I've heard this a lot lately and I've even repeated it myself to parents of younger kids. But no matter what the age and stage when you're in the middle of it, it all seems overwhelming so I was so glad to read a post by Kay at the MOAT blog. There are many blogs devoted to new parents and young children but they seem to peter out by the time their kids are into adolescence. I guess partly because so many of us are back at work full time or are just consumed by the endless chauffeuring, grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking for a herd of hungry tween and teenagers. And, as we all know, it doesn't get easier, just more complicated. No longer are play dates planned around the parents we want to hang out with, now we either spend time hanging around arenas, soccer pitches or gyms waiting. Picking up and dropping off at the movie theatre or a friend's where they are hanging out. I now know not to have my first glass of wine before all are home and accounted for. A couple of times I was caught about to settle in in front of the fire with my favourite Cab Sauv and a book when I remembered I was single parenting and there was one or more kids who still had to be picked up.
Kay's photo of the swings in the front yard of a house reminding her of the hours spent pushing one or another child took me back to simpler times. Our swing set/jungle gym which we got when our oldest was two is now primarily used by the boys as a launching pad for any number of STBT (Stupid Teenage Boy Tricks). She was at a panel discussion by Grade 8 parents and one of the things someone said was that their kids can't play with others until they can treat one another with respect. That's a tough one around our house right now. My boys are horrible to each other, the taunts, teasing and put downs are endless and they always hit the other where it hurst the most. They know one another's weak spots and go for it. So I came up with a new consequence - for every put down or negative comment they have to clean a toilet. Now since they are the ones who are responsible for the horrendous state of the toilets in the first place I feel this is a win-win situation and, although I can't imagine a time in the future when there is neither a dirty toilet to be cleaned or a negative comment free day, a MOB can dream.
As for the bigger problems that come with bigger kids we are just entering into that territory. School is the biggest issue and one that is going to unfortunately cost us money to deal with. Number One Son is most likely going to a private ski school next year and, as we have decided to move, the other two will be changing their schools as well. Number 2 has just realized that despite all the bullying issues he has dealt with over the past few years, it is still a little scary to think about changing schools for grade 8. I know it will be tough but hopefully in the end it will get us all where we want to be. They boys closer to the ski hill, their friends and busy on and off the snow. We all know that the key to keeping kids out of trouble is keeping them busy and while I haven't had to deal with our eldest partying I have heard from other parents that it has begun. Numbers 2 & 3 will probably more than make up for their introverted eldest brother who didn't even want to go to his own coed bowling birthday party which we hosted with three other families.
I really do believe and know that we are not doing our kids any favours by giving them everything and doing it all for them whether it's at school or at home and, as I have said a million times, I do not want to be the mother-in-law who my future daughters-in-law hate. Therefore, along with cleaning toilets, my boys will be doing laundry, vacuuming and generally helping to keep the house clean for any up-coming open houses or showings *shudder* because, here we go again. It's been six years in this house and right on schedule, we're moving. No. 2 will not be getting the outrageously expensive camera he wants for his birthday but instead we will give him a bit of money and I have helped him to line up a mother's helper job for the summer so that he can earn and save money to buy the camera if he still wants it. No. 1 will be doing summer school to get a head start on grade 10 and No. 3 well, I'm still working on what to do with him but I do know that they will all be put to work clearing the lot once we get it in anticipation of building the house. Boys and chainsaws, what could possibly go wrong?