There are two standard dreaded stages of parenting: the terrible twos (potty training, grocery store meltdowns, and food refusal) or the teens (eye rolling, dating, eating one out of house and home). But for me, upon learning I was pregnant, I immediately feared how I would parent from ages 7 to 9.
I am not sure why I was fixated on this but I think it can be traced back to my babysitting years. I babysat for a family with a toddler and a seven year old. The toddler was predictably difficult–struggled to nap, dumped out puzzle pieces, and left a trail of crumbs behind him. The seven year old was trickier, though. She was awkward, she talked non-stop about things I didn’t really get (or care to get), she made striking observations (“you have a bump on your face”). It all led me to believe that seven-year-olds were kind of annoying and quirky and not really my cup of tea.
Now, I have had a seven-year-old for a little more than six months and I don’t necessarily retract any of my assumptions about what she would be. She is kind of all legs and falls a lot. She talks incessantly about Legos and asks random and confusing questions like “What was the most famous name kids had when they were your age?” (my answer was Jennifer. Lots of Jennifers in the eighties). She also tells me when my hair looks crazy and she doesn’t “get” my outfit. So really, shes very bit of the expectation I had for seven.
But she also leaves tiny post-it notes around the house for me. She draws people with heart bodies because they are “full of love”. She maintains a social network of friends and I find her daily recaps riveting–so-and-so broke the head off of the Lalaloopsy pony and drama ensued! She tallies the swear words that she hears at Rob’s football practices and has commanded such authority that those teenage boys beg her to take them off her “naughty” list. I regularly find myself captivated by how cool she is.
I have been forming this post in my head for awhile but I wasn’t sure how relatable it was. However, I am pretty sure that even if you’re not afraid of seven-year-olds, there is some part of parenting that intimidates you. I don’t think I am alone in having a favorite stage (when she used to say “I hold you” when she wanted to be held) and a least favorite stage of parenting (molars) so far. But tonight, she saw that I wasn’t feeling great so she crawled on the couch beside me and said, “Mama! I have just the thing!” and she pulled up this video. We laughed and I adored that she was so tickled by the “Thanks a lot, Robert Frost!” joke. It warmed this English teaching mama’s heart. And it reminded me what’s really beautiful about parenting. I know her so intimately she isn’t just a seven-year-old. She’s MY seven-year-old. And in return, she knows me in ways no one else does. She is an intricate part of our family dynamic. Her awkwardness, her quirkiness, her candidness–they brighten my days and they teach me so much.
Seven-years-old isn’t scary. Its perfect.