There’s a popular saying about parenthood: “The days are long but the years are short”. Any parent you run that by will nod in agreement, heck yes, the years shoot by! My baby is seven now and next week is her last week of First Grade. In approximately 7 weeks I will have a Second Grader. My friends with younger kiddos have asked me at one point or another what the biggest difference is once school starts. I can without a doubt tell you that if growing up is a flame, then school is the gas.
She still has these adorable baby hands. Her face is changing. She wakes up taller and looking different almost every day now. We went surfing over the weekend and it was incredible to see how strong she was paddling compared to exactly this time last year. In 12 months she became strong enough to paddle through waves back to her coach. That’s not 12 months of surf training by the way, she hasn’t been surfing since this time last year. Over the course of the year she became able to carry the surf board, get it in the water and start catching her own waves. Now I find myself on the sidelines more. I’m no longer the coach’s helper I’m simply a spectator. She’s the queen of “let me do it myself” and the duchess of “actually can you help”. Perhaps one of the more interesting things I get to witness as a parent is seeing all of her friends branch off into various interests. They’re able to express what they want to try and what they want to pursue.
I was warned seven is going to come with specific challenges. Apparently 7 year olds are prone to tantrums and allegedly more tantrums than some two year olds! You read that right, we have to prepare for 7 year old tantrums. My friend who is a child development specialist broke it down for me like this: their brains are doing a major change right now from how am I similar to my caretakers to how am I different from them. That’s a MAJOR shift in how the brain processes the world. This means they’re going to take what you say and test if it’s really true, so if you have shown them one way of tying their shoes they might want to try their own way of doing it – and the results can sometimes be frustrating, cue the tantrum. In our discussion about brain changes, I asked my friend if being at school all day and all the energy that takes kinda zaps the “frustration tolerance” they have and she said school is absolutely a factor. All day long their little brains are firing 100 miles an hour trying to learn not just the school work but how to get along with others, boundaries, navigating frustration and conflict in a school appropriate way … etc etc etc. She said that will fry anyone let alone a kid whose brain is making new connections all day long. AND, perhaps this is the biggest take away … MEET THESE TANTRUMS WITH LOVE. You and I both know ketchup touching the fries is not a big deal but if you had a day of frustrating experiences and now your fries have ketchup touching them BEFORE YOU WANTED THEM TO, you’d be out of the ability to respond well too. Remove the poison fries, give your exhausted one some new ones and a big kiss. Think of how you feel at the end of an exhausting day and then you get home with your take out and the order is wrong … you definitely were upset. That’s the 7 year old experience.
Another thing she warned me about was deliberate boundary testing ala the “terrible two’s”. Ok that one she did not have to warn me about because I have been feeling CRAZY lately at the amount of times I have to repeat myself to get basic things done like “brush your teeth”. At the peak of my frustration I counted 7 commands to brush her teeth that went completely ignored. I kept scratching my brain like how do I fix this because I’m either going to lose my temper, become a perma nag or she’s just never going to listen to me again. This time I went to Pinterest and I saw “chore charts”. Don’t get me wrong brushing your teeth is not a chore. But I liked the idea of a checklist. Baby Daddy bought me a printer when we moved to Boca so I put it to use and printed out three identical checklists and hung them up in her bathroom, outside her bedroom door and on her bathroom mirror. They itemize everything she has to do in the morning before she’s allowed to play with her toys or watch TV. HALLEJULAH people this worked the first try and hasn’t failed me since. Turns out she likes having a list. She likes checking things off and she even added more steps such as “Call Mema” to her list. Thank you Pinterest for the inspo.
I plan on enjoying my sweet girl all summer as I was warned the kisses and the sugar are going to dramatically reduce and come to a full halt. While I knew logically this day was coming, my mama’s heart is not ready. Every kiss she plants, every “I love you” note she writes I cherish because I know those days are numbered. This is the year I am supposed to become “not cool” and I’m gonna take it on the chin but I’m not looking forward to it. I love kissing her forehead which still has a teeny bit of baby squish left to it and I am going to squish her every single chance I get. I’ve seen preteens they want none of that!
Where my 9-11 year old parents at? I want to look ahead and prepare! Drop me a comment or a note with some stuff you wish you knew or things you want other parents to know about.