According to a recent survey of nearly 2,000 families, 40% of parents found their children to be the most lovable/fun at the age of 5. Meanwhile, they found kids to be the most difficult to spend time with between the ages of 10 and 12. Now of course we don’t love our kids more at one age than another; our love is unconditional. But if we’re honest, there are ages that we are more endeared towards our children surely?
The Daily Mail went on to ask nine writers to comment on the ages their parental affection peaked and received a range of answers, from the newborn stage all the way up to age 22. Now for me, the newborn stage through age 1 was the toughest. I’m not a fan of the horrific nappies, the night wakings, the teething, and the endless mashing of food. The first six months were close to torture, with the lack of sleep you endure and the fact that your body is a mere feeding machine.
I remember a good friend saying she loved her son more when he was 2 years old than when he was first born. I totally get this. Love grows as you get to know your child, and I definitely felt more besotted when I knew the little person that I was feeding/bathing and we exchanged words.
When my kids were 2, they finally had some hair, which made them cuter, but by 3 they understood things a bit more, which made life that much easier and (hallelujah!) they were potty-trained. While I don’t subscribe to an age where my children were/are at their most “loveable,” I do believe that at the ages of 3 and 4, they were at their cutest. I watch old home videos of my 3-year-old son, with his huge puppy eyes, telling me about his party — “there will be a man with frogs, but they won’t bite you” — and I want to get ahold of a time machine and go straight back. While he’s 9 years old now, he still has a smidgeon of baby-ness in his features; he still looks at everything with a sense of wonder and amazement. He’s still so wee that he fits in the crook of my arm for cuddles and he still has a little pot belly. He is sooo cute I could eat him!
Meanwhile, my husband at the moment is wrapped around our preschool daughter’s little finger. He often attributes this to the fact that “4 is such a cute age.” She has just started school and carries a little book-bag almost as big as her up the hill to class every day. She is still tiny but is so engaged with the world all around her. She asks endless questions — “How are statues made?” “Where does the sea go to when the tide goes out?” — which causes my husband to look at everything with fresh eyes.
At 4, she has really become her own person and I find this age so much more rewarding that the baby years, when everything is a routine and you are unable to reason with a tantrum-throwing 2-year-old. They’re both at the age where they still believe in the tooth fairy and Father Christmas. They love their birthdays and adore trick-or-treating at Halloween. Collecting chestnuts in autumn is as thrilling as watching fireworks. It is unquestionably a magical time.
So why in the survey did the largest number of parents find their kids to be the most fun at 5 years old? Probably because at age 5, your kids haven’t developed the attitude where they start talking back, they sleep all night, they’re still little enough to be “cute,” they’re full of stories, and they look to you to guide them. By 5, kids are much more self-sufficient, but still young enough to adore you and think you are cool.
On Monday, my 9-year-old son got a haircut that seemed to change him in an instant. Gone was my cute little boy and in place I could see the handsome teen that he will become. He seemed taller, broader, more composed. He has always been mature and empathetic, but now I can see how his qualities will translate into adulthood – how his calm, easy-going nature is evolving. He has always been great company, but perhaps none more so than now. Taking him to an outdoor movie theater over the summer to see Jaws was easily one of the highlights of my year. He still (thank goodness) looks up to me and isn’t ashamed to hug me daily – although he is less inclined to do so in front of his friends.
But I know that shortly this will all change and everything I do will become excruciatingly embarrassing. This is exactly why I’m going to relish every age — because every year brings new joy and new challenges. And before I know it they will have flown the nest.More On