By Amy L. Hatch
There are certain times of the year when it’s easy to spot the enormous changes in your children.
Yesterday, I took my kids to the beach by myself. It’s something I’ve been doing since my son was a toddler, and it has always been a hassle. Someone needs diapers, someone needs man-on-man supervision near the water, someone needs a bottle with cold milk, etc. etc. First-world problems to be sure, but just the kind of stuff you deal with when you go on vacation with your babies.
But we powered through.
So we loaded the car, grabbed out towels, slathered with sunscreen and headed for a nearby swimming hole. I set up our outpost close to the shore so I could begin my vigilant watch for the signs of drowning and watched as my son and daughter ran into the water.
And then I sat.
And sat some more.
My almost 4-year-old and my 7-year-old were just fine in the water without me. If I didn’t want to, I didn’t have to get wet.
Listen to this: I could have read a book.
When you parent young children you hear a lot from people that “this will pass” or “things will get easier.” That’s so hard to believe when you’re in the throes of sleep training or potty training or when 3-and-a-half shows up to work its black magic.
But I’m here to tell you: It really does change.
And, like everything, you will find yourself waxing nostalgic for those times when your child was an infant and they had that new-baby scent.
Or, you’re like me, and you do a silent jig when it becomes clear that reading on the beach is now a distinct possibility. This small revelation made itself known this spring, as well, when I took the kids to the park and was able to sit on a bench and watch them from afar. They didn’t want me to play with them; they were looking for playmates their own age.
These changes, big and small, are so evident to me in the summer because we do the same thing every year. We take the same trip, visit the same places. It’s like a virtual growth chart: Last year the water was over his head. Last year he had to nap. Last year he was in a stroller. Last year she was afraid to swim.
The changes are significant, and welcome. I don’t miss sleep deprivation and tantrums over activities that are meant to be fun and are truly a privilege.
But that doesn’t stop me from seeing their baby faces in the photos of my big kids playing together in the sand as I mark the time.
When do you notice changes in your kids?