My twins turn six in the beginning of February. To me, that still isn’t “big kid” time. For some reason, I consider seven to be “holy shit who are these big rotten kids in my house” time.
I’ve been reflecting on our fifth year together, and thinking about the fact that as your kids get older, you get to be more and more honest with them. There’s a lot of, “…yeah about that…” and “so, here’s the thing…” I also get to teach them that their mother is a human being — a person who gets frustrated and hungry and sleepy and doesn’t necessarily want to get up and get you that cup that you are fully able to get yourself.
It’s about independence. And it’s about Mom and Dad going from a 1.00 without vacation or benefits down to a .99 without vacation or benefits.
It’s time for some truth, little ones.
Here are three truths I have brought to my kids during their fifth year of life:
1. The fight you are having is stupid. I am not going to get involved.
What’s that? Your brother got into the car first today, and it was supposed to be your turn to get in first? Holy crap, you guys. I don’t even know the word that describes how little I care about this. I mean, there are a lot of things I care about: your safety, world peace, equal rights for all…but which of my children gets into the car first? Nope. Don’t see it on the list. Let’s check the list of things I don’t care about: the happiness of chickens, “Who Wore It Better?”, whether or not the snow is just right for skiing…huh. It’s not there either. It’s almost like it is so insignificant that it doesn’t even make it on to the list of things I have thoughts about.
So you guys go ahead and battle this one out. I’m going to sit here in the driver’s seat, sipping my coffee and listening to that Miley Cyrus song again.
2. If you decide to play a game that consists entirely of beating the shit out of each other, someone is going to get hurt. There will be tears, and I will not be as sympathetic as you’d like me to be.
I just don’t get it. I mean, I kind of get that when you’re five pushing your physical limits is fun to do, but do you need to hit each other in the head with light sabers to do that? And then, when one of you actually gets a good smack upside the head, why do you then get angry at the one who hit you? YOU WERE HITTING EACH OTHER IN THE HEAD. Not only does that make you complicit in your own injury, but it should also go into the old “learning vault” that when you play a game that involves hitting and kicking, there is a good possibility that it will end in tears.
At this point, I feel like you have been sufficiently warned about what happens when you play this way, so I am going to look away. You know where the band-aids are.
3. If you insist on wearing a tee shirt and no jacket when it is 30 degrees out, I advise you against it exactly once and then I will stop fighting you. When you are shaking and furiously angry (at me, mind you) less than two minutes from now, I will feel terrible for you. But also, just a little happy.
There was a time when I fought them on this. There was a time when I didn’t want to be the mom whose kid wore a tank top and no coat in December. But guess what, wee ones? I’m done. No more temper tantrums and time outs before I have had my cup of coffee in the morning. Now when they decide they want to have a snowball fight without gloves on, I will question them once, maybe twice.
“You know it’s super cold out right?”
“You know that the snow is going to freeze your hands and make them hurt if you don’t wear gloves?”
“Yes, Mom. I’ll be fine. I’m wearing long sleeves!”
“But that doesn’t — you know what? Fine. Go ahead. I would highly recommend gloves, but this is a choice you can make yourself.”
And then I will sit there and drink my cocoa, and wait to be proven right. It’s a delicious feeling. It’s not that I want my kids to freeze and hurt, but it’s not like I didn’t warn them. This is how kids learn to save themselves from themselves. This is how they learn that sometimes parents have rules for really good reasons, and that they are not just trying to inconvenience their children.
So often as parents we don’t get to reap the fruit of our lessons and labors till years down the line. But when your child comes running back inside crying because their feet hurt from walking on the hot concrete without shoes on after you told them they should probably put on some sandals? That, my friends, is some instant gratification.