My goodness, all of a sudden I have a five-year-old. It really wasn’t a sudden event, whatsoever, and my goodness how long these days have been. But, in many ways the blur of having my firstborn go from wee squawking babe into a talkative little boy seems to have been a very fast progression. Certainly the past six months of living through the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed the speed, but no matter the constraints he and his sister – or should I say, especially his sister – are living through, they are still growing, developing, and learning how to navigate one heck of a challenging world.
The young years – I mean young in the sense of raising young children not in me being young, which I am very not – feel a bit like suffering whiplash and being stuck in an eddy. You’re moving so fast, and sometimes that movement is round and round. Yet five? Five is big. Five is kid.
I remember being five. Five is significant. And our son has let us know every day for the past six weeks that it is his fifth birthday soon. We have many different countdowns and sometimes he even likes to break the time into hours and not days. Who can blame him? Five is a major milestone. It also proves that he is much, much older than his baby sister and, even though he truly loves her, as the eldest he gleefully enjoys pointing out their age difference.
Raising children during a devastating public health crisis is not easy and is frankly terrifying, yet I’ve learned more about adaptability, creativity, and acceptance from my five-year-old and his baby sister than any other difficult life experience. Has there been moments of belly laughs, all-encompassing joy and wonder? Yes, I can say this. Has there also been hours of tears, tantrums, broken heirlooms, trips to emergency rooms (kids still do kid stuff like jump off cribs to show off, pandemic or not), arguments, and name calling? Oh, yes.
We’ve had many moments of fun and exploration and I’ve taken the lead from my children on this. Thanks to giant bottles of vinegar and all those old boxes of baking soda stranded in the fridge, I’ve set off more volcanoes to likely tie some sort of world record. Thanks to letting experiments run rampant I’ve also had to throw away many batches of cookies due to the addition of extra baking powder, salt, and even dish soap.
My five-year-old made me a mother, and that is one gift that can never be replicated. I can’t give him the usual sort of fanfare and party this year, but there will be cake and I’ll make sure my chemist-in-training doesn’t get ahold of any unauthorized ingredients.
A wise kid already, he told me that he doesn’t want anyone to get COVID and he’ll have a better party next year.
Thanks my sweet pea, my barley boy for being so thoughtful and kind during these bizarre times.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.
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