It seems to me that as parents we are constantly teetering between wanting our kids to grow up and trying, desperately, to keep them tiny. When really, what we should be doing is enjoying them exactly as they are.
There is a recent trend in parenting, a concerted effort to make our kids grow up--infant potty training, teach your baby to read, preschool for three-year-olds. We want them to walk sooner, talk earlier, read and write and balance the checkbook before they even start kindergarten.
At the same time, we want them to cuddle all day, fall asleep in our arms and remain innocent--so, we shield them from any danger that could present itself.
I try to imagine what kids were like 200 years ago. In a lot of ways, they were mature beyond their years. Responsibilities and expectations were given. Children helped more and worked harder. At the same time, I think they retained their childlike innocence a lot longer. When they weren't working, they were playing--really playing. Not watching t.v. No Angry Birds (though I'm certain there were activities involving birds and shooting--boys will be boys.) Just imaginative, active playing.
Now, it's naive to think that kids, even 200 years ago, didn't have struggles. There has always been gossip and bullying, lust and jealously but it has never been so easy do to these things and there has never been a means by which to indulge in these behaviors anonymously.
I worry about my kids--that they will learn things they should never learn, that they will act ways they should never act. It's terrifying. Sometimes I want to lock them away, throw away the t.v. and the computer and just let them be little for as long as I possibly can. But alas, as Abby has informed me numerous times, they have to grow up.
I want to do my best to enjoy my children exactly as they are. No more wishing away the baby days and then longing for them when they are past. And in enjoying them as they are, I can be that much more in tune with their needs--to protect them from things they should never see and to guide them through situations they must face.