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I'm A Big Kid Now! No, Not The Huggies Commercial...
Kids grow up FAST.
Whether you like being a parent or not, fact of the matter is, children grow up fast.
In my last post, I talked about how we only truly have 7 years of our children's lives to call our own.
And yet, for some parents, those 7 years still seem so long.
But what happens when in between those years, our own children start pushing us away?
Now I've always called my boys my "babies". No, no uber-manly-machismo parenting here.
And no way in hell will I ever call them "guy", "buddy", or "pal". Especially "buddy", I absolutely despise it when parents call their kids "buddy". In fact, my next Hub will be reasons why you shouldn't call your child buddy. That's how much I despise calling your kids "Buddy". Unless, of course, you named them Buddy. Which would conjure up images of dogs doing a smorgasbord of unrealistic things, like playing basketball and being in space.
So please, don't call your kids "buddy". Or name them "Buddy".
But back to our topic.
In my eyes, to me that's what they are--from the moment they were born, they were mine--mine to have and hold for only a certain amount of time, but to love for the rest of my life. I cherish their baby years the most, because that's when they need me the most--and the manliest I've ever felt is when I hold them in my arms. Holding the World Heavyweight Championship in real life would be second. Either way, they're interchangeable, let's leave it at that.
As such, I still refer to them as my "babies" every now and then, irregardless of where we are. Park, bus, car, restaurant--doesn't (and shouldn't) matter. It Doesn't matter to me, but lately I've noticed that it's starting to matter to someone.
"Not a baby daddy. I'm a big boy!"
At 5 years of age, my eldest son doesn't want to be called a "baby" anymore.
And I don't blame him. After all, big boys get to do more things. Like many parents now and in the past, the words "big boy" carries the same distinction that the title "CEO" for grown men. It empowers toddlers to transition into boyhood, just like how a title such as CEO empowers and transitions a drone into a corporate powerhouse.
When you were little, how many times did your mom tell you, "you can do so-and-so...when you're older". Or "only big boys get to do so-and-so".
Growing up, many of us--especially fathers--are told that the older we get, the more freedom we can have. In my case big boys didn't have to take their afternoon nap. Big boys didn't have to eat all their vegetables. But at the same time, the older we get, the more responsibilities we have. Sure, big boys got to ride their bike around the neighborhood on their own, but big boys also had to do the dishes. Big boys had to help mom with the chores. And big boys are not supposed to cry.
I guess I'm too blame myself. Crying spats and ill-timed tantrums on his part often gets me to retaliate by saying "Are you a baby or a big boy? Because you're acting like a baby. Do you want to sleep in Gerald's crib tonight?". When asking me to buy him a LEGO City playset, I told him that he's too young for it, and that only big boys get to play with certain LEGO sets. And when he asks if he can sit in the front seat, I tell him "Soon...when you're a big boy."
And yet, here I am, talking about those golden 7 years we should hang on to as parents, when indirectly I've been conditioning him--unintentionally--to grow up faster.
I want you to take a minute to ask yourself "Am I Unintentionally Forcing My Child To Grow Up Too Soon?"
I can bet that many of you do. I know I did. I can't promise that I won't ever do it, but consciously reminding myself that I should and limiting the times that I do it is realistically all we can do as parents. No textbook, ebook, seminar or trips to experts can change or alter human behaviour instantly. The best we can always do is try. Try more everyday. Try more times to do the right thing. Trying is always better than nothing. Remember that.
* * * * *
Tonight, Gerome told me that he was no longer "a baby, but a big boy". Sure, he's a big boy allright--he's 5. And when you're 5, you get to pick your own jammies, play with the bath toys longer, and get to bike outside with your friends on your own without us having to constantly be watching you. You get to drink iced tea, and order fries and burgers at Swiss Chalet, and even wear whatever shoes you wanna wear that day. And best of all, you get to have your own room, filled with Cars, Angry Birds, Pokemon and your own bed. It's great being a big boy.
But as he falls asleep in my arms, I look at him, and realize that no matter how much of a big boy he is, he'll always be that infant who popped out that sunny day in April 5 years ago, the baby who I spent 6 hours waiting at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital Emergency when he got pneumonia, the toddler who couldn't speak past the age of 2,now the little boy who still asks me to kiss his boo-boos, who asks me what this and that and who that is, who still runs to me when something bothers him, who just a few minutes ago asked me to sleep with him in his bed so he can fall asleep.
Yup, he'l always be "my baby" to me. But to the world. he's now "my big boy".