Ages and Stages

There was a woman who I knew only casually, who I bumped into every once in a while for a few years, who seemed to really dislike her child. Does that sound harsh? I know it does, but every single time I saw her I was subjected to a litany of complaints about her child and the particular stage he was at. “Terrible twos? Try terrible eighteen months!” she informed me when we first met. Then it truly was the terrible twos, followed by “I thought two was bad, but it’s nothing compared to age three! And I hear four year olds are even worse!”

I haven’t seen her for a while, but I can just imagine the conversation about horrible five year olds, bratty six year olds, all the way up to the teen years and beyond. “My child? He just turned twenty six. And can I just say that it is the WORST age?”

It’s pretty easy to dwell on negative aspects of your child’s particular stages, and forget about the benefits. Case in point: my bossy and dictatorial five-year-old (who may not be as unlike his mother as one may think) who believes that near-constant negotiation is the key to the universe. Perhaps there is a future for him in litigation, or maybe deal brokering? I can see him yelling into his BlackBerry: “Tell Miller that if he won’t move on the cost structure, then the whole damn deal is off! Just get it done!”. He’d be great at it!

Another point to ponder: if you are three and a half, you may have some very definite ideas about how things should look and work, but you may or may not have the coordination skills to make them work. Also, you may not have peed for eight hours and it may be 20 minutes until dinner, and that just might make you come completely undone. You may also resent your mother’s interference in such matters. “Honey, that’s a Lego piece, I don’t think it can fit in the Playmobil guy’s hand” is something your mother might say, innocently ruining your plan for world domination. “IT HAS TO WORK!!!! IT NEEDS TO FIT!!!” might be your typical response.

But disregarding those perfectly age-appropriate personality traits, I just have to say how happy I am that they are five and three and a half. Yesterday we went to the Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller (and if you are in Alberta or visiting Alberta, this is a must do) and it was so great. They are young enough to be thrilled every second, yet old enough not to pee in their pants or fall to the floor shrieking if you move on to the next exhibit. They are old enough to say “Could I please have my snack” rather than sobbing wordlessly while you try to figure out what’s wrong. They traveled happily in the car for two hours each way and it led me to a total epiphany.

Which was: I’m not dreading our annual summer vacation! This is a big step for me because in previous years, I was just completely worn out from the massive planning, and all the diapers, and snacks, and everything else. My “vacation” consisted of me doing all my usual household chores, just in a less convenient setting, with the added bonus of long visits with relations of my husband, who may or may not agree with my parenting methodology, if you catch my drift. The kids wouldn’t sleep well, which meant I didn’t sleep well, and I would be so exhausted I would end up shampooing my face in the shower.

But this year it’s going to be different, I can feel it. I’m excited about the beach, trusting that no one will shriek and run away when I try to apply sunscreen, I’m excited about the drive even, and that is saying something. So it’s a good stage to be in, don’t you agree?


  1. My three year old still runs from the sunscreen. Ah well.

  2. Anonymous says

    Buy the sunscreen that you shoot at them. Easier than wrestling to the ground.

Leave a Reply