Sunday, August 24, 2014

Trading Places

When I was pregnant with my oldest child, I heard a lot of old wives’ tales about pregnancy, some of which I’d heard before and some of which were new to me. One of the weirdest ones, and one I hadn’t come across before, was the claim that if a woman develops acne during her pregnancy, she is carrying a girl, and the baby is “stealing her beauty.” There might not be much truth in that particular legend (I had great skin with both my pregnancies, which produced one boy and one girl – who are both, for the record, quite beautiful), but over the course of time, I have discovered that there are a lot of “exchanges” that go on when you have children.

For example, sleep. Babies sleep all the time. Parents get no sleep at all. There is a period of childhood when both children and parents go on to get reasonable amounts of sleep, but then along come the teen years and the parents once again get no sleep while the teens sleep till noon whenever possible. It’s as if the kids are “stealing” their parents’ sleep.

Or how about bodily functions? My children are reaching the age where they are learning to use the bathroom and to “hold it” until they can get to a toilet, while I am reaching the age where I pee whenever I sneeze, or cough, or laugh really hard.

And then there are all the aspects of learning. My children are developing an impressive vocabulary and learning lots of new words, while I am often stuttering and stammering in an attempt to find a word that I am certain I knew five minutes ago. Their ability to read is gaining ground every day, which is a good thing because I am finding that I can no longer read without taking off my glasses or holding the book at arms’ length, or both.

Speaking of glasses, I recently discovered that threading a needle is much more difficult than it used to be, so it’s pretty convenient that my children are developing their fine motor skills enough that by the time I can no longer do it at all, they’ll be able to do it for me.

I suspect they’ll also be doing lots of technological stuff for me in the near future, as well. They’re starting to learn how computers and phones and tablets and mp3 players and all kinds of new technologies work, just as I am beginning to be baffled by the newfangled inventions that came so naturally to me in the past.

I suppose it’s all a part of handing things over to the next generation. We, as parents, find it difficult to let go and allow our children to take charge, so humans are designed to begin to fail just as our children are coming into maturity. We have no choice but to allow the next generation to step in and use their new-found skills to replace the skills we are slowly but inexorably losing.

I know that there are many years before my children have the skills, maturity, and experience to take their adult place in the world, and that there are many years before I lose enough skills that I truly need their assistance, but I hope that it’s a graceful transition. I hope that I can use the interim to let my children take baby steps to build their confidence in their abilities. I think I’ll start by making sure my kids know how to tie shoes. After all, my own feet seem to be getting further and further away.

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