Thursday, August 19, 2010

Age Matters

After a few recent adventures, it dawned on me that age really does matter. A lot. Particularly when you’re talking about juggling an assortment of activities for five kids who are five, three and one. Simply deciding on which playground to visit can mean the difference between my tiny tykes climbing, sliding and swinging to their heart’s content or perilously dangling from too high monkey bars and threatening to give their mother – and any innocent onlookers – a heart attack.

We’ve learned this, and many other age-appropriate lessons the hard way. We’ve spent Saturdays at the park where the “big kids” are bored (just shoot me if they say it again!) because they are too old to be satisfied by a sandbox. We’ve spent Sunday afternoons scouring the floor for LiteBrite pegs and little Lego pieces and praying that the triplets didn’t ingest them while we weren’t looking – because, let’s face it – we can’t always be looking! We’ve purchased birthday gifts and Christmas presents that are clearly marked for “ages 4 and up” or “ages 6 and up” and looked on befuddled as our junior wonders sucked on their washable markers instead of creating fine works of art. I suppose I’ve finally learned that age restrictions – or suggestions -- exist for a reason. And, we’re happier parents with happier kids when we elect to respect them rather than defy them… even though we both have a fairly healthy defiant streak!

In any case, it’s not always easy to find the right park/playground/toy/game for all five of our kids – and I now realize that’s ok. It's ok to divide and conquer and it's ok at times to make sacrifices for the good of the greater group… which in our case, as a family of seven, is quite sizeable! On occasion, Liam and Ciara may be stuck watching a Baby Einstein video instead of their preferred Backyardigans or, God help me, Sports Center. (Yes, at only five years old, Liam has become a Sports Center enthusiast. We clearly have his avid sports fan Dad to thank for that!) On occasion, the triplets have to sit on the sidelines while Liam and Ciara go for a swim in the “big pool” or tackle the waves at the beach. And, on occasion, we will all enjoy the universal appeal of building a sand castle or reading a good book together.

As the summer passes by and birthdays loom ever closer – all of our kids were born in October or November… heck, even I will mark the passing of another year this September -- it’s good to remember to enjoy the time that we have and not wish it away. One day – sooner that I care to imagine -- they will all be swinging from those too high monkey bars, creating fine art in whatever form they define it, and leaving Baby Einstein and the Backyardigans behind. I’ve found that it’s a lot less stressful – and a lot more fun – to enjoy the ages we all are today.

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