I looked at my friends with toddlers and school-aged kids and longed for the day when my child wouldn't be attached to me in such a literal way.
Of course, as it turns out, those early days quickly disappeared. Sometimes I miss the baby days, but I also enjoy the advantages of not having an infant in the house. Now that I've got a 6-year-old and an almost 4-year-old, life looks really different.
But I've been noticing lately that there are good and bad sides to having kids who are getting older and more independent. So for those of you still wandering in the hazy exhaustion of newborn-ness, here are five trade-offs that you have ahead of you.
The Good: Now that Junius can read he can better entertain himself and Pippi. He's also better at answering my questions because he has access to a lot more information.
The Bad: Now he can read everything -- including speed limit signs (which may or may not correspond to the speed of my car), event announcements (that I wasn't planning on taking him to) and other less appropriate material. It's like baby-proofing, but different.
The Good: Junius gets himself up every morning and gets dressed before waking us up -- he's our school day alarm clock. And now Pippi is old enough to dress herself, too -- great that the only person I have to dress in the morning is myself.
The Bad: There's no telling what they'll come up with. For Junius, it's probably red gym shorts with a different-shade-of-red t-shirt. For Pippi, well... she could go through as many as four (ahem) unusual selections in one day, usually involving something a) sparkly, b) pink, c) flouncy, d) too big/small or e) all of the above (see photo).
The Good: My kids can make their own breakfast now, reach the snacks in the pantry and fix juice out of the fridge -- again, one less chore that falls on my plate.
The Bad: They're making their own food choices sometimes without asking, meaning they're fixing Chex Mix for breakfast or eating the last banana that I needed for smoothies.
The Good: Because Junius really is our household alarm clock, it's very helpful for him to be able to tell time. It's also nice to tell him that a friend is coming over at 4:00 and have that actually mean something.
The Bad: It's a lot harder to convince him that it's time to go to bed when he can look at the clock and tell that it's only 6:15.
The Good: So it's probably not our most stellar parenting move, but we've discovered that we can sleep in a little on Saturdays now that the kids are able to work the TV (including the TiVo) on their own. Hey, I still remember sitting in front of the test pattern with my brother on Saturday mornings waiting for cartoons and I turned out okay -- trusting that my kids will, too.
The Bad: If we're not up with them, then they're choosing their own programming -- which is often the Disney channel (and I'm sorry, but I think most of those shows are terrible) or occasionally something less-than-kid-friendly from TiVo.
As they say, the grass is always greener... If you've got a newborn, what older stage are you looking forward to? Or if you've got older kids, what mixed blessing of the future should I be worrying about now?