Monday, August 5, 2013

It's Official - The Growing Up phase is almost over....

My family has a "tradition" it seems.  Most of the women have a couple of kids in their 20's and then sometime around the age of 35, they add in a third one.  Although the age of the mother's might be a bit different, the age difference between the children tends to always be 9 years.  My mom was 9 years younger than her brother, my sister is 9 years younger than our youngest brother (who was a 3rd child) and Hunter is 9 years younger than Dallas.  As a genealogist, I found that this "tradition" goes back generations - and not just on my maternal side.  My paternal side has a history of this as well.

There are a lot of good things to be said about this "tradition"; older parents have more patience, more experience, and more money.  Any parenting issues have usually been worked out already in the older children; take for example the fact that our Nikki got a bath every single night.  The very thought of her going to bed without one was horrifying!  By the time Dallas was born, it was not quite such a horrible thought to bear if I considered skipping one every so often.  Nine years later, Hunter got his feet, hands and face washed and a clean pair of underwear and we were good to go on the occasional busy evening.

Or, consider the fact that most first time parents read every book they can and NEVER want to even consider the thought that their pediatrician might not always have the right advice.  With Nikki, we dealt with an underarm rash during her toddler years that would not go away despite several prescriptions of something or another from her doctor.  Older women in my life kept telling me it was probably the apple juice but her doctor kept poo pooing that as an "old wives tale".  Finally, when her rash was so bad it was leaving scars, I took her off of apple juice and walah!  No more rash.  When Dallas came along, I took the doctors advice AND listened to the poo pooed "old wives tales" as well.  A particularly bad case of teething got him a bit of whiskey poured on a cloth diaper and rubbed on his gums...out the boy went for a good nights sleep!  Again, with Hunter, I ended up on a formula that my doctor wouldn't "recommend" when he had digestive issues that made both of us miserable.  Within four days, all digestive issues disappeared and I recommended that formula to everyone whose baby suffered the same issues (when they weren't first time parents who thought anything their doctor said was gospel :)

So, parenting Hunter was a lot different than parenting the older two; I was more experienced and wiser in my choices because I had a greater understanding of the pendulum that swings continually as the so-called experts switch back and forth on their theories of child rearing (many of whom are academics floating out Utopian theories of how they want things to be!)  I slowed down and enjoyed every single minute of parenting him because I knew how quickly the time would come when he would flee the nest.

This more laid back form of parenting worked well with his personality.  His siblings called him the "self raising child" because David and I only needed to offer gentle guidance to him through the years.  He did his homework without having to be told to do so; he kept his room decently clean and organized without having to be constantly told to;  he chose friends slowly and carefully making sure their habits and values were similar to his.

At 17, he and his girlfriend still are totally okay with hanging out here or at her house and with only dating in group settings.  There is never a word of complaint that both households still have the same rules that applied when they began dating two years ago.  Hunter was in no hurry to get his driver's license and seemed to enjoy that hour we spent every school day together in a car with no distractions to stop us from checking in to each other's life and thoughts and worries and goals and....

He got that drivers license this morning.  And he registered to vote.  And he checked the organ donor box on the form. Afterwards, I dropped him off at the high school for a day of Marching Band Camp.  And as I pulled out of the parking lot, it hit me.  It's here.  He's about to start his senior year of high school; he'll be driving himself every day. The final phase of that proverbial cutting of the apron string is upon me.  Because when he flies the nest, it will be completely empty!

Not sure how I feel about this.......

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