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They really do grow up…

I’ve been noticing lately that our family has left a whole era behind: the era of the little kid.

Yesterday I took my daughter to a wonderful workshop at WaxWorks West. My old friend from my pre-mom years, Daniella Woolf, is a wonderful artist who does encaustic and started a studio with her friends Judy and Wendy. All three were there to guide a bunch of homeschoolers through a workshop in which they learned some basic techniques.

They do grow up!

They do grow up!

Encaustic is an art where you embed various media in hot beeswax combined with a resin to make it harden when it cools. So obviously, this workshop included the use of hot wax, not to mention a blow torch, and thus wouldn’t have been appropriate for little kids. A few of the parents with younger siblings had to keep their kids downstairs or went elsewhere while the other moms watched their kids. I volunteered to keep my eye on one and then two.

A year ago I would not have done this. I would have told the other parents, I’m sorry, but I have to keep a watch on my daughter, then six, and still definitely a “little kid” when it came to being in a room with a hotpot full of molten wax. This year? No problem. My daughter drew, transferred, dipped, and torched to her heart’s content while I made sure the other two girls had their needs provided for. OK, I admit she got adult help with the torch and the dipping! But still, it was this odd feeling that I have moved into a whole new world, with independent kids who don’t have to be “watched.”

This world is one that I looked forward to before I had my first baby. I assumed that having a baby would be OK, though I didn’t particularly like babies. I thought having a preschooler might be fun because I like sandboxes, too. But I was really looking forward to kids who could ride bikes, cook, read, and clean their rooms (haha) by themselves.

Then I had the baby, my son: Of course, I fell totally in love with him and was sure that no baby could be as wonderful. Then he became a toddler and I thought, wow, how could I ever have thought he was interesting as a baby? Then a preschooler, and those toddler days with hauling around the diaper bag and special food seemed so passé!

Then his sister came along and I got to do it all over again: Really, was any baby so sweet? Was any toddler more interesting?

I was so embroiled in the fact that his sister was, uh, a bit too interesting as a 3 to 6-year-old that I only vaguely noticed how independent my clingy, shy son was getting. It wasn’t until this year when my daughter started to do it, too, that I realized how my life had changed. I forget, when I try to set up a time to meet the mom of a preschooler, about naps. When moms tell me how they haven’t gotten any sleep, I am sympathetic, but I also think, that’s not my life anymore. (Well, OK, not usually!)

At 7 and “almost 11” (we’re not allowed to say ten anymore), our kids are really their own people. Though of course they still need guidance, there is so much that they can do themselves. Of course, there are still things they can do themselves that they don’t (when will my daughter start flushing the toilet?), but I can even trust my son to do “grown-up” things quite well. When I suggested that the public library might be interested in getting a copy of the environmental DVD that my son’s class is doing, he wrote a well-worded, very polite letter to their children’s services director, and she answered immediately.

There’s a whole different relationship that develops as your kids don’t need you for the most basic aspects of their existence. On the one hand, I miss the constant touch that I had with my kids who needed feeding, diapering, and dressing. On the other, now they can [almost] keep up with me at a normal walking pace, and I don’t always have to try to lose games when we play together! I can do something better than them and it’s not just “Oh, of course Mom does that for me because she’s the parent,” — it’s more like, “So that’s a way I can learn to do that better!” Instead of holding their hands when they’re dumping flour into the mixing bowl, I can tell them the best way to measure flour… and they can remember it!

This is the time that I was looking forward to before I had kids, and I have to say that I’m probably enjoying it more than I expected then. Instead of sending both of my kids off to school every day so that I can do “my own work,” my own work has become entwined with what they’re doing. There’s no way I could have predicted this path I’ve taken, and it’s all due to them that I’ve taken it.

Being a parent is a weird and wild journey through the lives of the beings we create…

Posted in Parenting.


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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Next week’s buzz – Avant Parenting linked to this post on March 30, 2010

    […] we’ve taken in this vein was when we went to San Jose Tofu Company and also when my friend Daniella Woolf taught a class in encaustic. It’s one thing to eat the stuff or admire it; it’s another to see it being made and […]



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