I spend a lot of time at coffee places, where I always ask for hot chocolate. Last week I was at a Caribou and placed my typical order of a small hot chocolate, and asked the server whether anyone else was ordering this nummy drink in July. She replied, “Nope,” and then she recanted, “actually, the really little kids still are. Those little kids just have to have their hot chocolate.”
Well, at least I’m in good company.
Last weekend, we attended the Basilica Block Party — saw the Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox 20! — with our two daughters and some friends. Elisabeth got separated from us in a mass of 10,000 spectators without her cell phone. Laura and I worried for a minute about whether she was okay and not being able to communicate with her, but then we laughed as we remembered that in two weeks she’ll be at the start of a ten month stay in India. Oh well, it would probably be good for us to get used to having those little flashes of worry from time to time.
There is an age, maybe at 12 or 15 months, where a child’s toys take a slight shift. Family and friends no longer give baby a stuffed animal or other large toy. Instead, they shower the tots with puzzles or other games with many pieces. For the children, this is appropriate, as their brain is growing and developing in such a way as to let them make the step up from playing with a large musical turtle when they’re young to assembling a puzzle when they reach the age of pieces.
(As a sidenote, we haven’t even reached the Legos phase yet with Timothy, but as much as I’ve forgotten about the early years of our (now) teenage daughters, I can never forget the searing pain of stepping on their stray Legos in the middle of the night. I think we’re more mentally prepared for our oldest daughter to spend a year in a faraway land than we are to have Legos littering our living room floor.)
Back to our story – this ‘pieceful’ revolution is hardly a fair fight for the adults, especially new parents or those who may have waited, say, 13 years between kids. Unlike their tiny counterparts, the parents have enjoyed no quantum leap in brain development (and some would argue that while the parents have gained some grey hair, they’ve lost a little grey matter since baby decided to step onto the scene).
While the parents are struggling to adapt to this new development, the kids just keep advancing, learning skills like how to turn over and dump out the receptacle that the parent just filled with the pieces.
And so for the parents, ‘clean up’ goes from taking a few minutes of bending down to pick up a large teddy bear to spending hours on their hands and knees obsessing about missing pieces and mumbling to themselves (‘where the he#$ did penguin number 3 disappear to?’).
I could go on and on about this, but suffice it to say that Laura and I just weren’t prepared for this arms race.
I don’t know – maybe I just need to talk with Timothy about going back to the simpler days of bigger toys.
Sounds like it’s time for a little father- son chat over a hot chocolate.
Overwhelmed and grateful,