I have a friend who is fond of saying of her children that she spends the first two years of their lives trying to get them to walk and talk and the next ten years trying to get them to sit down and shut up. Oh how I can relate.
As a parent I stumbled through the first few years of my children’s lives in a sleep-deprived stupor. I loved it, but the constant need for attention and assistance gets old. The only thing that has gotten me this far is the perceived light at the end of the tunnel. Well, that and a lot of prayer. And wine. Ahem.
For some reason I kept thinking that when they got a little older and could do more for themselves, it would get easier. In fact, I’ve had other mothers promise me that yes, it does get easier.
But what I’m realizing, as my kids get older, and that independence comes with a pricetag. I am constantly finding my 8-year-old son trying to do things that he has no business doing. And even when he does things that are acceptable, he leaves behind a trail of evidence that I have to clean up. It’s a double-edged sword. I do appreciate that I don’t have to do everything for him, but sometimes I wonder if I spend just as much time going along behind him and picking up the pieces as I would if I did it myself.
Case in point: yesterday morning it was a little chilly in the house. I had the windows open because I enjoy the fresh air, but I had put on a sweatshirt so I wouldn’t be cold. My son came bee-bopping down the stairs and announced, "I’m cold!" I told him to put on a sweatshirt and that, I thought, was the end of it.
About a half-hour later I felt quite warm and thought it curious that it had warmed up so soon, but I thought nothing else of it and removed my sweatshirt. Another half-hour passed, and a friend stopped by to drop off her son for babysitting. As she was standing in my foyer preparing to leave, she mentioned that there was heat coming out of the vent on the floor.
I felt it, and sure enough, heat was emanating from the vent. I knew immediately what had happened. As soon as my friend made her exit, I marched into the family room where my son was happily playing video games in his short-sleeved pajamas.
Sternly, "D, did you turn on the heat?"
More firmly this time, "DON’T do that again!" After which ensued a lecture on the cost of heat and starving children in Africa, which I’m pretty sure went in one ear and out the other.
I’m thrilled he’s becoming more independent, but I might be completely gray by the time he’s ten.