Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Toddler and a Teen

A lovely woman was over at our house Monday, someone we see occasionally, but always with delight. She looked at me earnestly and said, "I'm curious, how is it having a toddler and a teen at the same time?" My quick answer is that they are remarkably similar, the two year old and the thirteen (and our across the street neighbor had the same observation about her two)--they need lots of tending, want your attention all the time and switch moods at the drop of a hat.

Conversation somehow shifted Monday, and we were on to something else--clutter, holidays, nesting maybe--but the question stayed in my mind. Not that we have a toddler anymore, our little three year old (OK, Venti-sized three year old) is clearly preschool age and beyond toddlerhood, he insists that he is a "big boy" and he is right. The teen is smack dab in the heart of teenagehood, having turned fifteen on Monday, and we are in the thick of two major life phases at once.

Well, three really--our daughter is a preteen, which in a girl means she's somewhere near the teenage boy's stage, while if he was the eleven year old, he'd be playing with action figures and nowhere near teenagehood. Ah, gender...

Oh yes, maybe four major life stages--the wife and I are in our early forties, and I know I'm hitting the midlife crisis era bigtime--is this what life is all about? What if I die before I _____ (fill in the blank)? How did my waistline become this?

A teen and a toddler is good (more adult-sized people who love the toddler and a small person who bonds the teen to home), and bad (our toddler could tell people all about Snipers, and Star Wars characters and was traumatized by being exposed to TOO MUCH at a young age, and our teen was constantly reminded of the ways he couldn't be a teen in his own home because he would be a BAD INFLUENCE). Having a toddler and a teen home all day complicated our situation--and we hadn't planned on homeschooling when we decided to have a later life third baby, eight years after the second--but homeschooling happens and was ultimately the right choice.

Oh how happy he is to be back in public school.

Now that they're a little older, we've worked out acceptable boundaries for Teen Games, earlier bedtimes and age-appropriate exposures, making me a Happy Camper. Their relationship gets better as they both age, the young one appreciates the older more, making it easier to spend time together, instead of it being a wrestling match as they vied for dominance like male Bighorn Sheep hitting horns, disregarding any more than obvious inequality.

A toddler and a teen is OK, a preschooler and a Teen is even better.

On the easel: Blue
On the laptop: GLBT Voter Apathy and the Nation's Largest Emotional Damages LawSuit
On the art table: da Vinci Arts Fair acceptance form
On the nightstand: Walk Yourself Thin
On tape: The China Governess
On my mind: Having breakfast with Laurie, looking forward to writing tonight, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the holiday marathon that approaches

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