Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The best parts of ages 0-6

Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I'm currently living with an almost-three-year-old and an almost-seven-year-old, and I have to say: I've enjoyed all the ages so far. Here's my breakdown of what to expect and what to cherish from each age:

0 years old

The best parts of ages 0-6 == Hobo Mama

This is a huge span, because you're going from a newborn to a toddler in one brief year. I say brief, but in my experience, this first year is one of the longest years of your life! In general, that's probably a good thing, so you can enjoy the newborn sleep-all-the-time phase (but then be quickly done with the never-sleep-anytime phase), those first early smiles (just gas? please!), the belly laughs of the four-to-six-month variety, and the burgeoning mobility of crawling, scooting, standing, and even walking (depending on how far your tot gets that first year) and the accompanying leaps in independence and learning. What an incredible year!

1 year old

The best parts of ages 0-6 == Hobo Mama
I think one-year-olds are a kick. This is another huge leap of a year, from near-baby to near-two-year-old. I especially love around 18 months, when the kids really start communicating with you (well, at least, when mine did!). I remember with Mikko it was around then that we started being entirely charmed by how adorable he was, and the colicky baby months were finally (finally!) starting to dissipate. I love how helpful one-year-olds love to be, mimicking your every move and helping you clean, feed the pets, water the plants, and a whole bunch of other things you didn't really need help with. And they're getting so independent — and, just wait, it keeps going!

2 years old

The best parts of ages 0-6 == Hobo Mama
Because then they're two, and it's all about "I do it myself!" Even if it frustrates them to tears. This can mean a slower start to outings when that jacket zipper just won't behave for pudgy little fingers, but I will boldly state, despite all the crap heaped on the "terrible twos," that I love two years old. What an utterly charming and adorable age! They really get a sense of humor, even if it's one joke. Mikko's was: "Knock knock. Who's there? Octopus car wash!" And Alrik's is just as sophisticated: "Knock knock. Who's there? Mikko. Mikko who? Mikko on the biiig pottt-yyyy!" (Repeat ad nauseam.) For those of you who are curious, mine at the same age was "Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the Band-Aid meeting!" There's just something about two-year-olds and awesome humor. I also love how snuggly and empathic a two-year-old can be — even as they're (justly) self-centered. (Why, of course the world revolves around you!) Also? Two-year-olds say things so dang cute! I keep hoping they never grow out of their immature accents and made-up pronunciations…but of course, they do.

3 years old

The best parts of ages 0-6 == Hobo Mama
Some people love three, and some people hate it. We lucked out with Mikko — maybe because we were still on a high from having left his troublesome newborn days behind, or maybe because we just had a kid who did well for three. Either way, I'm curious to see how Alrik shapes up! I can already see more … ahem … particularity creeping in. Some might call it stubbornness, or orneriness, or oh-my-gosh-just-do-what-I-say-for-once-ness. Either way, it's intriguing to see our sweet and compliant two-year-old switching to a more determined three. I remember Mikko during this age getting into tiffs with authority figures (not necessarily us, but it definitely happened) over little things, so I think it's a pushing-the-buttons sort of phase for a lot of people, particularly if two was sweet-natured. But I also loved how open and curious Mikko was at three, wanting to learn about body parts and babies and birth (well, I was pregnant), whale sharks and mummies and dinosaurs. It's a ripe age for that start of loving learning, and it's so exciting to see them soak it all in like a sponge, then impress you with their many tricks, like writing their own name.

4 years old

The best parts of ages 0-6 == Hobo Mama
Four is one of those years that can hit you hard as a parent, because they're changing so quickly from chubby-cheeked toddler into little kid. When you look back, you'll see how young they still were at four, but in the moment, it can be hard to look past those now-gangly limbs to peer back at the little baby-that-was. And they really do start to seem like kids around this age, making friends and moving out of parallel play and into social and cooperative play (some later than others — Mikko was pretty stubborn about not cooperating during play…). Four-year-olds can be hyper-logical one minute and the next regale you with fantastical tales about an imaginary friend.

5 years old

The best parts of ages 0-6 == Hobo Mama
I love five years old. I loved it for myself, too! For Mikko, it was a pretty sweet age. It seems to be an age for kids to engrain preferences and character traits, giving you a chance to glimpse into the future at the older kids, teenagers, and adults they'll grow into. They start really becoming themselves at five. Not that they weren't themselves before — but there's more of sameness to how one-year-olds and three-year-olds are, in groupings if not each individually, but by five, the child within really starts to differentiate. In some ways, this is sad, because you as the parent are waving goodbye to the chubby, toddling years and saying hello to loose teeth and knobby knees. But five-year-olds give back, with lots of love and a certainty that the love is returned. They are learning so much, making giant strides in physical coordination, and are still utterly charming and often hilarious. And … they never. stop. talking. They never stop asking questions and wanting to know more! I try to treasure both the insatiability and the confidence that you still know all the answers, or can help them find out.

