Here’s the sometimes cruel irony of having multiple children – while it’s true there are more kids to love, there are also more issues to encounter. When my older two were younger, they were really difficult. At that same time, my younger two were a dream. Just about the time the older ones let up, the younger ones started in. And boy, are they challenging our parenting skills – or the lack thereof – in new ways.
Take, for instance, Grace’s sudden desire for junk food. She and her brother, Grant, recently offered to walk to the grocery store for me when I’d forgotten an ingredient for the dinner I was in the midst of preparing. I should have been suspicious of their willingness and enthusiasm for running an errand for me. They got the ingredient alright, but with her own money, Grace stocked up on cookies, chips and soft drinks!
Poor, deluded child, she thinks that just because she is slender now and very athletic that this junk will have absolutely no effect on her insides much less her outsides. We had a little refresher talk about healthy eating during which I mentioned my years and years of efforts to make sure I was always feeding them a healthy diet. Grace immediately perused the array of ingredients I was preparing for dinner and said: “Look at the things you want us to eat – chicken, salad, red peppers, carrots – how do you expect us to eat this stuff?!”
“Uh, willingly and gratefully,” I replied.
Then there’s the budding lady’s man, Grant. Now that we’ve moved within blocks of his school and therefore his friends, he wants to hang out with them all the time, all over the neighborhood. This would be fine except that they are 13-year-old ladies and gentlemen with hormones a-raging. On several occasions, Grant was not where he was supposed to be, when he was supposed to be there and with whom he was supposed to be there. Like hormone magnets, the gang keeps ending up at the house of one of the girls whose parents won’t be home for hours. I want Grant to have some freedom but within guidelines for what’s safe, wise and lawful.
In our old neighborhood, the kids’ didn’t have any friends to hang out with (we were the oddity in the neighborhood as 40-somethings, among either elderly people with poodles or 20-something’s with newborns). We were eager to have them be closer to their friends yet it’s a bit more of an adjustment than I had anticipated. What’s safe to do? Who is it safe to be with? Can these blossoming vixens be trusted? What about my son the “play-ah”?
I must interject here to say that there have been plenty of joyful, fun, very rewarding times in our parenting lives. It’s just that the difficult times seem to override the easier times which is frustrating and a shame.
I find it kind of amazing that I’m just now experiencing parenting issues that I never did before. I guess that’s what keeps it all so gosh darned interesting, isn’t it? Each child and each day brings another set of, let’s say, opportunities for parenting growth.