Look, it’s going to happen. It’s best we prepare together. If all the wizened grandmas we run into at the store are any indication (and I think they are), this is going to happen sooner than we like. It goes so fast, they say as we remind our toddler for the 15th time not to pick their nose. Ugh, but yes, I’m sure she is right. Now that the child has pulled something out of their nose, it does seem like it happened too fast. I don’t have a tissue and am utterly unprepared for the treasure. Is that booger an allegory for our children growing up? Likely it is not. I can’t even make that sort of stretch.
From my own experience, this outgrowing you thing is going to start to happen right around the time your kid starts developing a great personality. All that work you put into shaping that winning personality? It’s going to be handed over on a silver platter to his or her Johnny-come-lately “friend.”
You’ll know when the personality is starting to take off because they stop parroting you all the time. That isn’t to say that parroting you wasn’t rife with great material. (Let’s be honest; we’ve seen the meme “97 percent of their awesomeness came from you.”)
But never mind that. This is a list of the subtle changes to look out for when your child starts to get a little too big for their britches. And by “too big for the their britches,” I mean ready to cut the cord, too cool for school, free falling, spreading their wings to fly or opening milk cartons on their own.
1. How old do you think I am?
We have all lived the cuteness that is asking your child how old they think you are. You know they are ready for a little more space when you ask them and you are met with an answer that is a little too real. They no longer give cutesy answers like 1,000 years old or 14. Instead, they give your real age. In worst-case scenarios, they give an age younger than your age and wrinkle their nose at the idea that someone could live long enough to reach that age. When this happens, you understand they have reached the time of life when they need to back away. They need to find friends their own age who they can’t insult in such a manner.
2. Where you at?
When your kids ask you where you are going, they no longer try to convince you to take them with. They start to ask in order to figure out how much time they will have to be away from you (Ugh, quit cramping their style.) Their questions even have a twinge of dubiousness in them. Maybe it’s your imagination, but are they questioning that anyone wants to spend time with you on purpose? Not cool kids, not cool. Your mom happens to be the life of the PTA party! Ain’t no party like a PTA party, ‘cause a PTA party don’t stop!
3. Did you get the memo?
When you dress sort of alike and announce, “Twinsies,” it no longer results in a high-five and a smile. It now evokes an immediate retreat. The next time you see them, they will have a different outfit on. Likely, they even changed their socks just in case. Little do they know you wear your Christmas socks all year round. What they had thought to be a brilliant reflection of their individuality and nonconforming to norms has placed them right back in Twin Town. Population: 2. Now that you have gotten wise, you will not announce it. You will hold this close to your heart and cherish it.
4. Hearing it through the grapevine
They start spilling their secrets to the younger sibling instead of you. Granted, you still hear the secrets because younger sisters and brothers are never to be trusted. Still, it hurts to be relegated to a secondhand keeper of secrets. A voyeur into the world you helped create. There, there. Here is my hanky (I learned to carry it after the Granny Store Incident of 2016.) Keep it as long as you need. It’s not new. It’s seen some things. As far as hearing the secrets, try not to worry. You will be first again in time.
5. Hands off the merchandise
They don’t want you to walk them up to school or really walk with them at all anymore. Did you try all year to get him/her to go onto the playground or into the classroom all by him-/herself so you didn’t have to leave the car? Yes. Does it still make you tear up every morning as he/she trucks up there confidently, bag slung over one shoulder like a “cool kid”? You don’t have to answer that, and you still have the hanky if you need it again.
Parenthood: It’s like winning while you are losing.