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Being There For Your Child As He Grows Out Of Infancy

Nov 25, 2007
Make the most of their childhood; they grow up so fast. You hear that one a lot when you have a baby. There you are, wishing fervently that the baby will start sleeping through the night, or eat finger foods, or walk, or talk, or go to school to give you some peace! And your mom, or someone else of that generation, will say wisely that you shouldn't wish their lives away, that you should value their babyhood and not hasten their growing up.

Tamsin told me last night that she didn't want to use her special spoons and forks anymore - the one with plastic handles, bearing cute pictures of Winnie the Pooh, and Madeline, and letters of the alphabet. She wants to use proper metal cutlery now. She has a lovely set of child-size, grown-up styled cutlery that I gave her when she was four, and a couple of silver plated spoons with Beatrix Potter motifs that she still fancies, but other than that, it is to be Mommy and Daddy's spoons from now on.

I almost cried. She used to love that Madeline spoon! I noted with relief that she still wants to use the plastic plates, bowls and cups, though, which is a good thing because I don't know that children and china mix really well. Not that we use valuable china on a day to day basis, but I would still prefer it unbroken.

I made some lighthearted comment about her growing up. 'Are you too big a girl to use plastic spoons now, Tamsin?', something like that.

'Yes', she said, very seriously.

'You're growing up very quickly, Tamsin!' I replied.

'Yes, I'm going to be a teenage now.' Her reply was extremely serious.

She looked a little crestfallen when I explained that she could be a teenager when she turned thirteen, but not at the age of five-and-a-half. (Whereupon she corrected me, it being five and eight months. She is as pedantic as her mother!)

The thought of my baby turning into a teenager horrifies me! I'm sure one takes it in one's stride eventually, but I cannot make that quantum leap in my mind from a five-year-old to a teenager. It is too horrible to think about! She's strong-willed enough as it is, without hormones and rebellion factored in.

Of course, many things about our children growing up are rewarding and worth looking forward to. It is exciting when the baby sleeps through the night, and takes his first finger foods, and walks, and talks. And when he goes to school!

A new friend asked me recently about what it's like having a second child. She is pregnant with her second child, due in July, and has a little boy who will only be sixteen months old at the time. As the age gap between my two is three years and a month, we discussed the differences in age gaps and I suggested some good and bad points that I thought she might notice about the same age gap she would be having. And then she asked me if you get as excited about every milestone in the second baby as you did with the first.

My answer was a resounding Yes. Every time Angus has done something new, I'm sure we have been as excited about it as we were over Tamsin. In fact I can remember his first word, but not hers! (Not counting Dadda, which they both probably did say as their first word. Angus's first proper word was 'Row row', as in 'Row, row, row your boat', which he had loved playing with us ever since he could sit up, wobbling, on our huge waterbed in the mornings).

And despite the adage about not wishing their lives away, I confess that I always have looked forward to the next stage. At time I have dreaded the next stage - sometimes you get everything perfect, and you know that the next stage won't be so nice! But then the thought sustains you through the bad patch and you know that the next stage will be worth waiting for.

I am looking forward to Angus getting a little more independent, and growing out of the terrible twos! And I am looking forward, though with some trepidation, to him starting kindergarten next year. I am looking forward to Tamsin's academic development continuing in leaps and bounds. Her reading has come along so well that I can see that within the next year I am going to be able to start introducing her to some of the books I loved as a child, as she will be able to read them properly by herself very soon.

My sister-in-law saw her eldest son off to university for the first time last week. I've known Nicolas since he was a little boy and I cannot believe that he is eighteen and starting a new life away from home. I thought I was thoroughly grown-up when I went away to university, but I cannot think of him as thoroughly grown-up! I cannot start to imagine my children that old. But then when Tamsin was born, I could not have started to imagine her at school, reading fluently, riding a bicycle (alright, with training wheels still, but I'm proud of her anyway!)

Our task with our children is to guide them through the whole growing up process. It is a truism, of course, but they are growing up from the moment they are born. Without forcing them, we do need to give them the framework to grow up in safely and with love. We need to give them opportunities, without compelling them to take them up. We need to listen to them, to be there for them at all times. It is said that if you listen to your child when she is a baby, she will be willing to talk to you when she is fifteen and going through a crisis with her first boyfriend.
About the Author
Jon Caldwell has been in the baby business for years now. His accomplishments can be seen at http://www.baby-times.com/baby-timescat/baby-timesdetails.php
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