Sam Davies reflects on how much work his kids used to be. Now, like, throw them in the car, be on your way.
Photo by: Curtis Gregory Perry
Humans keep making more humans. Worldwide, at least three or four babies are born every single day1. Some of these tiny humans are born to first-time parents, some are born to grizzled parenting veterans, and all of them have yet to play Secret of Mana.
Every day my daughters also get older. They learn new things, forget old things, and pick up both good and bad habits. My older daughter is nine and was born to first-time parents. My younger daughter, who is now nearly six, wasn’t. Neither has played Secret of Mana yet, but I’m working on it.
Every day there are more kids that my kids are older than. Sure a good bit of their time is spent with their close-in-age peers at school and formal activities, but a trip to the neighborhood playground can easily find my nine-year-old helping to guide a two-year-old towards the swings that are closer to the ground. It used to be that my little baby might be the only child at a party. Now, we go to parties and sometimes my girls are the oldest kids there.
There’s so much luxury that comes with having a non-baby kid, that I forget how restricting life was before. My oldest kid doesn’t need a car seat any more. Do you know how much time parents think about which car(s) the car seats are in? Not a lot, because you just assume that if your kid is going anywhere it’ll be in your car because there’s no way you’re moving that car seat once it’s installed. Now, my kid can just ride in any old car. She’s not hitchhiking or anything like that, but if a friend or neighbor needs to drive her around for some reason, she just has to get in the car and buckle up. No. Big. Deal.
To parents of younger children, I want to send out this message: there will come a day when you do not think at all about your child’s bowel movements–it just ceases to be your problem. I can remember cancelling plans because a poop didn’t happen. Now, my kids specifically choose high fiber cereal.
Oh, and did you know that you’ll get to have conversations with your kids? That they will talk you as they contemplate good and evil, and give you detailed analysis of the different Hogwarts houses? And as they become less and less tiny, you’ll realize that they are complex humans that have depths that you cannot fathom, in the same way that no one fathoms your own depths. I get small glimpses into my daughters’ and it fills me with awe.
As my kids get older, they are also able to relate more directly with grown-ups. My nine-year-old loves to read and will gladly talk to you about books. My six-year-old (after warming up to you) will tell you all about the musical, Hamilton. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still kids who want to run around like goofballs and play with toys, but they can hold their own at a “grown-up” party.
Because I was not the first parent, I know that there are parents of kids older than mine, who have reach a point where their kids are even more independent, if not more surly, and can tell me all the things that I think about all the time today, that I just won’t contemplate in 10 years. And, I know that my kids will eventually hit a point where little toddlers are just as enigmatic to them as toddlers are to grown-ups. At some point, the babies become the little kids, the little kids become the big kids, the big kids become the teenagers, and the teenagers start pretending they’re the adults until they realize that they actually are.
I’m glad I had to go through the crucible that was early parenting to get to where my family is today. I never want to do it again, but I’m glad I went through it. I know there are crucibles I’m going through now but not even noticing, and I know there are the things coming in my parenting future that will make me seriously consider why we undertook this whole enterprise. I’m grateful that humans perceive time linearly and that I get to walk that straight line with the family I’ve made.
- Citation needed. ↩