Every once in awhile, I long for the days when my kids were tiny, cuddly babies. And then I remember that I can leave my house with my kids alone and the oldest in charge, and be reasonably sure the house will be standing and all kids will be alive when I return. And I don’t mean just, “I’m running to the store for five minutes” alone. I mean, “we’re leaving you in charge of your two brothers, two of our friends’ kids, and going to a bar. See you in a couple of hours,” alone.
I think every parent has a moment when they realize their kids are old enough to be truly helpful; mine was when Owen first carried a 50-lb bag of chicken food for me. I have long since accepted that many of my technological difficulties can be dealt with by my thirteen-year-old, though from time to time, I have to explain to him that I am not completely inept when it comes to my iPhone. Owen is the person that starts fires in the wood stove for me in the afternoons when I am cold and Oliver is not home yet (I should point out that I am capable, but he is more interested). Owen turns on and sets up video games for his brothers (in this case, I am neither capable nor interested) and will frequently help them by making meals and snacks. I reluctantly have to admit that if I wanted to watch TV before 5pm, I might have to have Owen help me.
Not long ago, we were at a friend’s house renovating a bathroom and Owen was lugging everything outside while Oliver pulled it apart. Her kids are five and seven and she simply said, “I want an Owen.” My response was that she would have one in about five years. If you don’t feed them to lions, or sell them on eBay, which was always my threat, you might just end up with kids that are competent and useful at some point.
In one moment, I lament the loss of them needing me and wanting to snuggle with me, and in the other, I am counting down the time until the oldest can drive (less than 2.5 years) and can cart his brothers around. I guess this is why some people keep having kids, and why I had my tubes tied.