‘Tis the beginning of the new school year in Australia, and many parents are watching their little ones head off to the wonder that is formal education for the first time. Watching our children take this big step into the world can be bittersweet. It is normal to feel excited for them and yet still mourn the loss of their baby and toddler years. My own Little Miss Wasn’tSheJustBornYesterday starts high school on Monday, so I do understand the emotions.
But our kids growing up doesn’t have to be all sadness and nostalgia. Buck up, little campers! Here is a list of milestones that parents can look forward to over the years:
Getting Up in the Morning Without Waking Their Parents – Picture this – you wake up, fresh from a full night’s sleep. The birds are singing, the sun is shining and the day seems full of endless possibilities because nobody has prised your eyelids open at 6 am to bellow “You awake Mummy?” or climbed into bed beside you to perform a tapdance on your full bladder. Your loungeroom will of course look like a thrash metal band has been partying there over night, but this is a small price to pay for that extra hour’s sleep.
Doing Up Their Own Seatbelt – I swear doing up child restraints requires some sort of formal qualifications in engineering science, and we are expected to do it while balancing on one leg, lying across a backseat full of Miscellaneous Crap. One day, your child will be able to “click-clack front and back” themselves. Of course lack of designated car seating means beside the car becomes a battlefield as they all attempt to enter by the same door, but at least your back wont be aching so much.
Turning the Shower On and Off – No more “Soggy Sleeve”! I know! Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Many kids are taught this just before they head off to school camp for the first time. I wouldn’t bother if you have boys, because they wont shower anyway. You’ll be lucky if they change their clothes.
Make a Sandwich – Bugger filling the pantry with healthy and tasty snacks over the school holidays. All moans of “I’m huuuuuungryyyyyy” get met with “Make a sandwich”. No need to cook a separate meal for fussy eaters, as if they don’t want dinner – “make a sandwich”. Be prepared though – the loaf of bread will be squooshed from reaching for the freshest slices in the middle, there will be goobies in the butter and the nutella jar will empty daily.
Leaving Them at Home – There was a bit of a kerfuffle about this in the paper recently. I have to say I was surprised to read a lot of people saying 14 was the youngest a child could be left unattended at home. I was working a McJob at 14. It depends on the kid. The first time you duck down to the shops for groceries without the row of ducklings dragging their feet behind you is absolute bliss.
Riding or Walking to Friends’ Houses and School – I hate organising playdates. Hell, I hate the word playdates. I am so glad that my kids are old enough now to 1. organise themselves and 2. call it “hanging at so-and-so’s house”. As for walking to school (if you live close enough) – well any parent who has battled the school drop-off and pick-up will understand completely. Added bonus for those of us who work from home – PJs all day. ‘nuff said.
What parenting milestones have you most rejoiced in?