Lately I’ve become particularly aware of how quickly my kids are growing up. Flump is seven going on sixteen and now rolls her eyes at me when I speak, as if I’m some sort of ancient, clueless ignoramus. Ludoo starts full time school in September and has gone from watching me like a hawk and demanding my constant attention to telling me he doesn’t love me and wants to throw me in the bin. Charming. It seems the tables have turned and I’m no longer viewed as the centre of their world. And as much as I enjoy my growing sense of freedom, I’ve also been left feeling somewhat bereft. The precious early years of childhood are racing by and I wonder if I’m really making the most of them.
So often I urge my kids to get a move on, dress themselves, feed themselves, wash themselves – you know, basic life skills. Ludoo consistently refuses to feed himself (unless it’s pudding of course in which case he very efficiently polishes off an entire plate). He insists I sit next to him and lovingly feed him each and every spoonful as he takes his sweet time chomping, chatting and chilling. It drives me nuts as it’s painfully slow and I’ve clearly got other things I could be getting on with. But have I got better things to get on with? Why am I willing my boy to grow up so fast when soon he will not need me at all? As infuriating as it is, soon I will miss my boy not wanting and needing me.
As for Flump she is already fiercely independent and can do most things on her own. In fact she doesn’t even want to hold my hand anymore when we go out as it’s not cool…SOB! If she misbehaves I sometimes find myself lecturing her about the need to act more maturely and set an example to her younger brother. Of course we all need to set boundaries for our children, but why am I urging my little girl to act beyond her years? Why am I forcing her to grow up when soon she will lose her childish, carefree ways?
At the weekends, I will often pack the kids off with the Old Git so that I can get a bit of time to myself. Sometimes I practically shove them out of the front door, armed with snacks and water bottles, just so that I can get some peace and quiet. We all need a bit of down time to recharge, but I’ve started to wonder if I’m wasting the opportunity to make precious memories with my children. Don’t get me wrong, I spend plenty of time with them but how much of that is quality family time? The early years are short lived and family days out undoubtedly form the basis of many wonderful childhood memories.
As the years hurtle by, I feel a growing sense of panic that the children are getting older and a strong need to appreciate every single moment of their childhood. That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to the years ahead, but the early years have a special sort of magic. This is when they need and want us the most. This is when they yearn to be around us. This is when they want kisses and cuddles. Soon those days will be gone and I will be faced with moody, know-it-all, grunting pre-pubescents. As uncharacteristically sentimental as this post is, I feel I need to let my kids be kids, warts and all, and cherish every single, beautiful, frustrating moment so that it is embedded in my memory for years to come.