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Best Parts of Having a Big Kid

photo credit: Jessica Ashley

I know six people due the first week of December. As I ordered too many pairs of ruffle-bottom bloomers and tuxedo onesies for those new babes making their way into the world, my ovaries eased up into my brain and turned my laser-sharp online shopping focus to those oxytocin-filled moments of kissing chubbers baby cheeks and a sweaty newborn head pressed against the chest and the giggles over any little thing. Oh, for the love of all things fertile, THE GIGGLES.

I can’t wait to hold those babies and to celebrate the place they make in some very loving families. And I haven’t yet given up on the idea, the faint and fabulous and deliriously amnesic idea, of having another baby myself. But as soon as my ovaries wore out and returned to their rightful place, I remembered how great I have it as a mother of an eight-year old.

I’m not one of those moms who loved any particular phase or rued a certain stage. Even in the challenges, in the PullUps and stiff-as-a-board/dead-body-limp tantrums in Target aisles and years of operating in sleep deficit, I was in love with some part of that time in my son’s life.

Sometimes I miss the olden days of singing a screaming infant to sleep for three hours or mastitis-throbbing boobs or lispy preschool incessant questioning. Of course. Those were very good times. But in my insistence on being present for each stage, I’ve also found some really good replacements for those moments and baby-ways I occasionally long for.

Stage 8 is not perfect. There are “OhmahgawMOMMMMM”s and door slamming and times I repeat a request to place dirty chonies in the laundry basket 67 times. There are bigger kid problems of bullying and boredom and bad breath and emerging toe hair. There are glimpses of tweendom and teendom and declaring a double major in French and Woven Arts at a $58,000 a year college. No matter. I am good. We are good. And this kid? He’s both parts crazy-amazing.

Here are a few reasons why big kids rule (for now).

 

 


