It’s hard to believe, since it feels like my three children were babies just last week, but with three boys, ages 6, 8 and 10, I no longer have small children. I am now the parent of kids who are too big to play in the mall playland, who are tall enough to go on the big water slide at the swimming pool, and two who are legally old enough to stay at home by themselves.
There are so, so many reasons why it is wonderful that my kiddos have passed the small child stage—No more diapers! They buckle their own seat belts!—and are entering the larger, more fun big-kid phase. Chief among these reasons is the fact that they can read accurately enough to consistently fetch us the right beer from the fridge. They also remember little tidbits that I forget, like what kind of coffee my husband buys or on what level we parked at the airport. They’re old enough to help with household projects instead of “help” with household projects and they’re useful for helping me pass video game levels that I cannot complete by myself.
Another reason that I’m enjoying life as my kids get older is because the things they find enjoyable now are far more interesting to me. Think less Barney the Dinosaur, more Jurassic Park; less Jar Jar Binks, more The Empire Strikes Back. Frankly, the older my kids get, the more fun “family fun” gets.
What? You’re still enjoying watching your toddler learn to form sentences and delight in pointing at the most hilarious things—like window blinds? Here are some more comparisons to prove to you how awesome big kids are.
More science channel, less The Wiggles: Frankly, that Wiggles reference may be out of date. I'm so far out of small kids' television that I don't even know what they're watching these days. The last time I kept my oldest son home sick, we watched the science channel. There was a time when sick days meant singing “Fruit salad, yummy, yummy” 800 times. No more. Welcome to The Land of Shared Interests. It’s awesome here.
More laser tag, less tag: Once your kid is old enough to hit the laser tag battlefield, you can eliminate all that pointless running around grassy fields and up and down playground equipment in favor of the far more entertaining—and less vigorous—laser tag version. Bonus points because you get to work out your frustration at your kids by mock shooting them and their friends.
More chess, less Candyland: The caliber of games you get to play with an older child is a VAST improvement over having to lose Candyland and Chutes & Ladders on purpose six times every day.
More conversations about history and social issues, fewer conversations about boogers: Although I do have boy children, so we still have conversations about farting. It’s not all the history of the American Indian and the morality of health care reform over here.
More lip gloss in my purse, fewer baggies of Cheerios: There was a time when I wouldn’t leave the house without a bag full of wipes, snacks, toys, and an extra set of clothes for me and my kids. Nowadays, sometimes I don’t even take a bag at all when we go somewhere.
More funny jokes and appropriate sarcasm, fewer knock knock jokes that a small jokester doesn’t understand but makes you laugh at anyway: Small kids are hilarious. But for reals, bigger kids can make you fall over with laughter.
Fewer slobbery kisses and wonderful chubby-armed hugs, but more fist bumps, meaningful talk, and mutual respect: Okay, you parents of little ‘uns may have me on this one. However, it is remarkable to watch your baby grow up into a real person with his own thoughts, memories, and beliefs. If this is what I get after being a parent for barely a decade, I’m looking forward to my children’s next stage of being even bigger kids.
Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland; an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont; and a column called Autism Unexpected in the Washington Times Communities. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey.