The divide between The Big Kids, as we call our older two, and our youngest, is bigger than ever.
Captain Jelly Belly is almost 14, in Grade 8, and I just registered him this week for grade 9 at a new school. HIGH SCHOOL. We’re all a little freaked out. Gal Smiley is 12 and a half, in Grade 7, and our tallest child now.
Although both of them still go to our local school, the same one they’ve been going to since JK, they now find their own way home, walking with a gaggle of friends. I see them when they come in and they maybe share a few words about their day before grabbing some cookies and rushing off to play video games. They’re not interested in playing with toys anymore; it’s all screens and talking with friends, maybe a movie or a TV show here and there, but only if it has lots of action, isn’t animated, and maybe throws in the F-bomb once or twice for thrills. They aren’t so much interested in being told what to do and they aren’t so much interested in showering and they aren’t so much interested in being told that no, we can’t watch Friends over dinner, it’s family time.
Our youngest, though, is only 9 and in Grade 4, and that’s still the kid zone. I still go to the school each day at pickup to get her. She runs out of the school and flings herself into my arms, bubbling over with things to tell me. She still wants help with her homework and takes my advice on where to glue the pictures for her project on Bears very seriously.
Each day after I pick her up from school we go to get the mail. We walk together hand in hand over to the super mailbox, making plans for the rest of the day. Just being together. Visiting. She gets to work the key and then hands me the mail, and then every day – always the same – she hands me my keys and tells me this exciting “backup set” of keys has also mysteriously arrived in our mailbox. Ha ha.
We are very much alike, her and I, in all the good ways and all the bad ways, too. But it means that when we walk and talk we have a natural rhythm, a back and forth where we both share something and learn something. I sometimes feel badly that my older two never really got alone time with me like Little Miss Sunshine does, even if it’s just for a half hour or so every weekday before the Big Kids arrive home from school.
But I also wouldn’t trade these moments for anything. Getting the mail is the highlight of my day.