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May 24, 2014

A reminder of the small-child years

It’s amazing how quickly you forget what earlier stages of parenting are like. This is probably a blessing — and one that only evolved after countless generations of parents only had one child because they could remember each stage too clearly.

In case you haven’t guessed, logic like this is the reason I’m not a biologist. 

A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of traveling to Pittsburgh and visiting with some friends of mine from college. I slept in their guest room, too, because they are that sort of friends, the ones you can call and say, “hey. I’ll be in town for a strange set of reasons. I want to see you, too, but I also want you to let me sleep in your guest room.”

We’re all in our early 40s. My kids are almost 12 and almost 9, well into the part of adolescence where parenting is more mental than it is physical. My friends have two boys under the age of 5 and are deeply in the endurance phase. 

Let me make it abundantly clear: the two boys are beautifully behaved and terribly sweet. Theyact completely appropriately for their ages, which are, again, younger than 5.

I was exhausted just watching all the daily madness that small kids require. Like breakfast. You can’t just stand by the coffee machine and grunt while pointing at the cabinet where the cereal is. I’d forgotten how much of a game changer it was when both of mine learned how to get themselves out of bed and find food.

I’d also forgotten about the necessity of naps for the smaller ones and how you have to plan around them. And I’d forgotten about how active how pre-schoolers are every minute of every day. Mostly, for these two, this involved playing with trains, interspersed with stories. Not hard, mind, but all-consuming when you have to keep half an eye on what’s going on.

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