5-years old is a fun age. I know our oldest has only been five for a handful of weeks now, but I've loved every minute of it. Is this what people have meant by it gets easier? (And it only took 5 years! Not including 9 months of pregnancy!)
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being a stay-at-home mom. I love spending every day with my kids and helping them through each milestone, kissing every boo-boo, wiping away every tear, scaring away all the monsters, and going on countless backyard adventures. Every momma knows that there are easy stages and hard stages. 5 years old has proven to be one of those stages that feels like a fun adventure, glittered with childhood imagination and peppered with mysteries to solve and experiments to conduct. I love it.
D's imagination at 5 has just taken off. He's always been big on costumes and pretend play, but now we have elaborate plots and various "rules." I love when he pipes up from the backseat, "Hey, Momma! Want to hear a story?" Of course I do! His stories are long-winded and sometimes missing a point, but some of them are laugh out loud funny and others are just heartwarming (like the little boy who had two little brothers that he loved more than anything in the whole wide world-- yeah, super cute!). I love when he tries to play Magic School Bus with his 2-year old twin brothers, "No, no! You are Arnold. You have to say... And, Carlos! You have to sit here! Where are you going?" I'm supposed to be Ms. Frizzle in the chaos, but it is too cute half the time to intervene.
Even better, 5 seems to be the magical age of explaining and negotiating. No longer do we have conversations like the one I had with one of our 2-year olds the other night, "No green beans, no watermelon. Yes green beans, yes watermelon," holding up samples of said items to reinforce my point. I can tell D things like, "You need to be a gentleman at breakfast. A lot of family came to town to see you. They want to talk to you. Do not use potty words. Tell them the things you've learned about the beach this summer." And guess what? He behaved like a perfect gentleman, even pulling me to the side later to tell me that he did just what I said and "didn't use potty words or anything potty talk except when I had to go poop then I said, 'Excuse me, I have to go poop.'" (Still working on etiquette!)
He didn't want to go to his summer day camp because he was going to miss me too much, so we talked about one of our favorite family reads, Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdey (honestly, you should check out all of the Llama books). I asked him what happened when Llama Llama went to school. D says, "He missed his momma and started crying because he wanted to go home." I urged him to go further, "But then what happened? What did his teacher tell him?" D answered quickly, "She said it was okay to miss Momma! That Momma was coming back!" He told me about all the fun things Llama Llama did at school before his momma came to pick him up again. And then I quoted the last pages of the book, "Llama finds out something new. He loves Mama... and school too!" When I dropped him off at summer day camp, he leaned forward to kiss my cheek and whispered to me, "I love Momma and camp too!" Precious.
There, of course, are new things to deal with at 5. He has his little pride. When he fails at something, like making a basket or hitting the ball, and we laugh, he takes it very personally. (Okay, it sounds mean when I write it like that, but it is absolutely adorable when our little 5-year old shakes his little bottom before pulling the bat back and swinging as hard as he can, missing the ball, and spiraling down to the ground. Adorable. You keep a straight face!) He feels left out, especially when we are doing something with his brothers and not him, like their speech therapy sessions. "Why can't I play? Will someone come over to do speech therapy with me?" He wants to be a big boy, just like his dad. "The baby-sitter is here for my brothers, but she is going to big-boy-sit me, not baby-sit." He wants to be the center of attention and a stand-up comedian. "What do you call a snail on a ship? A SNAIL-or! What do you call a dog on a ship? A SNAIL-or! What do you call a baby on a ship? A BABY!" (Okay, still working on etiquette and jokes...) And a 5-year old can take whining to an all new level. He makes our 2-year olds look like amateurs, which, in a way, they are. He can whine for an entire day. I tell him, "Bud, you need to speak up and use your regular voice." He replies, barely audible, "thisismyregularvoice...." I don't know always what sets off the whining. Sometimes he feels he's been slighted, like if I make him give a toy to his brothers or if I say no to making double chocolate chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. I don't like the whining, but, man, sometimes I need to laugh out loud because the level of whining he can reach is just absolutely ridiculous! Surely there is a Preschool Olympics somewhere I could enter him in...
I love that he has interests now besides just loud trucks or stacking blocks. He wants to build towers and cities for his action figures. He wants to get really good at baseball and basketball. He wants to ride his bike without training wheels. He wants to be an "army guy" and a sailor and a firefighter and Superman when he grows up. He wants to help with all my chores and know how to fold the laundry like I do. He wants to bathe himself, brush his own teeth, get himself ready by himself. He wants to walk close to me without holding my hand. He wants to show me how "awesome" his Listening Ears are, as we call them. He wants to know how things work and why things are the way they are. He wants to listen to the whole story and ask questions, read more stories about a topic. He wants to tell me everything he knows and everything he did that day (of course when he wants to tell me, not when I ask). He wants to be the world's best big brother, the world's best bike rider, the world's best seat belt buckler, the world's best popcorn eater...
There are still challenges. It is hard to balance his interests when I'm also chasing twin 2-year olds. It is hard to listen to everything when we are in the midst of a move and I need to take the phone call. But that is just life. Life happens.
I love when parenting is this delightful, this joyful, this rewarding. There are many sleep-deprived nights, early mornings changing vomit sheets, horror at finding the diaper was removed sometime during afternoon nap, and tears shed over worry and heartbreak. And potty training. Really not looking forward to potty training our toddlers (putting it off for a long, long time). I don't want to jinx it, but I absolutely love 5-years old.