The wonderful thing about babies and toddlers and little children is…well, that they are babies, and toddlers and little children. And then, in a blink of an eye, they seem to require more space, more food, more duct tape and a new car all to themselves. They grow older, occasionally wiser and, if you are lucky, quieter. And they no longer do the stuff they used to do.
Which, depending on how you look at it, can be either a good or a bad thing.
The ‘good’ starts when your children stop being so dependent, and you get your life back. The little munchkins no longer insist on joining you in the toilet. They stop pestering you to cut up their dinner or take their Lego apart. A ‘quick trip to the shops’ moves from myth to reality, now that it can happen sans the hissy that used to follow their aborted attempts to pull price tags off shelves. Hell, you might even make it to the shops for a long trip, if you so choose, since you no longer need a babysitter.
There comes a time – in my house, it’s in the kids’ first decade – that you no longer need to get their lunchboxes packed each morning since a) they are old and ugly enough to do it themselves, and b) you have long realised that they don’t eat what you pack anyway. These types of ‘no more lunch making’ milestones are pretty awesome. They are a sign that your sometimes-lovely, sometimes-painful children are on their way to growing into capable and responsible adults, who will one day leave home, get a dog, and a credit card, and a job that they will probably remember to turn up on account of needing money to buy Barbies and iPads and ice cream for their own sometimes-lovely, sometimes-painful children.
The not so good part is that that all these now grown up, capable and responsible children – if they are anything like me and so many other reasonably sensible adults – stop doing some pretty cool stuff. I have no problem drawing up a list:
Stepping into puddles on purpose.
Double dipping Nutella straight out of the jar.
Wearing crumpled clothing and awful rah rah skirts.
Running across hallways
See what I mean? Chances are, the reason we don’t do those things any more is because someone, somewhere along the line (most likely, our very own, very sensible mothers) said ‘aren’t you too old for this?’. And thus, in the (arguably questionable) quest to gain maturity and pay off the mortgage, we too often forsake our ability to get lost in the moment, to be spontaneous, to notice the colours of rainbows. It kind of sucks. And it explains, perhaps, why I frequently find myself oscillating between wanting my kids to grow up and wanting them to stay kids forever.
It is an existential dilemma. Still, one happy reality dawns, once you put some thought into it: old age. Thankfully, there comes a time when it becomes perfectly socially acceptable – sometimes even expected – to revert to a second childhood of sorts. Some would call it senility, others eccentricity. Whatever. I’m kind of looking to it. Once I am 100% sure that I am, indeed, all grown up, capable and responsible, and that I have sufficiently supervised my own children to become the same, I have every intention to let loose and rediscover the long lost joy of swapping price tags on supermarket shelves.
Happy aging, my friends!