A recent survey showed that age 5 is the absolutely most lovable age for a kid to be. I know, I know, every age is loveable, and I don’t want any of them to end. But 5 is particularly wonderful, so with a little help from my original moms’ group, I set out to try to define exactly what makes this age the sweetest—I mean, reasons beyond “so cute.” Below, 17 reasons why age five is the best age yet.
1. Five is when kids take genuine pride in being helpful. They haven’t yet learned that chores are, well, a chore. They think it’s fun to help sweep or wipe down the windowsills. And, as my friend notes, they can finally do the things they’ve wanted to do for years but without making a mess, like getting their own cup of water or spreading jam on bread. It’s a perfect time to introduce basic chores and have them feel like part of a team.
2. You can have real conversations, so long as you enjoy a kind of Lewis Carroll-esque dialogue. The talks I have with my 5-year-old take the general shape of a normal conversation, but then sometimes veer off in directions that make me feel like I did when I smoked pot. I think, “Who’s the one acting weird here? Me or that guy who keeps referencing his pet Allosaurus?”
3. They can now reliably hand you things when you’re up a ladder, like light bulbs, rather than running away with them and stuffing them in the toilet tank, forcing you to fall off the ladder in a rage and break your collarbone.
4. When they say you look pretty, it’s based on a slightly larger world view.
5. They have enough body awareness to tell you when they’re about to fart in the tub.
6. Their senses of humor are better developed in general. Now this probably means potty jokes, sure. But you have to start somewhere, and I’m not above a good poop joke.
7. They can wipe their own butts, or are pretty close to it. They’ll make a good-faith effort, which may mean merely waving the TP near their heinies, but they’re trying anyway.
8. They can rat out younger siblings who are quietly taking their diapers off in the crib, saving mommy a nasty surprise.
9. They have longer attention spans, and for projects that might actually interest you too, unlike the eating-paper stage or the dumping-water-out-of-the-sink stage.
10. You’re past all the “big,” anxiety-inducing milestones, and the ones ahead are the “fun” milestones, like learning to read.
11. The beginning-to-read stage is charming. You realize you are about to graduate from stultifying stories about trains and cars and maybe someday soon can introduce Little House and The Great Brain.
12. They don’t wake quite as early as they used to. I mean, 6 a.m. is still brutal, but it’s better than the toddler years of up-for-the-day at 4:41 a.m.
13. Car and plane rides are a lot easier. They can be entertained, unlike an 18-month-old toddler, who wants only to ramble and shriek.
14. Drop-off birthday parties are nigh. A friend of mine said, “If you ever want to be immortal, go to a 3-year-old’s birthday party. Time stops.”
15. They are philosophers. As my friend says, “They’re more wise than the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron and Deepak Chopra combined—my son said ‘I’ll be whatever age the world needs me to be.'”
16. They can entertain themselves for a reasonable stretch. After years of “Mommy, play with me,” my 5-year-old can play with his toys for long enough to at least let me throw together a meal. Now, his 2-year-old brother, on the other hand…
17. Okay, fine. They are SO CUTE.