Monday, February 16, 2015

Keeping Your Children Little

Time goes so quickly. One day you have these small children who are leaving messes around the house, their noses are dripping, and no one seems to be able to sleep at the same time. You may find yourself wishing they would "hurry up and outgrow this".
One Of The Few Moments Everyone Was Sleeping
They do, and they do it in the blink of an eye. You turn around to pour a glass of wine and suddenly they are teens and preteens. They want to sleep all the time, they have pimples on their forehead and the boys may have fuzz on their chin, and now no one wants to play anything so no messes. Great! Right? The heart of the mother is a strange thing. This change was expected. You knew it was coming from the time they were newborns who couldn't pick up their own heads, but it still takes your breath away. Or, at least, it did for me.

Today kids seem to "grow up" swiftly. I began to look, really look, at my kids and their peers. They were good kids, all of them, but adults seemed determined that they would become little grown ups as soon as possible. I heard mothers saying that their eight year old daughter was simply "too old" for dolls and so they had taken them away and packed them up. "She asked for American Girl things for Christmas! Can you believe that? And her in the THIRD GRADE!!" It cast my mind back to my doll playing days which, I blushingly remembered, lasted for me and my friends through sixth grade and a bit beyond. And now little girls, young girls, were being told they were too old to play? Boys seemed to be hitting that particular point even earlier. By the time my boys were skipping up the sidewalk to kindergarten so many of their classmates were so "booked" they didn't have time for "babyish things" like play dates and birthday parties. They had ball tournaments and private practice sessions with coaches that had to come first. I was gobsmacked the first birthday party I tried to throw. "I'm sorry. Little Johnny has to drive six hours one way on Saturday for a state tournament." State? We went to state when I was in high school. Now five year olds were going? Oh yes they assured me, these kids were "focused".
Sister And Brother, Ages 4 & 7
We did our best, bobbing along in that fast paced existence, trying to find some balance so they could have memories of playing dolls with their friends and having birthday parties where they pinned tails on donkeys with their friends and were serenaded with Happy Birthday before blowing out their candles. Thankfully, my older two each had a couple of good friends whose parents were, like me, in no rush to end the sticky sweetness of the grade school years. My youngest? Well, by the time he joined the fray it was even harder to suss out boys who weren't mini teenagers. My heart ached as he asked "Can I have a birthday party?" (All your classmates said they had ball games and practices, sweetie.) "Can we call someone to come play?" (None of the boys play anymore, honey. Not unless there is a scoreboard involved.) I did have a good friend who had a son a couple of years younger and thankfully she shared my view of childhood being precious. We had many play dates and a few sleep overs with him and his sister (who was one of my daughter's best friends).
Baby Of The Family, Age 2
As everyone got older, I noticed more and more how much we were pushing them into acting older than they were. By the time our children would go into high school they would possibly have "graduated" from preschool, preK 4, kindergarten, fourth grade, and eight grade. The year my oldest transferred from elementary to middle school (grades 5-8) I found out that eight graders were renting a boat after graduation for their own version of "project graduation/senior trip". That was just too much in my mind, and it started the wheels turning in my head telling me that maybe our family was a bit of a square peg. Maybe I needed to do something before my kids became jaded teens who already had a copy of dad's credit card and had long had a cell phone
(Full disclosure: two of mine do have cells. They got them as twelve year olds because they had, by that point, gotten more involved in things like gymnastics, children's theater, or were venturing off to nearby parks or out riding bikes and I wanted them to be able to reach me if something ended early or they got lost or hurt. Also, we, like many, did away with the landline so I wanted them to be able to call me if I ran errands and they stayed home.)
Growing So Fast, Ages 15, 11, and 12 )
Putting the brakes on the fast slide into adulthood was approximately one third of our decision to homeschool. The other two thirds deserve their own post, and will, eventually, get them. We have seen big changes since we brought them home. Good changes, to our eyes. My oldest has gone back to enjoying being outside. He isn't climbing trees or playing in the mud, but he fishes and is planning to tap a few trees with a friend. He still has fun sledding when we get a big snow. My daughter continued to play with dolls until shortly after her 12th birthday. She went from playing "babies" to dressing them up and writing scripts for them to "act out" in stop motion. The youngest? Well, he will probably be young at heart forever. He still loves bicycling, skateboarding, playing at the playground, swimming, shooting hoops in the driveway, and bouncing on the trampoline. During the summer I joke that he leaves after breakfast and we have to hunt him down and drag him home for supper and a much needed bath....and that makes this mother's heart happy!

Life Is A Journey, Not A Destination
Enjoy The Ride!

No comments:

Post a Comment