I’m no parenting expert by ANY stretch of the imagination. (Did you hear that? I swear I just heard a child snicker, and I think it was mine!) I mean, I hesitate to write even a single post about parenting until after I see my grown children’s final therapy bills.
But after 15 years and 4 kids, I have made a few observations. Not cut and dry facts. Not even theories. Just observations. This post would be that—a few observations for your consideration about a stage of childhood I’m going to officially dub The Best Stage of Parenting Thus Far.
Yes, yes, yes, I know there are exceptions. Yes, yes, yes, I know every stage has its challenges and its rewards. And yes, yes, yes, I realize the “pulling away” of the teenage years is good and necessary because ultimately I want my children to move out and contribute to society as functional laundry-doing adults.
But nestled between the physically-taxing baby/toddler years and the emotionally-taxing adolescent/teen years, there lies a little slice of Parenting Utopia. It has been for me, anyway, the easiest and most enjoyable stage of parenting, by far: The stage from about Age Four to about Age Ten.
I think it’s God’s way of saying, “Great job with that baby. You passed the sleep-deprivation test with flying colors. You’ve got stellar potty training skills and you, my friend are a Time Out Ninja. Now, rest up. Replenish yourself. You’ll need it for the next round.”
Things I Love About Kids Age 4 to Age 10:
They no longer need you to…
- Wipe their bottom.
- Cut their grapes in half.
- Brush their teeth.
- Make their bed.
- Dress or undress them.
- Pour milk in their cereal.
- Wake up with them on Saturday.
- Hover over them in a bathtub.
- Start a DVD.
- Gate off the stairs or block the electrical outlets.
- Buckle their seatbelt.
- Travel with a diaper bag, a port-a-crib, a stroller or a sippy cup.
They LOVE to…
- Run and jump into your arms when they see you.
- Play outside (with friends) (without you) (but not so far away that you can’t find them).
- Put their dirty clothes in the hamper.
- Follow rules.
- Do chores.
- Make you happy.
They Still Think…
- The best day is when you show up at school.
- Santa is real.
- Disney is magical.
- You are a fashion goddess.
- School is fun.
- Five dollars is a lot of money.
- Disobeying you is scary, bad and should be avoided at all cost.
- You are all-knowing.
But they are not yet…
- Embarrassed by your very existence.
- Rolling their eyes.
- Copping a ‘tude.
- Asking to see PG-13 movies. (aka, nudity, profanity, sexual innuendo, violence)
- Saying, “Everyone gets to do this but ME.”
- Looking at the opposite sex and liking it.
- Looking at you like you’ve grown a second head.
- Challenging your rules or their boundaries.
- Questioning God.
- Texting or requiring any kind of cellular technological device demanding monthly fees, filters, limits, open doors and constant monitoring.
- Treating a simple question like, “How was your day?” as though you’ve said, “Please explain the Pythagorean Theorem.”
- Expanding their social circle beyond what you can immediately control requiring you to drive places and ask questions and call parents to find out what kind of supervision will be at the sleep-over and if there are guns in the friend’s house or older brothers in the friend’s house. And suddenly it’s a genuine concern that maybe there is an adult male in the friend’s house who views pornography and might possibly think your teenage daughter is hot.
So there you go—for those of you with very small children, look up! For your redemption draweth nigh. There cometh a stage of parenting in the not-so-distant future with nary a tantrum nor a potty accident. I promise.
If you have kids ages four-ish to ten-ish, Congratulations! You are in the middle of Parenting Utopia and probably didn’t even know it. Look around. Kick back. Enjoy the view. Because as much as I hate to inform you…it ends. I’m sorry. I just does. *sigh*
If you have teens or older, this would be a great time to enlighten me, encourage me…lie to me. Anything regarding the challenging stage of raising adolescents and teens. I’m assuming it gets better. Right?
I’m all ears.