also has been showing a lot of teenagerish angst. This of course makes me wonder what is in store for the future.
The Adrenaline Junkie (age 5) is making the preschooler to kindergartener transition. She is becoming slightly more aware of what's going on around her and she finds it upsetting. No longer does she see her brother running away from her and think: "oooh... a game of chase!" No, now she starts wailing and crying that she's going to lose her brother. Instead of enjoying the Fantasia 2000 video like she used to, she cries for a half hour over what would happen to Donald Duck if he didn't get on the ark. Our older one went through a similarly emotional transition. But, I try to take it in stride and see it as part of her development as she grows older and gains maturity. The constant tears are annoying, but it shows that she is starting to make connections and think more deeply than she previously did. I suspect this means that we will probably be able to make more progress with her schooling in the coming year. Ironically, I was an extremely emotional child growing up and found that my tendency to give in to tears constantly, hurt me in the long run. As a result I don't have much sympathy with the constant crying and whining.
The Happy Boy (age 3) is not a toddler anymore. He is acting more like a big kid. He enjoys many of the same things that his sisters enjoy. They even play well together on occasion. One of his biggest strengths and also one of his biggest weaknesses is that he is more self-sufficient than his sisters at that age. In other words, he will do what he can for himself, instead of asking for help. While a good thing in general, sometimes problems would be prevented if he would simply ask for help.
It feels a little odd not having a baby or toddler anymore. We do miss having a tiny little child in the family, but they sure are a lot of work. I understand why people stop after having only one or two kids. As the kids get older, the physical labor I was doing gets easier. Two of my kids can mostly dress themselves, are potty trained and can take their dishes to the kitchen when they are through with them. I see that as a tremendous help in my work load. My youngest enjoys helping me bring in the groceries and sorting the laundry. I can tell you, that I look forward to the day when I've taught the kids to cook and to clean the house effectively. A shared load is so much easier to bear.
Of course with older kids come the more complicated problems. Relationship issues, hormones, power struggles, mind games, are some of the things I am not looking forward to. As with all things you lay the foundations of the later lessons while they are still small. So I keep trying to teach them how to treat people with respect and kindness. Though I sometimes think just teaching good table manners and that not every activity is a competition is far harder than I imagined.
When my parents used to complain that I was stubborn, I would respond that I came by it honestly from both sides of the family. Sigh.... I suspect Tim and I will hear and see a lot of ourselves echoed in our children in the coming years.