This year it really hit me that I no longer have a baby, a toddler, or a preschooler anymore. Not even a Kindergartener or a First Grader. The boys are now full-on Elementary School kids. I got used to being a “new” mom. I enjoyed thinking up crafts, writing down funny things tiny kids say before they are self conscious, promoting sleep training, and urgently researching learning styles. The hard stuff from those days already fading away. But the years roll on and things are a little different now. I have not quite recognized my new life with strong-willed, video game-loving Second and Third-grade boys that have loads of homework and increasing social pressures. A lot more arguing and hurt feelings. I wonder if this blog has come to an end — “The Sandbox Years”. It’s almost been a full year since I last posted anything. In reality, Luke and Colton no longer live and breath garbage trucks and train tracks, and how long ago was it that we had that sandbox in the backyard?
So is that it? Childhood over? Are we now fast-tracked towards the teenage years with daily arguments, busy lives, and technology battles before they slip away into adulthood? It’s honestly felt that way.
But last weekend I was reminded that childhood has not left us.
The boys were unusually calm, a positive mood settled over the house. No yelling or conflict, only happy little voices. From the boys’ bedroom, I heard Colton call out, “Luke, let’s find our stuffed animals! Where are they?” I chime in that they are stuffed in a couple of baskets under Luke’s bed. I peak into their bedroom and see only Colton’s legs sticking out from under the bed. “Yes! They are all here! Help me, Luke, let’s bring them out of the dark.” After about 20 minutes I hear a shout. “Mom! Mom, you have to see this. I can’t believe how many stuffed animals we have. Come see! They are so happy now. They thought they were in the belly of a monster it was so dark under the bed. Now they are in the light. I want them to live on our beds forever.” Luke picked up my old teddy bear I used to fall asleep with every night I lived at home with my parents. “Mom, where do you want your teddy bear to sit? He knows you best. He’s just getting to know us, so you pick where he should sit.” I hold my old teddy bear and tuck him next to the others.
Not only is it obvious that I’ve been irrational and can see that my 7.5 and 9-year-old boys are smack dab in the middle of childhood, but a strong feeling washes over me —that the child within us lives on forever. No matter if you’re 3, 9, 39 or 93. Besides all of my adult responsibilities, I think of how I still want to curl up on my mom’s lap and have her tell me it’s all right when I’ve had a hard day or share stories with my hands wrapped around a warm cup of tea at the kitchen table in my pajamas. How I still want to run and laugh and be silly. How it still feels good to hug a teddy bear.