November 10 11

Parenting babies and toddlers is the easy part.

Well, it’s the easier part, as there’s really nothing particularly easy about parenting. From the moment that they hand you that wrinkled, sleepy-eyed pile of baby goo, you have signed up for an adventure the likes of which you couldn’t have possibly imagined. But, the baby and toddler part? Way easier. Sure, there are things like feeding issues and colic and I don’t really think anyone loves the not-sleeping part, but as a parent, your mission is pretty simple: Meet the child’s basic needs. It’s true. Make sure the child is dry, clean, fed, happy. Not easy, but you know your tasks. You know that you can purchase most of the supplies you will need at Shoppers Drug Mart and Baby Gap.

It’s when they get a little older than things get more complicated. You have to help your children in ways that no one ever told you about. You have to know how to make a 3D traffic light book report. You have to make sure your daughter is making friends in first grade. You have to teach your son how to blow his nose. You have to teach your daughter how to blow bubbles with gum. You have to know how to teach someone to memorize lines. You have to figure out how to connect with your sons who don’t like to watch football. You have to figure out how to deal with pre-adolescence. These are things that don’t come with a manual and you can’t buy the tools you need at the mall.

You have to fly by the seat of your pants and hope your ass holds up. And hope that you did something right.

I have been particularly pants-flying of late. With children in 5th, 4th and 1st grades, with a full-time job (with a bonus commute), with friends, with money stresses, I have to be a grown-up. I still feel like I am sixteen, so this grown-up concept is not particularly easy for me (I want my mommy). There are big decisions to be made regarding school and tuition and work. There are huge things happening in the lives of people close to me. And there are little decisions that are equally as important, like how to get my son off of his damn DS all the time.

I signed Emily up for sleepover camp. In Wisconsin. 

I am participating in the Harry Potter project with Joshua. 

This July, I will be packing shorts and t-shirts and stationary and running shoes into duffel bags and putting my oldest daughter on a bus for four weeks. She has been ready for years—begging, pleading, crying. And why wouldn’t she be? Summer camp was probably the best time I ever had as a kid. I started going the summer after third grade and went every single summer until my wedding. I was a camper, a cleaner, a counselor. I made friends I will never forget, I have stories I’ll cherish forever. I met my husband there. I want all of these things for my Emily. I can’t wait for her to have friends she’ll never forget and stories she’ll cherish forever.

But she’s my baby.

And before long she will be doing independent things; things I don’t know about, things she doesn’t want me to be a part of.

Josh and I, in an effort to get him off of his damn DS for a minute, and in an effort to do something together, since dude doesn’t like football (where did this child come from?) we began the Harry Potter Project. We each took turns reading each book and then we’d watch the corresponding movie together. Josh read the books first and would come to me and ask me questions. Have you gotten to this part yet? Do you know who RAB is? Do you think Snape is bad or do you think Snape is good? Has Dumbledore died yet? I loved this. The two of us were connecting in a way we never had before. Just us. And now the books are finished and the movies have all been watched. and I know how RAB is and I know whether Snape was bad or good. And yes, Dumbledore is dead. So now we are done. And I need to come up with another project for the two os us.

Because he’s my baby.

And before long he will be doing independent things; things I don’t know about, things he doesn’t want me to be a part of.

And I want them to do these things. I want them to be their own people and have adventures of their own. But I still want them to come into my room and night and snuggle in close and tell me all of their adventures. At least for a little while longer.

See? Babies and toddlers. EASY PART.

Now?

Not the easy part.

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  1. Ali, as you know my kids are exactly the same age. I agree that it’s much more difficult to parent now. :(( they USED to do what they were told – now? Not so much. I am treading the fine line between treating Jeremy like a kid but trying to recognise he’s a tween too. Sigh. It’s hard yakka. I rue the day I got him an XBOX360. Toby? Dream child. Miranda? More work than the other 2 put together. You’re lucky Emily will go to camp – i can’t even get Jeremy to go sleep at his grandmother’s house and he’s 10! (OMG, I’m the mother a double digit. Gulp.)

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    Comment by Heidi on November 10, 2011
  2. You speak the truth. As my girls get older, I realize just how relatively easy it was when they were babies.

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    Comment by Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] on November 10, 2011
  3. You are breaking my heart with this post. You mean this gets HARDER?! Yeesh. Ali, when I read about the special project that you created to have a ‘thing’ with Josh I know that you are a fantastic parent and your kids are so lucky to have such a fun, engaging, interested, loving mom. They may not want to tell you everything all the time, but they will always know their mom loves them. Congrats on finishing the final HP book! You deserve a huge cookie for that one.

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    Comment by Jen on November 10, 2011
  4. This is probably why the Duggars keep having more fucking kids – just so they can always have babies around.

    [Reply]

    ali replied on

    I don’t think they are understanding how the math on this works…

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    Avitable replied on

    I think you’re right on that one.

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    Comment by Avitable on November 10, 2011
  5. Adam’s comment made me laugh because I think it’s totally true!

    I feel the same way. Am I messing them up more? How can I kick that 3rd graders ass for making fun of my daughter without my daughter ever figuring it out?

    I need a black and white manual with all the answers.

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    Comment by gorillabuns on November 10, 2011
  6. The part about parenting (if I ever get the chance) that scares me the most is the part once they go to school and have other influences than family. It scares me enough not to have kids. I can do the baby/toddler part.

    Don’t worry, I’ll go visit Emily!

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    ali replied on

    GAH! You HAVE to go and visit her!!!!

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    Comment by Kristabella on November 10, 2011
  7. I know it does give immense satisfaction but I think handling toddlers & babies is the toughest job in the world! You are right, the day you bring home the baby and when it is not responding to your gestures, it is okay, but the day baby starts smiling, it becomes the toughest job, till next 12-13 years. We all are prepared after that, coz handling teenagers is tough, but they can do without that much of attention as much the babies & toddlers need!

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    Comment by Krysta Radders on November 10, 2011
  8. Ever since my neighbour’s son went off to university last year, this very thing has had me obsessed. I want to hold on tight for as long as I can because it seems they’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.

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    Comment by Tamara on November 10, 2011
  9. Oh how I’m glad it’s not just me that is freaked about this. I signed Morgan up for two week sleep away camp. I DON’T WANNNNNNA. But she does and I know it will be a great experience for her.

    Why do these kids have to keep growing up?

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    Comment by Issa on November 10, 2011
  10. Your post rings true!

    By the way, which camp in WI?

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    Comment by Danna on November 10, 2011
  11. You know that I’m right there with you, Ali.

    And FOUR WEEKS at camp? Graham went for one week and it was hard. Though he wants to go for two weeks next year…

    At least we all have each other for support, hey? :)

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    Comment by Angella on November 10, 2011
  12. Wow, four weeks of camp is such a long time! My 10-year-old would love that, though.

    I’ve been thinking about this very subject every since Preston was born. Parenting an infant is SO MUCH EASIER than parenting a 10-year-old girl, a fact you are obviously very well aware of.

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    Comment by Mrs. Wilson on November 11, 2011
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