Friday, April 4, 2014

Littles vs. Bigs

George is going to be seven years old in a little over two weeks.

I feel so unprepared to parent a seven year old.

George has always been our guinea pig (as the oldest), but each year seems to bring more and more depth to the parenting journey.

He is having a family bowling party, and we went to place the deposit and "practice" our skills last week.

It was just he and I.

 When Lexi and Ethan are around George and I don't get to have a lot of real conversation.

Most of our conversing goes something like this, "George get me Lexi's shoes . . . " 

Or, "George help Ethan get out of the car while I get Lexi."

Or, "Help me hold Lexi's hand to walk into the store."

He is a huge help to me with the day to day, but I don't want to forget that he has things he wants to say too.

On our bowling date we had a chance to really talk.

It was so nice to see him enjoying my attention all to himself.

He kept saying, "This is so fun, mom.  This is so fun."

(Please note the missing drawer front.  I will let you guess which child is responsible for that.)

I was walking with one of my friends last night, and she has two kids Ethan and Lexi's age.

She asked me if it gets easier as they get older, since they can do so many things for themselves.

For whatever reason that comment just started to resonate with me.

So many people focus on the "tough" times with littles.

There are a million books written on how to get through the young (under 5) years with our kids.

And I get it, believe me, it is totally physically exhausting to keep up with the demands of "littles."

But I think sometimes we feel like school-aged kids don't require as much attention.

And if we can just push through until our kids are older the parenting will become easier.

I am completely guilty of putting George's needs on the backburner because my other two's needs seem so much more dire or emergent.

I believe that is just not fair or right.

While George and most older children can get dressed by themselves, wipe their own butts, and clean up their own messes (for the most part), they still have hearts that need their mama's attention.

I actually think that can be more emotionally and spiritually exhausting than cutting up food and filling bottles all day long.

As our children grow, we need to be careful not to back off the parenting intensity because they are less physically needy.

Their hearts become more needy as they grow.

They need our love.

They need our conversation.

They need us to lead and direct.

They need us.