  • The silly drawings with fake cursive scribbles he leaves around the house 1 of 16
    The silly drawings with fake cursive scribbles he leaves around the house
    Of course, it was a delight to see those first jumbo-crayon scribbles and to try to decipher whether the picture was of an elephant in a hat or grandpa with a Diet Coke. Hilarious times! But it's just as much fun (maybe more) to see what this big kid comes up with. Even if it's clearly an angry mommy on the potty wearing high heels. (Not scrapbookable, kid. So not scrapbookable.)
  • His crazy, urban-eclectic-sk8ter-in-sweatpants style 2 of 16
    His crazy, urban-eclectic-sk8ter-in-sweatpants style
    From his mop-top to his kicks, he has a distinct style that he is quick to call "pretty cool for a kid." The rules of this style dictate no jeans ("too crunchy") and no shirts with buttons (except polos "with fake ties painted on") and lots of bedhead ("it looks better than combed"). It may trend more "hobo" than "hipsterish" when he's 27, but for now, I love to see how he Rachel Zoe's himself out.
  • He actually remembers the memories we’re making 3 of 16
    He actually remembers the memories we're making
    We did a lot of great things when my boy was just a little boo -- racked up many frequent-flier miles, spent hours in the aisles of Home Depot, got glitter in every crevice of the house. I hold those memories close and dear. The kid, he mostly remembers the time he accidentally peed all over his dad. There's something shifting and wonderful knowing that he is filing away our time together now. Even if that does include an all-too-accurate count of how many times I've yelled C-R-A-P at other drivers.
  • He makes his own lunches 4 of 16
    He makes his own lunches
    As a consequence of trashing all the healthy stuffs from his lunchbox last year, it became his responsibility to prep all of the lunches for the week. Every week. CHEEZ-ITS, APPLE SAUCE and GOGURTS, I am so happy not to make lunches at midnight anymore.
  • He can find crappy kid shows on TV on his own now 5 of 16
    He can find crappy kid shows on TV on his own now
    You know what's way better than listening to the chalkboard-screeching voices of Dora and Caillou? Listening to the chalkboard-screeching voices of Jessie and Planet Sheen Kid...from the far corners of another room. If my kid's going to spend 22 total-zone-out minutes in front of a Mommy-mind-melting television show, at least he can commandeer OnDemand to get to it.
  • He’s more adept at using my phone than I am 6 of 16
    He's more adept at using my phone than I am
    As evidenced by the skilled photoshopping of this picture of me. Should I ever need to know how an upgraded feature works -- or how to put a miniature leprechaun hat on a photo of someone - he's my go-to guy.
  • He no longer barfs on airplanes 7 of 16
    He no longer barfs on airplanes
    Logging a gazillion miles has been worth it. Not only am I free of hauling him through security in a sling with an umbrella stroller and infant car seat and diaper bag jam-packed with puff snacks and chew toys, he remembers to take his own Dramamine so neither of us lands safely covered in kid-puke. Who knew flying with a kid could feel so clean heavenly and smell so fresh?
  • He can get in and out of his car seat unassisted and in under 20 minutes 8 of 16
    He can get in and out of his car seat unassisted and in under 20 minutes
    Over the summer, we took care of my toddler nephew for a couple of days. I opened up the car door for both kids and, without thinking, said, "Jump in, sweeties!" My 8-year old climbed in and buckled up. The 2-year old stared up at me and said, "Aunt Jessie, what you doing?!" I'd totally forgotten that he needed to be hoisted, settled and buckled in. I also forgot how dead-weight heavy toddlers are when you're leaning into a cramped car and how long it takes to get all the straps untangled and clicked in. Very happy the extent of my worries is asking if we are all good to go before I put the car into drive.
  • He asks to spend time being alone (and even quiet) 9 of 16
    He asks to spend time being alone (and even quiet)
    My own attention span for playing on the floor with a small child lasted a few minutes less than an Elmo segment. While I can build a mean LEGO office complex and have learned to love throwing a football with my boy, I am always at peace when he's happily drawing at the kitchen table while I buzz around the house.
  • He knows every word to every song in the Katy Perry catalog 10 of 16
    He knows every word to every song in the Katy Perry catalog
    If he's heard it once, he knows every lyric. Sometimes that's about booty-shaking club hos, yeah. But other times it's about fireworks and being sexy and knowing it. That pop star-car dance party child development stage serves me (and my affinity for Maroon 5) quite well.
  • Surges of independent bliss 11 of 16
    Surges of independent bliss
    I've spent a fair amount of time praying to the gods of elbow guards and caution signs after teaching my son to cross the street on his own and pedal a wobbly two-wheeler. But watching him fully in his bliss while racing down the street with a half-smile on his face and the tiny curls of his hair peeking out of his helmet fill me up with so much pride, I almost forget he's speeding away from me.
  • Sunday afternoon reading hour 12 of 16
    Sunday afternoon reading hour
    We read together every night before bed, just as we have done since the day he came home from the hospitable. I am not ready to trade in that time, but I do love adding in hours spent feet to feet on the couch, reading our own books on lazy weekends.
  • Well-developed sarcasm and spot-on timing 13 of 16
    Well-developed sarcasm and spot-on timing
    The only thing his second-grade teacher says he needs to work on? Reigning in the sarcasm with other kids. When I told him he needed to be more observant of how other kids receive his humor, he stared at me blankly and said, "I have no idea when I am being sarcastic and when I am not." I still don't know if that was a serious plea. Regardless, I'm pretty sure Louis CK's mama never wagged a finger at his sarcasm, so I will just enjoy it. I mean, when it's not delivered with an eye-roll at me.
  • He is curious about some really big concepts (without losing any of the body-function obsession) 14 of 16
    He is curious about some really big concepts (without losing any of the body-function obsession)
    Algebra? Autopsies? How solar panels could fuel eco-friendly jet-pack transportation? Why some kids move a square ahead on the behavior chart in his classroom when other kids move backward for the same durn behavior? He's all spongey for information, making times we are stuck in traffic far more interesting. Here, the Not Boyfriend explains exactly how the electoral college works.
  • His gangly awkwardness 15 of 16
    His gangly awkwardness
    Somewhere in those leggy, all-arms, wildly growing moments when he throws his whole body across a chair or me, I see in his face a glimpse of the teenager and man he will become. That reminds me to invest in organic milk stock and that this kid, who seems so big to me, has so much ahead.
  • He still craves cuddle time (occasionally) 16 of 16
    He still craves cuddle time (occasionally)
    We made a deal in the middle of last school year that he'd kiss me goodbye in the car rather than be anywhere near me on the playground before the bell rang. My kissing hand felt slapped. But many months and a new grade later, it just makes me appreciate every little smooch and snuggle even more.

 

Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.

Meet up on Twitter. 

Ogle shoes together on Pinterest.

 

Read more of Sassafrass Says So Here:

How Single Parents Split Up a Kid’s Christmas List

Are You Still Holding on to Your Big Kid’s Baby Stuff?

13 Lessons Moms Hope Kids Learned from the Election

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