The Kid turned seven on the 10th. On one hand, things seem to go so quickly. He is seven already. Seven. In another seven years he'll be starting high school. The train table is gone, a desk is in it's place. He does sleepovers. And multiplication. He voices his opinions and independence more regularly these days.
But on the other hand, seven doesn't seem so surprising. He's been around along time, after all. Sometimes I barely remember life before The Kid. So, what actually seems more surprising to me is how my friends' kids are growing up. I have two friends whose children are turning ten this year. TEN. Double digits. I can remember when they were both still in preschool. When their parents were making decisions about kindergarten. When they were just beginning to do the same amazing things my kid is doing now.
The stakes of parenting, I've realized, are rising with each passing year. When The Kid and his friends were babies, I remember a friend-only half-jokingly- make the comment that at the end of the day, if her daughter was still alive, she felt like she'd done her job as a mother that day. Of course, any day that you can tuck your child in to bed at the end of it is always a good one. But as they get older you start to think about the kind of person they are becoming and the kind of example you're setting.
When it's all said and done, I want to raise a son who has *loads* of common sense, who is a productive member of his community, and who is kind and respectful but can still stand up for himself. I want him to have good people in his life who treat him well- and the awareness to recognize the people who don't. And, of course, I want him to be happy. But also with the knowledge that, a day without happiness is not the end of the world. That we all have bad days, weeks, months, and unfortunately, sometimes years. But that through all of it, you can still come out on the other side, and things can get better. That there are times when you'll just have to put more effort into it.
The Kid's birthday is a good time to reflect on all of this. I also like that his birthday is in January. Of course, it extends our holidays by a couple of weeks. But when the dust settles it is the beginning of a new year, and a new year in his life too. The questions of how to help your child grow into a good person, how to get across some of these very grown up ideas, they never stop. It is ongoing. What I love about it- reflecting on these questions for our children's sake- is that it helps us to grow as people too.