I realize that every kid is different and that every kid hits different milestones at different times. I also know that in my case my son definitely went through the Terrible Twos, the Threenager and even had a mild case of Fournado, all right on schedule. The great news? Now that he is 5, he is pretty fabulous. Or, to put it more accurately, I find parenting him to be pretty fabulous.
With both of my kids, I found the stretch between ages 2 and 3 rather trying. But no child’s behaviour exists in a vacuum. I happened to be pregnant when both of my children were 2, so I have no doubt that my pregnancy had an impact on their behaviour, my perception of their behaviour and my tolerance for their behaviour! We’ll have to see if I notice a difference with the twins at age 2 and no more babies in my belly (I promise!). Mind you, there will be 2 of them … so … I’m not expecting to love that stage.
I know my husband really struggles with the newborn phase; it makes him feel helpless. I am a big fan of the newborn phase myself, and up until my son turned 5, newborn parenting was my favourite stage thus far.
Don’t get me wrong—my fiver still manages to baffle me (Why the obsession with YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft?!), frustrate me (Why are you STILL not dressed?) and enrage me (You’re telling me what you want me to pack in your lunch today as we are walking out the door?!), but overall he impresses me and amuses me. He has interesting opinions, shockingly insightful observations and enough autonomy to make my life slightly easier.
What I love about age 5:
1- We can actually play games together.
I hate playing with action figures. I don’t know what to do with them. I get bored. He wants me to make up elaborate siege scenarios with good guys and bad guys and guns, just like his dad so skillfully does. I like playing structured games and doing puzzles.
At age 5, Cub can play most board games in the age 7+ category, and those board games aren’t mind numbingly boring! He actually makes a formidable opponent at Monopoly Junior, and when we play Exploding Kittens I have as much fun as he does. Yes, sometimes he freaks out when he loses. Yes, sometimes he freaks out when something happens in the game that doesn’t suit him, even if he still wins. But 9 times out of 10, the game goes well and we both have fun.
2- We can read Harry Potter together.
We started The Philosopher’s Stone when he was 4 and are now onto The Prisoner of Azkaban. I know that some plot points still go over his head but that he loves reading entire chapters with me and that he loves the characters like I do—now that is something I treasure.
It’s not just Harry Potter that we read either. He really gets into whatever books I pick from the library. (I typically pick them because he’s at school while his sister and I hit up the library.) He often asks questions that I can’t answer about the natural world, and I try to bring home books that might answer those questions. We’ve learned together about Egyptian mummies, the water cycle, magnetism and tornadoes … and he usually retains more than I do. Reading to my kids is one of my absolute greatest joys. (Yes, I was the kid who ALWAYS wanted to read aloud in class.) My son will go to bed early just so we can read extra stories, or a full Harry Potter chapter. This makes me so happy!
3- He can get out of bed without me.
Being my firstborn, I have no illusions that my son is somewhat coddled. When he started kindergarten, he was barely able to put his coat on by himself. (His sister already can, since she gets way less help than her big bro did!) So I know some kids have reached a lot of these milestones earlier than he has, but for us it’s at age 5 that he is finally able to get out of bed and go downstairs by himself in the morning. He knows to go pee, he knows to keep himself occupied … which basically means watching Minecraft players on YouTube, but whatever lets me sleep a bit more works for me. For a while he was getting his own breakfast because I set out a pre-portioned container of cereal and a small bottle of milk the night before. Since he is currently on a toasted English muffin kick, he waits for me to get him breakfast. If only his sister would go downstairs with him rather than screeching and screaming for me to take her downstairs …
4- We can have interesting conversations.
It’s difficult to engage in conversation with a 3-year-old. With my daughter who is 2-and-a-half, most of her words are still very difficult to understand. A lot of times our conversations end up with one of us crying out of frustration.
With my son, as long as I have his attention (translation: he’s not watching someone get rich by playing Minecraft on YouTube), we can chat about so many interesting things! He often initiates the conversations with a question that comes out of left field, and he doesn’t shut me down when I give him a fairly detailed answer (if I actually know the answer).
He’s not the kind of kid who talks your ear off (though I most certainly was), but subjects that intrigue him include death and the afterlife (in a completely non-morbid way), planning his future (he still wants to live with me when he’s a daddy) and pondering the meaning behind rock songs of the 70s, 80s and 90s. We have our best chats in the car and lying in bed. I know there will come a day when I’m lucky to get a grunt of acknowledgement out of him, so I cherish these conversations!
5- He still thinks I’m really cool.
I know the time will come. I know the time will come soon. I am thinking that I can maintain my coolness factor until Grade 1. I feel like Grade 1 is when your mom stops being the coolest person you know.
Right now, he still hugs me when he gets on and off the school bus. He still tells me he loves me at random moments throughout the day. He still snuggles me and wants to spoon at bedtime. He still trusts me as the authority on most things, bragging to people that I speak four languages. (Technically I speak 2.5 ….) He has never accused me of embarrassing him in public nor shooed me away. The dreaded “Mom, you just don’t get it” phase is coming … but for now he doesn’t get why he can’t live with me for the rest of his life!