Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Entering The Golden Age?

Late Blooming Mom has an older brother who also became a parent later-in-life.  He has one child, and she's about a month shy of twelve as I write this.  He once described the period of a child's life between ages six and twelve as "The Golden Age Of Childhood," a time when kids are self-reliant enough to do some things for themselves, way more interesting to be around than they used to be, yet not yet infected with the attitude and hormones that tend to govern adolescence.

All signs point to Thing 1 and Thing 2 entering that Golden Age. 

Every day, they finds things about which they seem to be just plain thrilled.

They are gigglers, even uproroarius laughers, and can tell and make their own jokes.

They are curious, asking questions to figure out the way the world works.  They are quick to put new concepts together, and creatively combine old knowledge and new -- if not with entirely correct results.  (Just last night, when I was reading a picture book to Thing 1 and the text mentioned "Neon," he asked if "Ne-off" is when the lights go off).   They have activities about which they are passionate.  Even the mere promise of dinner at Souplantation, where they will get baby ice cream cones, is cause for celebration.
Right now, my kids don't have homework yet, and they barely have any "chores" around the house, save to unpack their lunch boxes when they return from camp, or pick out their clothes for the next day.  Camp seems to be about painting robots and baking cupcakes.  They each get a half-hour of TV time at home on weeknights, longer on weekend mornings.  They have seen the latest Toy Story movie, they have plenty of toys at home with which to amuse themselves, and they never have to shop for, plan or prepare a single meal.  Theirs is a remarkably carefree existence.  It is, indeed, a Golden Age for them.

But my brother, when he used the term, was just as much describing the time as golden from the perspective of the parent.  So far, anyway, I agree with him ... even though the fits haven't stopped, the fights have increased, and the ability to negotiate or argue has greatly improved.

There are times when you'd walk into Late Blooming Mom's house and it wouldn't feel like the Golden Age of anything, except, perhaps, of underage lawyers in training.

"I will be mad if I can't have what I want for dinner," says Thing 1.  "I will calm down when I can have my book in bed," screams Thing 2, who is not at all remotely calm after being denied her nightly book because she would not cooperate with the bedtime routine.  They make their demands, their threats.  They lie on the floor and kick.  They cry and yes, even utter that dreaded line every parent is loathe to hear:  "I hate you!"  It's the big bomb they can drop, and the other night, in the midst of a bedtime fit, Thing 2 defiantly dropped it ... before collapsing in a heap moments later and,within a half hour or so, finally truly calming down.

It'd be unrealistic to expect the drama and the power struggles and the rebellion to stop just because they happen to be approaching the Golden Age of childhood.  The hard thing for Late Blooming Mom to do is to remember, in the heat of the moment, all the other moments -- the truly golden ones -- that can happen in the very same day, even the very same hour, as the yucky ones.

I'm coming to realize there's plenty of tarnish to be experienced during the Golden Age.  After all, the toddlers who threw fits didn't really go away, they just grew; and those teenagers have to come out of somewhere.

In the meantime, it's good to be just where we are -- gold and tarnish and all.

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