The Breathing Years

On our last trip to Disney, we reached a point at dinner one night where Agent A’s three-year-old tolerance level had clearly had enough. The girls were really looking forward to doing a few more things in the park that evening, but there was no way we could drag little brother around in his current state.

I gave Hubby The Look and we pretty much knew what needed to happen. So, after we settled the bill, Agent A and Daddy headed back to the buses to return to our hotel while the girls and I stayed in the park for another hour or so. 

And it was . . . kind of . . . nice. 

Not that a Disney trip with a rowdy preschooler isn’t a barrel of Mickey Mouses. But something about being with just the older two made it seem . . . easier? 

Here we were, just the three of us, navigating the Magic Kingdom and not worrying about chasing anyone or how on earth we could possibly stand in a character line for thirty. whole. minutes. We just said, “hey, let’s go over there and see that,” and we did.

I almost want to whisper this, for fear it will be gone too soon, but we’ve reached a point with the Senior Agents that I refer to as the breathing years. 

Agent E is almost 8 and wrapping up second grade, and star kindergarten student Agent J will be 6 next month. 

Both old enough to be out of the exhausting, high maintenance, in-the-crazy-zone years. Both young enough to not have reached the hormonal, attitudinal pre-teen years. 

Kind of like a built-in pause to catch your breath on your parenting journey. You know it won’t last forever, but you still welcome it.

What happens during these years? Well . . .

I can take them in public and not worry that they will dart from me and run. If I do lose sight of them, they come immediately when I call them. No hiding games.

They are basically self-sufficient in the bathroom.

They pick out their own clothes, and put them on with minimal (or no) assistance.

I can let go of their hands in the parking lot for the quarter of a second it takes to adjust my sunglasses and not worry they will throw themselves into the path of an oncoming car.

Standing in line is no longer a torturous event.

At least one of them can be trusted to carry a plate of food through a buffet line.

They can read. Signs, menus, whatever. I’m no longer an interpreter.

Running errands with them is—dare I say it—actually kind of fun.

I can say things like “get ready for bed” and they not only know this means brush your teeth, get a drink of water, use the bathroom, climb into bed . . . but they can execute the whole plan themselves.

We can calmly walk around the Magic Kingdom at dusk—without worry of what anyone in our party is pulling at, touching, or licking—and then spend 30 minutes waiting to see TinkerBell and Periwinkle . . . all while Momma’s sanity remains intact.

This is in no way meant to imply that Agent A isn’t one of my favorite people in the entire universe. 

But I’d be lying if I said I never thought about how different the dynamic in our family will be in a few years when he is able to do the things on this list.

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