As I posted on my Facebook account this morning, today is my 4th child’s birthday. Mollie turns 11 today. We celebrated her birthday yesterday though because, well, today is Monday, and Monday as we know brings many challenges with soccer, a soccer party, swimming, Honor Chorus, and committee meetings. Add a birthday and cupcakes into the mix as well as an appliance service call and grocery shopping … let’s just agree that Mollie’s birthday was better celebrated yesterday.
Mollie’s day comes at the end of a two week span known as “birthday season” in my household. We have four birthdays within two weeks, and Halloween in between. Yes, I know (and have heard) all about the jokes of January/February and Happy Valentines! Its all funny, for sure; for a while there, pregnancy tests were bought in the two and three packs! But, here I am, at the end of the birthday season and I find myself (relieved, glad its over? yes!) somewhat nostalgic. Mollie is in 5th grade and will begin her “years that really start to count academically” next year. In middle school, mom bringing cupcakes gets replaced with friends decorating lockers, Facebook accounts are started, homework is done in their room instead of at the kitchen table, all their friends finally have phones and the texting really starts. Parents are pushed into the background as we become supporting characters, and by supporting I mean we run committees, we do fund-raising cookouts and we go on over night field trips, but we don’t do tons of stuff in the school.
Let me say right off the bat that I wholly support this. 5th-6th grade and up is when kids learn best how to manage their time, make the most of their five minutes at the end or beginning of class, on the bus, or during their extension periods. I have always tried to tell mine that five or ten minutes here and there throughout the day add up to math homework getting done. And when the math homework, or social studies or science (or all of it) is done by the time they get home, that’s more time doing what they want to do. On the whole, my kids have taken to this with extreme enthusiasm. I almost never have to bug them about homework or studying or anything. I think this is partly because they are so busy with swimming or teaching or whatever it is that they have going on, that their free time is precious to them and they want their responsibilities lessened. Time to do nothing but sit on the couch and veg? Yes, thank you and another serving of that please.
After this school year, I will only have three children left that will need “cupcake head counts” and really, since Ben is a summer boy, only two. It is all kinds of wonderful and all kinds of sad at the same time. Gone are the days when Emma, Abby and Mollie were my elementary kids and darn if I wasn’t at that school with some kind of treat almost every other day. For that matter though, gone are the days of replacing lost pacifiers with new ones (Mary is down to one), gone are the days of buying new sippy cups (in fact, I’m just about ready to chuck all the ones I have – they are all so incomplete, I probably only have two that actually work), and I am nervous for the day that a new American Girl doll won’t be on the Christmas list.
Wow, things really are shifting.
Overall though? I’m sort of ready for it. It’s still fun in the elementary school because I like to think most of us parents have now settled into a routine of sorts, but I’ve long since given up getting excited about making something with a wow-factor for the preschool parties. In fact, the year that they asked me to bring “dressing” to the Thanksgiving feast and I made a French Vinaigrette and was frowned at, I decided to focus my considerable culinary efforts to my own family’s needs. That sounds rather mean, I know and I’m sorry. But I learned right then that those people were taking things just a tiny bit to seriously for a four-year old’s preschool. And in my defense, my mother, having grown up in Washington DC never made “dressing” – we always called it “stuffing.” So whatever, maybe I’m just old. There is a season for everything and it is time for me to pass the baton to the younger parents. I do this willingly and happily.
In the meantime though, I will continue to make the cupcakes when needed, knowing full well that Lucy could be making her own child’s cupcakes when Mary is in the fifth grade. Let’s hope she calls for advice.