I’ve been thinking about milestones and kids. The kinds of milestones that no one tells you about. Things like when your kid can suddenly play by themselves for longer than 5 minutes. (Miracle – you can start dinner super quick!) To be fair, I’d started thinking about this a while ago when I read a blog by Laura Garwood about the milestone when her baby let her read him a whole book without flipping pages before she was finished. Some stages are easy to see the end or beginning, and some just slide right through you till you have a kid graduating from high school. (Where did 8th grade go?) or a kid preparing to make her First Reconciliation (seriously, wasn’t she baptized 5 seconds ago?).
I try really hard to not hurry my kids through any stage as I know that eventually I will miss the good parts of that stage*. But sometimes I wish they were spontaneously capable of certain milestones while I still wish they could be my snuggling wuggling baby. All of my “can’t wait” milestones are about your kid getting more self-sufficient.
- Get their own shoes on.
As in, “For the love of Pete, we’re late again. Get your shoes on. Let’s go,let’s go, let’s go.” Now, instead of getting my shoes on, and theirs, and tying everyone’s, they can at least get them on enough to get to the car! Oh, the glorious few minutes! Now, if you have three girls 7 and under, all trying to all get shoes on, inevitably there will be chaos as they all decide to try and piss off one sister by taking theirs, or tossing a sister’s shoes to the other side of the entry way, and with any luck down the stairs “by accident”. While you are practicing your breathing (he, he, whooo, he, he whooo), you remind them that you have made them leave the house with no shoes on with snow on the ground, and that the encounter with DCF was not enough to deter you from doing it again.
Amazingly, shoes will go on much quicker. Score 1 for self-sufficient (and a little fear of the elements. Note – this doesn’t work as well in summer time, unless the blacktop is hot enough to hurt!)
2. Dress themselves
Once your children are old to dress themselves, people will start assuming that whatever crazy outfits they are wearing are not of your choice. Merely, they are considered bi-products of the young’uns learning to spread their wings and make their own decisions. I figure as long as they are covered, matching is irrelevant, and frankly just a bonus. I really don’t care if we have polka-dots, plaids, argyle, horizontal and vertical strips, if you got yourself dressed, I’m a happy momma camper. I’ve sort of quit buying cute matchy clothes because they will rarely chose to wear them together. I’m all about the mix and match, or not match as the case may be these days!
3. Feed themselves
Everyone speaks about the first time for rice cereal or oatmeal. Or the oat cereal. Or holding their own glass. But when you get to the point where you get to make one meal, just one, and everyone partakes of the same meal. Priceless. Today we had chicken and biscuits, and peas and apples. I didn’t have to do anything special for the little two except butter their bread. (When are knives okay again? I’m looking forward to Peanut’s ability – well maybe not). It’s not so much that they will eat what my husband put in front of them, just that they are physically capable. In my house, you eat what’s served, or you don’t eat. I am not about being a short order cook! I just love not buying baby food and finding the spoon and spooning it in, and then arguing while they try to take control of the spoon and ducking the flying whirled peas.
4. Homework on their own.
Did you know some children can do their homework on their own? I mean, come home from school, sit down, do homework (get a good grade on it), turn it in all by themselves? I didn’t. I mean, my oldest does it, but my elementary school kid? Everyone talks about that first day of kindergarten or first grade. But what they fail to tell you is that you are going back to school, too. You will have homework. reminding them to do their spelling and/or make it legible. Sitting with them through the tempers as they work through their flashcards on math. Praying they don’t realize you can’t pronounce anything in Spanish correctly. Don’t get me started on permission slips, remembering to send in the class snack or finding the baptism picture again. I really don’t mind the questions, if they are confused (math isn’t a fear for my husband and I, as the internet does a fabulous job of letting you re-learn any concepts you’ve forgotten – dividing polynomials, anyone?), but I would love for that to be the exception and not the rule. Of course, haikus may be my Achilles heel.
5. Going to bed on their own.
The moment you realize you can say “go lay down, and go to sleep”, and your child will. With limited “I need to go potty moments” or “Can I have some water” or my least favorite “the randomly getting up merely because you had to move them to a bed from a crib” phase. I love reading them their books before bed. And laying them down. And knowing I won’t need to go in to see them again until morning. Well, at least one of them is there (the oldest no longer requires a “read to me” time). I’m dreading this weekend when we move the baby from her crib to a toddler bed. We have to, she has started climbing out of her crib, so we have to for her safety. But I’m dreading it. I know it will lead to months of “go to bed” “stay in bed” “get back in bed” moments. Hours of them. Some people calculate how long women shower or shave in their life, or how long people are stuck in rush hour, but me, I’m thinking about the hours lost a night dealing with “get in your bed or so help me God I’m going to find the duct tape”. He he who. he he who.
6. Going to a public bathroom without you having to go
Now maybe it’s because I have 3 small girls. And maybe it’s because my husband deals with the potty conversations all day long. But every time we’re out in public, I am the one taking them to the bathroom. And you have to get up, leave your supper, lose your place in line, rush around looking for the nearest bathroom. (Note – they never need to go potty when you are walking by one, or when you are already going for another child.) You get to the bathroom and you hear “I don’t have to go anymore, Mommy”. He he who. he he who. Oh, to just send them by themselves? Living the dream, baby
7. Buckling themselves into the car
Maybe not so for those of you in Florida or Texas where negative 50 wind chills are the stuff of legends, but here in Minnesota, it gets cold. And there you are trying to get your gloves off so you can buckle those carseats that are to you what childproof medicine caps are to people with arthritis. IMPOSSIBLE. The metal is cold. The straps are unyielding. The children are crying and cold, and arguing because they can’t feel their hands under their gloves. And one has to be unlucky to be second. So you get one buckled by the grace of God, and you look down to realize you have one to go. You realize that you can’t, just can’t practice your breathing because it’s so cold that any extra amount of hot air will just freeze your scarf (if you remembered one in the chaos of getting shoes and coats and mittens and hats on the children while they shout about not being cold) to your nose.
I’ve got my dreams. All of us eat our breakfast, put our shoes on, grab our backpacks with our perfectly done, non-mommy-helped homework in it, run from the house to the car, and race in, open the doors, shut the doors, get seatbelts on, start the car and turn on the heat, all within 50 seconds. And when they come home, they do their homework, and use the restroom on their own, and go to bed.
*Do not ask me about stage “age 3”. I haven’t found much that I will miss about that stage.