Friday, August 22, 2014

Having Big Kids



     I have some big kids, now! I have an 18 yo, a 13 yo, 11yo, 9 yo, 7 yo, 5yo, and 4 yo.
There were months, years, even, that I couldn't see far enough ahead to have an idea what this might be like. Everyone is potty trained. No diaper bags, no strollers, no infant paraphernalia hanging out in the vehicles or the around the house. No crib. It's a bit surreal.
     There was some celebration when we were finished with our diaper bag. I would have burned it in the fire pit if it hadn't been a super sturdy, wipe-able vinyl material! We seemed to slip naturally into this new life. The life where all the people sleep through the night for the most part. The life where everyone is capable of fastening and unfastening their own safety belts in the van. The life where everyone can pedal a bike of some kind. The life where everyone can wipe their own bottom!
     I would be lying if I told you that this life is easier. It's a different challenge. It's another kind of difficult. Before, it was about always being physically tired. I was pregnant with toddlers underfoot forEVER! While I wouldn't trade those years for anything at all ever, I can't say it was easy. It was so hard! I was exhausted all of the time! There are months and months where I'm not even sure what I looked or smelled like. I lived in a hazy existence for a while. For many days, it seemed like my best was changing the diapers in time, feeding the hungry mouths, reading a few story books and soothing little ones to sleep. Years of this. I'm not even exaggerating! I've been parenting for 18 years. I have had littles for 18 years! My littlest is still just 4. I haven't been out of the world of sleep deprivation very long!
     There are five school aged kiddos this school year. One university aged, and one just shy of her first year of school. Everyone is learning to read and write. They all have assigned chores. We just graduated another to the "7Up Club". We have different bedtime for the different age groups. When a kid reaches 7 years old, they are occasionally included in a special evening staying up with older kids. We might have a family movie night or a game night, or sit around the fire pit in the back yard late after the younger siblings are in bed. 7Up Nights.  One of our best family traditions ever. We put it in place when the second child, who is 5 years younger than our oldest, wanted to stay up with his sister. We knew that Sis needed some time with us without the little brother calling us away or interrupting, so we instituted 7 Up nights. The oldest girl was seven (nearly eight) when we told the 2 yo he had to be 7 to stay up sometimes. It stuck.  Now, it's three short years from being obsolete. After the youngest turns seven, no more littles will be praying for months to fly by so they can join in 7Up Nights.
     I'm glad the Zooligans are growing up, maturing, character building and all those things they should be doing. It gladdens me to note when they are growing into pretty great people. It's amazing to see them change and get taller! It's also a little bit sad to see them get closer to being grown ups, and ready to move on to the next part of their life.
     May I remember that my little Zooligans are a gift, and that 18 years isn't nearly as long as the first three years make it seem.
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