You’ve heard me gush about my new baby nephew, but allow me to gush a bit about my older niece and nephew who stayed with us for a week in July.
I absolutely adore them and I want to encourage You, Parents “in the thick of it”, that there really is a light at the end of the parenting tunnel. And I promise you that the diapering and tantrum-ing and needy phases will be over all too soon and you’ll round the glorious corner and see an emerging, capable adult very soon.
Here are some of the things you can expect from your children in just a few short years:
- They feed themselves. Show them the fridge.
- They sleep, and stay asleep, and then sleep some more. Aaaahhh!
- They say please and thank you, and make eye contact without prompting.
- Some of them DRIVE!
- They dress themselves…nicely.
- They swim without clinging all over you.
- They load their dishes in the dishwasher (no kidding!)
- They make their beds.
- They have fun with each other and care for others.
- They’re eager to learn, help and work.
What surprised me most is that they weren’t addicted to their gadgets and in fact, were very cognizant when adults were using technology at the expense of human interaction. How about that?!
Doesn’t this sound magical? You, too, can have self-sufficient teens someday soon. But you have to invest hard work and long days and nights now, in the early years. A parent of four once said to me, “If you can’t handle your 2 year old, how will you be able to handle a teenager?” Wise words.
How can you make this happen? In my experience as an educator and an aunt, here’s the recipe:
- Love and attention, lots of it
- Responsive and nurturing caregiving
- Age-appropriate chores and expectations
- Consistency and follow through! A child’s job is to test, that’s how we all learn about the world, cause and effect: If I do X, then Y happens. Trouble is, children test and test and test and we adults simply get worn down. The secret is to stay consistent and offer the same result every time without giving in. It seems counter-intuitive but children prefer this, even while testing you, because they trust when we are predictable. They actually show more love and affection when an adult is consistent than when an adult gives in.
So take a deep breath and know that things are great now and are only going to get better and better over the years.