A neighbor used to tell me when my daughter was a toddler and my son a newborn, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” And I’d think darkly, “You’ve forgotten what it’s like to be woken up three times a night to search for an MIA pacifier.” But now that my babies are both well on their way to becoming full-fledged kids, I’ve been noticing there are definitely some things that used to drive me crazy that I no longer feel are such a big deal – that I actually miss and look back on fondly, even. Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome. Whatever the case, here are six annoying things that you might find yourself missing about your own kids when they’re older.
1. How they follow you everywhere, including the bathroom.
Every mom has had the experience of sitting on the toilet, trying to do her business with a squalling baby in her lap or a needy toddler desperately wrapped around her ankles. Oh, not you? Well, aren’t you grand. I’ve definitely had these moments and would think, “No one ever told me that having kids means never being able to pee in peace again.” It turns out I was wrong, though. The time has come where I can once again shut the bathroom door and do my business all by myself. And you know what? Sometimes it feels a bit lonely in the bathroom.
2. How they always end up in your bed.
Like clockwork, my son used to wake at the crack of dawn, stumble into our room, and climb into our bed, wedging himself between my husband and me. I’d have to sleep facing away from him so that he couldn’t accidentally head-butt me in the nose (which has happened), and he’d spoon me from behind, his arm in a casual but efficient chokehold around my neck. He’d continue to snooze for an hour or so as I lay as still as possible to keep from disturbing him. Yes, it was as uncomfortable as it sounds. Nowadays he’s pretty good about staying in his own room and our bed is largely kid-free, but I kind of miss having his small, warm body snuggled up possessively against mine. Insert your own Oedipal joke here.
3. How they can’t stand to be with anyone but you.
Both my kids, but my daughter in particular, used to hate being apart from me for even a second. (Their dad would suffice, but I was definitely No.1.) Once, when my daughter was a toddler, we dropped her off for the day at my mother-in-law’s, where she proceeded to cry for hours, until she fell asleep, and then woke up and started crying again. She spent the entire day crying for me. Now she’s 6 and way too busy with school and play dates to hang out with mommy. She counts down the weekend the way most people count down weekdays because she can’t wait to see her teacher again. I love that she’s so independent but also feel kind of sorry for myself. Guess it’s always easier to be the dumper than the dumpee.
4. How they are always asking questions.
“Does poop taste like chocolate?” “How come I can’t marry my brother?” “Why does Santa have the same wrapping paper as us?” These are just some of the gems that my children used to spout when they were young. They asked questions so often that eventually I stopped answering them earnestly, resorting to the ever useful, “What do you think?” Now that they’re older, though, their questions have become decidedly less whimsical. It’s more: “Why do I have to?” “How much longer?” and “What are we having for dinner?” (followed by an aggrieved, “Not again!”). Yup, I definitely miss the small-kid questions, even the painfully memorable “Is that a baby in your tummy?” (It was not.)
5. How their huge toys take up so much room in the house.
It’s true: Baby and toddler toys are garishly colored and occupy way too much space. Navigating my living room every day was like running an obstacle course. But the smaller toys of older children are not necessarily better. Legos, for example, have the annoying habit of scattering all over your house, ending up in odd places like the bathtub or the pet food bowl. The absolute worst place for them to be, however, is under your foot. Let me tell you, the pain of stepping on a Lego brick at just the right angle makes childbirth feel like a day at the spa. That kind of stuff didn’t happen when my house was filled with ExerSaucers and plastic kitchens.
6. How you need to help them wipe their butt.
I know you’re dubious about this one, but hear me out. My son used to thank me and tell me he loved me whenever I wiped his butt. It was the sweetest thing – it was like he knew that only a parent would do this free of charge, day in and day out, without complaint. My daughter never went so far as to thank me, but the way she’d grab onto my neck and hug me tight while I did the deed was thanks enough. It’s a form of bonding like no other, which is precisely why I’m kind of sad that it’s not necessary anymore. I’m sure you feel the same way, too … No? Just me? OK, fair enough. There’s something wrong with me, I know. Definitely Stockholm syndrome.
So I hate to sound like my neighbor, but guess what? She was right. Your small-kid problems are small. And the realization that you might even miss them a little will hit you one day soon, when you’re sitting on the toilet all by yourself, wondering why it’s so quiet in the bathroom.