When I finally reached the end of my parenting days diapering, securing the cabinets, making sure my kids ate their veggies (Okay STILL working on that one when it comes to my 12 year old and we are making progress this year he added asparagus to his vegetable repertoire which also includes broccoli but I digress) I thought the hard labor part of parenting was behind me. And in a sense that was partly true. Those initial years of parenting require a Hurculean physical effort; the toting, the sleepless nights, the constant chasing, the potty training- which has me confounded as to how the way past 35 year old Janet Jackson is managing an infant at her advanced maternal age- although she will likely have a boatload of help, whereas most over 35 year old women do not- but that too is a tangential thought, but I think the most difficult and challenging part of this parenting gig comes when your kids get bigger, and braver, and more opinionated and yes more independent.
While my 15 year old daughter is a great kid- there are certainly things I wish someone would’ve told me about raising kids–that those diaper explosions were the easy part and the messiest parts of parenting would come when I tried to both give my daughter her wings while at the same time I wanted to CLIP THEM.
I guess if I had to come up with 4 things that might have better prepared me for parenting a big kid-(although we all know it impossible to prepare for EVERYTHING) here are what they would be:
#1 The older your kids get- the less they will want to hear YOU TALK, which means you have to actively practice being a good listener. Don’t give advice- just LET them talk to you. BY THE WAY: So much easier said than done.
#2 Don’t make a BIG DEAL out of things. You have to learn how to keep a low-profile and not make a fuss over any of your child’s accolades or “special friendships”. Which of course is slightly difficult being that as a parent you can’t help but want to KVELL over your kids’ milestones– but alas– you have to learn to keep all your happiness Bottled up until your kid tells you it is OFFICIALLY okay to let the EXCITEMENT FLOW!
#3 The old “I said so,” doesn’t hold as much weight as it did when your kids were three and TRULY believed what you said was LAW. By the time they turn around 12 that ship has SAILED.
#4 Be ready for those moments in which your very independent and opinionated big kid will disarm you with their charm and their ability to curl up in your lap, wrap their rather large arms around you and tell you how much they love you ( and DON’T CRY – if it is at all possible to stop that waterworks of tears!)