My twin sons turned seven yesterday, and I was all choked up with emotion at the thought of them leaving their babyhood forever and growing up, up, up and away. I already miss the babies that they used to be, and wish they could have stayed three or four or five just a little bit longer.
Alfie, on the other hand, is not a baby kind of guy. He never really found anything cute about babies before he had kids; he made an exception when his own kids were born and turned into the mushiest of mushy-hearted, adoring dads, but once the kids passed the baby stage, he reverted to maintaining a polite interest in other people’s babies (softened, perhaps, because he gained some empathy for other dads by becoming a dad himself). He maintains that now that the kids are older, life is just getting better and better. They don’t need constant supervision, they can do things for themselves, they listen to reason, and they understand that their actions have consequences. We can even send them out into the cold night to our outdoor storage area to fetch extra rolls of toilet paper when we run out. It’s true we have a whole new set of challenges (sibling fights, too much video game time, doing chores), but on the whole I agree that having twin 7 year-olds is much less stressful on parents than having twin 2 year-olds.
But I think the real reason he’s delighted to have them firmly entrenched in the childhood stage is that now he can do so many cool things with them. All our kids are tall enough to ride most of the cool roller coasters in amusement parks. They can wait patiently in long lines without Alfie and me tap dancing and juggling in a desperate attempt to keep them from yelling and screaming. They have longer, stronger legs, so we can bike longer distances together. They give decent attempts at zero spills and good table manners so we can actually eat at restaurants with real silver, cloth napkins (that stay on laps!) and waiters that take your orders. They have longer attention spans, so they actually sit through whole soccer games and motorcycle races, so Alfie actually has someone to watch with at home!
When 3Po and Jammy opened their birthday presents last night, Alfie couldn’t keep the smiles of delight off his own face. The boys received an assortment of Nerf shooters, a juggling kit, a stomp rocket, and two Paper Jamz guitars. Alfie lost no time in playing, uh, demonstrating to his sons how to use their new toys. The other night I caught him “testing” the remote control helicopters his sons received from their grandparents for Christmas. I suppose lying on a blanket and shaking a rattle just doesn’t compare to biking to the park and racing toy helicopters. It’s great (and somewhat amusing) to see Alfie enjoy playing with these toys — and it’s heartwarming to see him playing with his sons.
So when I remember my sweet little boys and feel sad that they’re growing up, all I have to do is remind myself that they still fight to snuggle with me at bedtime, proof positive that they’re still my sweet boys, just a little older. All I have to do is picture them laughing and smiling as we battle each other over a family game of Blokus to remind myself that we’re enjoying ourselves as a family, more than ever. I thoroughly enjoyed their babyhood, I think we made the most of it, and we’ve got thousands of photos to preserve the memories — so it’s time to move on. We’ve still got a few years of their childhood left, and I think Alfie’s right — the best is yet to come!