Monday, January 07, 2008

Looking Ahead

Over the weekend I took the girls for a playdate at the home of an old friend who has a nearly-five-year-old daughter. This friend swore to me that, at nearly five, these children become much, much easier to care for. That you can leave them with grandparents overnight, even, maybe, and get an evening alone with your spouse. Sleep in the next morning and when you go to fetch them, they're sitting at their Nana's kitchen table, elbow-deep in Play-Doh, doing just fine.

Also that crazy-making obsession with clothes not being right? The way they will have complete and total meltdowns every morning because THERE IS SOMETHING UNSPOKEN, UNKNOWABLE, UNNAMEABLE, WRONG WITH THAT SHIRT, or overnight the once-acceptable socks have now become instruments of torture, anyone can see, how dare you expect me to put on such socks? You know, that whole thing? It goes away.

Oh, and of course, when you have a four-almost-five-year-old (assuming you're done making any more babies), of course there is no more of this four-times-a-day nursing, and has not been for years. Years! That means you can sleep past six a.m. sometimes. And you can go to a movie in the evening because you aren't required to be home at bedtime, for the twilight nursing.

In other words, parenting seems to get a heck of a lot easier after the toddler/preschooler years (but, I'm assuming--as a psychologist who used to specialize in teens and families--BEFORE the adolescent years).

This is the second friend who has said as much in the past week. It must be true.

I was momentarily envious, bedazzled, wistful. My friend's house seemed so calm, so cooperative. As if weekend days weren't a ragtag rat-race of naps and nursings and tantrums and diapers and picking discarded pasta up off the floor around the highchair. As if running errands could actually, relatively feasibly, be accomplished with child(ren) in tow. As if everyone in the house were a little more well-rested. Ahhhhh....

But then later, in the infant-and-toddler section at Target, I started thinking about certain items on my list, and do you know that I was sort of glad for the particular totems of babyhood I could still throw into my cart, those items unique to households with under-twos: the biter biscuits, the toddler training toothpaste? It won't be much longer, will it, that you'll be able to find a yellow bottle of baby wash in our upstairs bath?

Do you remember it, those of you parents whose children have grown past toddlerhood? Do you remember those iconic baby products that lived in your house for months, years on end? Do you ever miss buying them? The teething biscuits, the sippy cups? The amber-colored no-tears shampoo? That pink lotion that smells only, always, of babies?

Maybe not. Maybe I won't either. But, knowing me, I'm probably missing it a little bit already. Am I? I sort of am.


Cathy said...

I don't know. The stuff we're buying now is pretty fun. Jan Brett books. Doll houses. Organic Z-Bars (have you had these? I pretend to buy them for Anya, along with the fruit leather, to take on longer outings, but I really buy them for me). Personally, I'm really loving 4-and-a-half.

Shan said...

Jan Brett! She was the "Author of the Month" at Julia's nursery school in December!

Don't know the Z-Bars. Will now look for them.

You are now the third parent to tell me that four years old--any variation on four--is about ten zillion light years of bliss beyond three-and-under. I'm holding you all to it!

Jordan said...

Nah, I don't miss the iconic baby/toddler stuff. As Cathy said, there is fun stuff at every stage and for me - although a part of me always wanted to freeze my kids at every age along the way - it just keeps getting better and more fun. Oh, and the boys love Z-bars (they're made by Clif) - I'm not sure what makes them "for kids" other than having chocolate or peanut butter in them! They are pretty carefully rationed over here! ;-)

I'm not going to make that claim about age 4, though! My experience as a parent and therapist is that age four is "age 2 with a MOUTH" - phew, the attitude!! The closer you get to 5, the better! (But of course with that comes lots of fun times, too, like any age.)

Cathy said...

Let's just be clear: 4.5 is fantastic. 4 years old, however ... not so much. Anya went through all that fabulous back-talking defiance the day after she turned four and for some time I was missing the sweet little baby I carried in the sling. But we're past that now, and I wouldn't go back to babyhood for anything. For one thing, we've just started Alice in Wonderland.

Shan said...

And for me to be clear: I DON'T (and won't) miss "baby stuff" in general, or what that phrase often means: diapers, the bouncey seat, baby gyms, the Exersaucer. But I do find some of those "little" baby products, the consumables, I mean--Gerber Puffs, zwieback toasts, baby wash--to carry with them a warm, friendly little aura of the sweetest part of infancy, and I think I'll miss seeing them in my pantry, on my vanity, in the car, when they're grown past. I guess the marketers are doing a good job.

Oh, and I will say that if 4 is "2 with a mouth" I'd be happy: I found 2 to be very easy! Three is the killer!

Rob Hardy said...

One of the baby things I miss is a lack of sarcasm. My boys were never sarcastic as babies, but now that they're teenagers...

Shan said...

Thank God babies aren't sarcastic. Can you imagine?