Tonight while having dinner, I realized as my children are getting older they are starting to fight for individual attention. At one point I was sitting there and all I heard was noise. It was almost like the voice of the teacher in Charlie Brown. It was actually giving me anxiety. I was looking in all directions trying to keep up and really listen to what each of them were sharing about their day. I wanted to just curl up with a glass of wine to decompress from it all.
Every parent knows the struggle of making sure each child is treated like an individual and heard. With 3 children (or more) it becomes this huge fight at times. Ella can be in the middle of sharing the drama of 4th grade and in chimes Hunter about how his one classmate shot juice in his ear. Or I could be intently listening to Gracie ask 100 “But why?” questions and someone will interject with a laugh and then its starts. Gracie is in tears because she feels they are making fun of her. Hunter, my peacemaker, will try to be funny and end up annoying all of us (poor guy in house of girls). Ella, who is entering the hormonal stage, will either get a 4th grade attitude or stoop to a 5 yr. old’s level with some ridiculous reaction. What started out as a great family dinner becomes WWIII! I’m sitting there with a look of what the hell just happened and ready to down an entire bottle of wine.
I am realizing now that I can no longer have the same expectations or the same rules for all 3 of my children. I need to start giving Ella a little more freedom as well as a little more responsibility with the freedom. She is heading into the last part of 4th grade and deserves to be treated like a 4th grader in all areas. Hunter is going to be 8 in a month and he, also, deserves more freedom than his 5 yr. old sister. But Ella and Hunter need to realize that Gracie can’t be expected to have the same responsibilities or act the same way they do because she is only 5 (which they forget). And Gracie needs to accept that she is a big girl but still can’t do all the things the big kids do. This will play out very interesting.
I am going to start out small…baby steps. I think I need more time to adapt to this than they do! The first thing that I think I will change are bed times. Did you hear that sound? It was me crying! I like my time alone at night. The thought of giving that up makes me cringe. It may sound horrible but I am with them all the time, barely any breaks, I NEED it for my sanity. But I think I have it covered where it is a win-win for everyone and it won’t be so obvious to all parties involved. Everyone will still be sent to “bed” at the same time however Ella will be given her “extra time” in her room. The other 2 will have no idea (for the time being) and I will get my alone time. I think I can do this….baby steps.
The next step will be a little more harder to make happen. But it is a step that needs to happen and happen sooner than later. If I got anything else out of tonight’s dinner, it is the fact that I need to carve out one on one time with each of them. They need alone time with me and I need it with them. So I will sit on this for a few days and see how I am going to make this happen. For now, I am going to finish my well deserved glass of wine and enjoy my alone time.