6 years old

The best parts of ages 0-6 == Hobo Mama
Here's where we're at now, and I'll have to let you know later how seven is going. Early on in Mikko's sixth year, I read the Louise Bates Ames book Your Six-Year-Old: Loving and Defiant and summed it up thusly to Sam: "She says six-year-olds are jerks." Only I used a naughtier word. It actually made me feel good to read what she wrote, because we'd been having some stand-offs with Mikko that I'd been unprepared for, and it was a relief to realize two things: (a) That's totally normal for six, and (b) I actually liked Mikko much better than the book implied I should. Ha! To put the jerkiness of six-year-olds in perspective, it's more a growth of logic and self-confidence. "Why should I do what you want, when I could do what I want?" And probably some of the head-butting comes from parents being done-done-done with the self-centeredness of younger childhood and being ready to move on to a more empathic and reasonable state, which six-year-olds are perhaps just not quite ready for. Again, I think it's one of those years where you must look back later and think, My goodness, she was so much younger than I realized! Our six-year-old is still charming us. He is amazeballs at math and refuses to learn to read (I presume this is a very individual thing, but it's so interesting to witness). He's very spiritual and wants to understand the universe and his place in it, and tell us what he's decided. He's outspoken in his opinions and fast to make new friends of all ages, at the coffee shop, at the playground, in line at the checkout. He feels deeply and still needs lots of cuddles. So even as he wants to know, constantly, what's in it for him, he gives back with his generous nature (back scratches, surprise gifts, sweet gestures toward little ones around him) and makes us really glad we've had these six years with him and an anticipation of what year seven will bring.

The best parts of ages 0-6 == Hobo Mama

What's been your favorite age with your kids so far? What age do you look forward to?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon May 13 with all the carnival links.)

  • Making Space — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is adjusting her thinking and making room for her babies to stay near her.
  • The Best Parenting Resources for Parents of Toddlers — Toddlers can be so challenging. Not only are they learning how to exert their independence, but they simply do not have the developmental ability to be calm and logical when they are frustrated. It's the nature of the beast. I mean … the toddler. Here are Dionna at Code Name: Mama's favorite books and articles about parenting a toddler.
  • The Fab Five Stages so Far — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen couldn't choose just one stage for this carnival and is sharing her top five favorite stages in the young lives of her son and daughter at Natural Parents Network.
  • The best parts of ages 0-6 — Lauren at Hobo Mama gives a breakdown of what to expect and what to cherish in each year.
  • Lessons from Parenting a Three-Year-Old — Ana and Niko at Panda & Ananaso are quickly approaching the end of an era — toddlerhood. She shares some of her thoughts on the last two years and some tips on parenting through a time rife with change.
  • Feeling Needed — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders which developmental stage is her favorite and why. She bares it for us, seemingly without fear of judgment. You might be surprised by her answer!


Anonymous said...

What a great look back at the stages your kids have gone through! Just wait, there's more!

Laura said...

Oooh. I love the list on 5 and 6. I'm excited to see what they bring for me and trying to focus on that excitement over the grief that those "baby days" are OVER for my little man!

Lauren Wayne said...

@survivingmexico: I can't wait! I really am looking forward to all there is to come. It was fun to read your post today for that reason!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Laura: Totally! When I feel mopey about my kids growing, I remember that this is at heart what I want for them — to keep developing and maturing and enjoying what life has to offer them! Enjoy your next stages. :)

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Oh man. I wish I could go back and leave myself sticky notes everywhere that they are still so little - because at least with Kieran, he just seemed to get big so fast! Especially, of course, when Ailia came along.
So far, I've really loved the 1, 2, and 5 year old stages the best. You're right - 4 made me exceedingly sad. And 6 so far, while it has come with its independence struggles, has also been lovely for us - maybe even moreso than 5!

Anonymous said...

When Sebastian was just about 2.5, his dad commented that he wished he could just stay that age forever. We've loved every age but 2.5 was a perfect blend of baby-ness and KID-ness. I love where we are at too though, 3.5. The older he gets the more his affection makes me feel special. But it is hard sometimes to watch him grow into his own person.

(BTW, Sebastian is also good at math - numbers & shapes, very simple addition - but pretty determined not to read.)

Zeke isn't as high-needs as Sebastian was at his age. He's a year old this month and so fun and chill and EASY.

Having two kids at different ages is definitely more enjoyable for me than having just one. They entertain each other, for one, but they also balance each other out when I'm getting burnt out with one of them. (Not burnt out with THEM so much as their AGES, yanno?)

Loved reading about your experience with the ages we haven't reached yet. Fun post! :) :)

Unknown said...

You did such an amazing job of shining a positive light on each stage! I know there are highs and lows to every stage, and sometimes I get caught up on the negatives.

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