Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Not Prepared for Parenting Older Kids... Or the Zombie Apocalypse

When you become a mom of older kids, like I am (mine are 13 and 10), and you see a mom with younger kids, I'm sure the same thing goes through all of our minds...

"Oh, thank goodness I survived that section of parenthood."
Now THAT's Being Prepared...
Pic Courtesy

No more diaper changes, no more wordless temper tantrums (now they are silent altogether, except for the sound of marching off and a bedroom door slamming), no more mandated nap times screwing up schedules, no more bottle feedings/stopping to breastfeed, nothing. Just older kids who can express their thoughts and feelings (somewhat) coherently, who you can tell to disappear if they are angering you, and who can wipe their own asses.

Bliss, right?

Yeah, not exactly.

Yesterday, we went on a field trip with the homeschooling group we are members of, to a waste water treatment facility. The tour was supposed to start at 10, but as this place was very difficult to find (everyone's GPS had us doing some crazy u-turns in subdivisions and crap) and somewhere around 50 of us total showed up, it took a while to get things rolling.

I *thought* this was the field trip that was supposed to last between an hour to an hour and a half. Come to find out (the hard way, yes), the timed one was not this particular field trip, but the one we have in 2 weeks. Not knowing this when we left the house, the kids asked if we should bring anything with us.

Why? We'll only be gone like an hour and a half max, we'll be home in time for lunch and to spend time with Hubby before he goes to work. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The guy heading the tour started his presentation (what? There's a presentation with this? Just thought
it was a tour...) around 10:30. Now, our homeschooling group includes kids ages 6 months up to high school age- huge variety. The guy giving the presentation was really enthusiastic about his job, and wanted to explain, in great detail (like, adult-level comprehension detail) exactly how the waste water was processed and treated through the facility.

I found it quite interesting. The 3 and 4 year olds in the room, not so much.

Over an hour this presentation continued. Younger kids were getting up, running around, playing with latex gloves, scribbling on the handouts- chaos at its best. All of the older kids just sat and tried to stay awake contained themselves.

In the back of my head, I'll admit it- I was giggling. Here were my older kids, sitting still (well, The Ginger has been known to have ants in his pants from time to time), listening (or pretending to listen), getting a little restless, but so were the adults, quite frankly. Gone were my days of running after a bored toddler, or trying to quiet a fussy baby. I just sat and smiled.

Please understand that I was not judging these other parents and their predicaments. I completely understood why the younger kids were acting the way they were, and they weren't bothering me in the least- they were kids, doing kid things, making the best of a 90 minute presentation that interested them none. My heart went out to these tiring moms, but it seriously made me thankful to have put those years of parenting behind me.

I was smiling on the inside, thinking I was on Easy Street with having older kids. If you think that's a little rude to say, don't worry; I got knocked off my inner-high horse soon enough.

Soon it was time for the outdoor tour of the facility to start. The tour guide said he'd cut the tour down to about 45 minutes (thanks?) because his presentation had run so long. So far, we'd been at the facility for 2 hours now. I texted Hubby and told him I'd just see him when he got off work that night, and told the kids to perk up and try and learn something. There, my parenting was done... right? That's what I have to do with older kids, right?
Yep, that's about right for Arizona...
Pic Courtesy

End of March in Arizona, around 12 noon, it's about 90 degrees outside. As we started walking the facility, I'm noticing the moms of the younger kids slapped hats on their children. Hmm... hats would have been good; hell, even sunglasses would have been a great thing for the kids to grab before we left the house. One mom commented that she was glad she put sunscreen on her little one before leaving the house.

Hmmm.... sunscreen.... Yep. That would have been good, too, especially considering I'm a pale ass white girl, I have a ginger for a son, and The Girl already had a mild sunburn from yard work this past weekend. Sunscreen would have been amazing...

20 minutes into the walk or so, a mom of a younger kid near me pulls out a granola bar for her kid. Yep, snacks. Snacks would have been good too, as it's approaching 12:30 and breakfast was over 4 hours ago for us. Why didn't I think of that?

Why? Because I'm a mom of older kids. Our days of carrying around diaper bags with everything needed for the apocalypse are long gone. I carry around a baby snatcher for a purse, but prior to leaving the house, my brain thought, "Hey- you're going to be walking around, so how about you empty out some of your purse so it's not so heavy?" THAT, I thought was a great idea. Not, grab some sunscreen, or get some snacks, just in case. Nope, those ideas didn't cross my mind.

Suddenly, I found myself a little envious of the moms with younger kids. They came prepared for this shit. Meanwhile, my kids were getting more scorched by the second, and our stomachs were eating through our backbones.

Me, On My High Horse
Pic Courtesy
Reality smacked me in the face, and down I came, tumbling off my high horse named Having Older Kids, that I thought was *so* amazing.

Now, I understand there are moms of younger kids who don't go everywhere with a Mary Poppins bag of wonder, and I understand there are moms of older kids who live by the motto of the Boy Scouts- Be Prepared. For the rest of us- moms like me, we ditch the apocalypse diaper bag as soon as we can, and the older our kids get, the less prepared we are for anything.

So, as a result of yesterday's ill-preparedness, I'm sporting a hell of a V-shaped sunburn on my chest (just HAD to wear the V-shaped t-shirt, didn't I?), the kids and I stopped at the first drugstore we could find on the way home and bought candy bars (amazingly healthy lunch appetizer, right?), and I've been immensely humbled.

Being a mom of older kids isn't "better" or "easier" than being a mom of younger kids. Each age group presents new obstacles and parenting lessons. I think the key is to carry with you what you've already learned in parenting, and use it when it comes time to tackle the new things.

Very important realization occurred for me yesterday, huh?

I also realized that I want to pack my purse with survival items, just in case. With my belief in the impending Zombie Apocalypse, I'm disappointed in myself for not being prepared already. I should have had a poncho, energy bars, sunglasses, and a machete in my purse, waiting to be used if needed.

Great- I'm not prepared for the curve balls of motherhood (or field trips that take longer than originally thought) OR for the Zombie Apocalypse. I just need to go hang out with the moms of younger kids if the Zombie Apocalypse starts- they'll have everything we need to survive...

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  1. You are an amazing Mom. I would've bailed about half way through the lecture portion. (50 people??? Yikes.)
    You've got this, Mama.

    1. Thanks, lol. I thought about it a few times, but I went on a field trip in like the 4th grade to a water treatment facility, and I still remember it. It was cool to me, to see the process. I also lived in a very small town at the time. Maybe my interests were affected by the fact there weren't a lot of options back then, lol.

  2. Lol I loved this...I guarantee you could live for weeks off the snacks in my car...and that's without pulling up the car seats. My van also has clothing, gallons of water, blankets, bug spray and sunscreen. In Wyoming you just never know what you will need. But, I have to say I can't wait to ditch the diaper bag!