Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do I Have to Let Him Grow Up?

When my kids were smaller, I was part of an online community in which many of the mothers had large families (more than four kids) and a poll was conducted there once, asking which age was everyone’s favorite. Overwhelmingly, most people preferred the baby stage. I don’t remember what I voted, but I’m sure it was whatever the age my oldest was at the time. Because, frankly, though babies are very cute and perfectly sweet in their helplessness, mostly they’re just a lot of work, in my opinion.

And toddlers? Can you say “potty training?” Can you say (softly), “For the three-hundred-millionth time, Sweet Pea, we do not eat cat food?”

So, essentially, since I first became pregnant I’ve been wishing and waiting for these guys to get bigger, older and just generally more independent. Since I know how to be a Zen Master (should I ever want to attempt) I try to remind myself sometimes to enjoy what is good about the here and now because it will end, so I have enjoyed them at every age… sometimes. But mostly I assumed that I would wish their entire childhoods away. Until now.

Now J has reached the perfect age. I want to make him stay five forever. But I know that just like the nightmare that was pregnancy and the difficulty that was my kids’ babyhoods… all things, good and bad, come to an end. And the day will come that J will stop asking me those all-important questions like, “Mama, would an omnivore drink beer?” because he’ll think I’m the oldest, stupidest and most boring person on the planet. So, for now at least, I am finally the Zen Mama I always imagined I’d be!

The other night I said, “J do you know why we celebrate Christmas?”

“Ummm… is it just so we can pretend like snowmen can come to life?” he guessed.

“No," I corrected, "we’re celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus. It’s Baby Jesus’ birthday.”

(Those of you who are religious, try not to notice that if I’d been doing my job as a Catholic mother he really ought to know this sort of thing by now. See! Not so much a religious nut really!)

So he asked, “Oh… how old is he?”

And I said, “Very old… over two-thousand years old.”

Then his eyes got very big and he exclaimed, “You mean he’s DEAD?!”

(Wait a second... Was I so high on Hershey Bars last spring that I forgot to mention why we ate ten thousand pounds of chocolate for breakfast on a certain Sunday morning?)

And I said, “Well, um… yeah. Sort of...”

“And the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph? They’re DEAD too?!”

But before I could explain, he thought of a more pressing issue that needed resolving, “Mama,” he asked, “Is there geckos in the jungle in Hawaii?”

“Um… uh…”

YES OR NO?!” He demanded.

(Ooops… is it obvious he’s been raised by an impatient mother?)

I just couldn’t adore this age any more than I do. He asks interesting questions, sits still long enough to listen to the answer, thoughtfully requests clarification and additional detail, let’s me know his opinion on the matter… it’s like talking to an actual person! He's just really nice to hang out with.

And he has opinions on things that I really wouldn't expect. One day we were discussing various theories of how dinosaurs became extinct. And he asked me which one I think is true.

I answered, “Mama thinks the earth got very hot… blah blah blah.”

And J (decidedly unimpressed) said, “Yeah… that’s what Daddy thinks too… I don’t. I think an asteroid crashed into the earth and that’s how they died.”

Alrighty then.

But just like when life was hard and I would repeat to myself, “When things are bad, remember this too shall pass.” Now I sorrowfully acknowledge that when things are good, this too shall pass. But I hope not too soon.


Jenny said...

Oh. My. God.

I can not stop laughing.


Kit said...

Five is great but so are six and seven and eight - my eight year old is just hitting the BOY stage though of bouncing balls everywhere he goes and testing out the boundaries yet again.. but the questions and interest in life are still there.

Just in case you found someone to bake that cake I've finally posted the recipe for the icing now!

Melissa said...

Yes, this will pass, but something else really cool will come along. And then they'll be adults, and that HAS to be great, right? (Say yes, for my own peace of mind.)

Sara said...

Yeah! This post makes me so happy not just because another religious woman has managed to pass on some yet not all of the details of our goofy ass faith but because I'm feeling utterly in the middle of infantcy and toddlerhood. It does get better. It DOES praise God!

Jill said...

Your J sounds just like my almost five-year old Joe. He also has his own theory of dinosaur extinction and asks me important questions as he is falling asleep, like tonight's: "Mom, what was invented in 1925?" (answer: snowblowers).

That said, I think 8 is sort of the ideal. They are too young to be snarly adolescents, but old enough to be reasonably independent.

Her Bad Mother said...

And that, my friends, is one more use for religion. It provokes precociousness.

Laughing out loud over here.

Pendullum said...

My daughter is nine.
And still believes in Santa.
Well, when she was six we had this coversation....
Some of my friends day that Santa does not exist...
ME: Well, what do you think.
SCOOTER: I think he does. But my friends think I am foolish.
ME:Scooter, some people believe in Jesus, and his birth is what we are celebrating.Some people believe in Mohommad, some people believe in Hanakuah some people believe in Kwanza ...
SCOOTER: What do you beleive?
ME: I beleive in all of these.I believe in love. And anything that has love in the message I believe in. So, there is no real proof of most things magical but it is wrong to think of someone as foolish for what they believe.
SCOOTER;Me, too.

Fast forward to nine years of age.
Yes, Scooter.
Momma, I like presents. I like them... But you knowwhy I like Christmas?
No,Scooter. Why?
Because I can give everyone of my friends and family something and tell them that I love them. Christmas is all about love Momma.

Every age is special... But Goodness I love each walk with magic...
and as I think this will be the last year of Santa...or maybe not.???. I embrace the fact that Love is the message that seems set in her heart.

Jen Rouse said...

I've found that each new stage my daughter reaches immediately becomes my favorite. She's 2 and 1/2 and becoming so expressive! It's a lot of fun (minus the tantrums and refusal to use the potty). My younger daughter is 6 months and I just keep thinking what a great age that is too. I think it's all in your perspective. The one stage I did not enjoy with either girl was the newborn phase.

Mom101 said...

I've often wondered about people who love the baby stage best. I suppose it's nice to be able to tote them along to dinner dates, but I'm loving the interraction with my 18 month old so much now, it beats the pampers off my relationship with her a year ago. I look forward to the day that I too get a precocious answer about asteroids and dinosaurs.