Now I have a four year old and a one year old. If I want them to stay in one spot, I better buy them their own individual doggy crate. Not only are they mobile now but they are into everything. They can take a room and flip it upside down in record time. Yes, they are more independent, but even though you’ve celebrated that they’re potty trained, those of us new to this point in parenthood didn’t realize this was just the start of the “Mommy, come wipe my butt!” phase.
Then with that level of independence comes their decision making process. This is always a fascinating one to me. My daughter never ceases to amaze me with this one. The other day she was playing outside with her boy cousin, who I guess decided to just pee outside. A few minutes later she comes up to where the adults are sitting on the deck and says, “I pooped behind the tree.” How do you keep a straight face to that? What do you do? Knowing my daughter she was probably telling the truth, but I wasn’t about to go down there and look for it. My sister in law came to my rescue with, “Well, did you wipe?” Of course she said no, so my sister in law replied with, “I guess you better go do that.”
Yes, they can talks so that should be easier, right? Except now they can lecture you too. My daughter loves to remind me that I shouldn’t use bad words, which I don’t often but damnit, I cannot break myself of the word damnit. My husband tells her every time I let it slip I owe a dollar to the swear jar. Guess they can look at it this way. By the time we’ve all survived their childhood, I will have enough saved in that swear jar I can take us all on a first class vacation.
As they get older they develop this thing called a mind of their own. And that mind of theirs doesn’t always agree with that mind of ours! They get set on things, like a binkie or not sleeping in their bed, and then we have to do this thing called real parenting. And real parenting is way harder than just feeding, changing, and holding them because that’s all we have to do for the most part that first year. Now you have to let them know that everything is not their way (it’s my way J ) , that we have to have consequences for our actions even when they’re looking at us with those big pretty eyes and fat tears.
But we also have to teach them. We have to teach them about fairness with their friends and siblings, about disappointments and how to handle them, about helping others and doing their homework, and how to be a good person and friend. By the time we’re done, that first year of parenting is looking more and more like a piece of cake compared to this real parenting thing.
As time goes on and we butt heads over our differences but share in the joys and the troubles of their journey of childhood, we realize with each day we love them more than the day before. Maybe it’s the intensity of that growing love that leads to probably one of the hardest parts of parenthood-the one that requires us to let them go.