Every age group of kids seems to have their benefits and drawbacks.
Newborns don’t do much but eat, sleep, poop, and cry. But they are so dang adorable and precious, so brand new that it is hard to do anything but love them to pieces. And let’s not forget that newborn smell. Mmmmm…..
When they age a couple months, colic is probably the biggest headache for parents (not to mention the babies themselves!). The poopy diapers come in at a close second, and seem to quadruple and only get stinkier. They need to be picked up while you are standing, for once you sit down they start crying again. And that dang diaper rash never seems to fully go away! It gets to the point that you smell diaper cream at all times, even when you aren’t near them. But this is also when they develop their personalities. And that smile! Who can resist the newly acquired smiles that take over a baby’s whole body?
Then there’s the toddler stage. These adorable little creatures can be pure evil. I’m not kidding. Do not be fooled by that dimpled grin and the “I love you” that comes out of the blue. I’m telling you, they are only trying to distract you from the new peanut butter masterpiece they just left on your bedroom wall. And do they know any other word besides “NO”? Probably not, except for when they are being exceptionally bright and asking you questions that really have some thought put into it, or when they are suddenly keen on helping you set the table because it’s a fun new game to do with mommy. And I’m sorry, but no one can make you see things in an entirely new and brilliant way than a toddler.
When they get to be old enough to go to school, they suddenly learn all sorts of new habits to bring home and try out on mom. Talking back, lying, picking their nose, wearing the same clothes day in and day out…. Their messes get messier. Their noise gets noisier. Their demands get demandier (is that a word?). They suddenly have more responsibilities, and dang if they don’t forget every single one of them. You are now the craft maker, scout leader, taxi cab driver, phone operator, teacher’s assistant, secretary, project manager…. Your role as mom has just taken on a million new duties, and yet the pay is still the same. However, this is also the age when kids can carry on a more serious conversation with you, when you are beginning to share a few of the same interests, and when you are finally able to see them as future adults as they take on interests of their own that are outside of yours.
Get to the tween years and it’s a whole other ballpark. The good news first – at this age they are probably the most helpful they will be in all of their life until they become an adult. They are more willing and able to help with household chores and managing their younger siblings. They can be depended on, and are, for the most part, pretty trustworthy. The bad news – they have started to think you are the biggest idiot in the whole wide world, and are begin to believe that any association with you might just ruin their rep.
And finally, the teen years. These are just like the tween years, minus the helpfulness and triple the “idiot thing”. They are suddenly under the impression that they came up out of the ground rather than believing that they are actually related to you. Need them to do something for you? Please don’t hold your breath. But if they need something from you, they are pleasant as pie. And then as soon as they get you to bend, you are once again back to idiot status. With their suddenly almost adult appearance brings on more adult decisions to face. Drugs, alcohol, sex, the suddenly less clear line between right and wrong…. But teens can surprise you, too. They are capable of making the RIGHT decision. And contrary to popular belief, a lot of times they do make the right decision. Some of the most helpful community servants are teens. Teens are passionate about their beliefs, and many of them are vocal about them. And even further, they do something about those beliefs. While sometimes their ideas that they are invincible can give us parents a heart attack, that same believed invincibility is what makes them stronger than many adults. They aren’t jaded by the world of today. They are rebels WITH a cause, fighting for what they believe in, and set on fulfilling their dreams about what they want to do with their life.
Britain’s The Baby Website recently conducted a survey asking their readers what age they believed was the worst when it came to kids. Anyone have a guess? Without much surprise, the winner of the poll ended up in the teen years. Of 2000 parents, a large majority of them decided that boys were the hardest to handle at age 15, and girls at 14 were a handful. And while I can definitely see that the teen years are the most difficult, I can’t help but think it’s also the age with the most rewards. Here is when we get to see our kids as they will be when they are adults, when they are the most themselves (minus the snarky attitudes and unwilling demeanor, hopefully).
What do you think? What age do you believe is the most difficult when it comes to kids? And what is the most difficult and the most rewarding aspects of your child at the age they are right now?