Saturday, April 2, 2011

Growing Pains

Today my oldest son S.E. made his first meal: toasted bagel with butter and milk. He did this all by himself. I know many of you have kids younger and have been making meals by themselves by age six. Part of why I didn't have S.E. do this before were 1) I was always there to meet his dietary needs 2) I just didn't think he was ready. I was thinking last night about when I was in about eight years old and stayed home all day with my three younger siblings (youngest being almost eight years younger than myself). I was the second child of five living siblings. My mom kept having kids until she got a boy. My older sister was there to cook and between the two of us, we helped my parents take care of the younger kids while they worked hard to earn what amounted to very little in order to provide for a family of seven back in the early eighties. I remember being a cautious kid not taking off to play if I had to watch my siblings (which was pretty much all the time). I remember not standing on a chair to wash dishes. I remember eating a lot of top ramen and Kix cereal. I remember my baby brother crying and inconsolable unless I wore a shirt that smelled like my mom for him to sleep. I remember being in the blueberry fields picking berries alongside my parents and helping them keep the three younger kids occupied in the hot August days. There was no jogging stroller to push my brother around-it was my hips. My role as caretaker to my siblings went deep and long. I remember turning eighteen and thinking "I can't leave to go to school until my younger siblings graduate from high school". I did this because my parents were trying to provide for the family and didn't understand homework and afterschool activities. Once my brother graduated from high school, I went off across the state to study at a university. I struggle between wanting my boys to be independent, but I also want them to know I will take care of them. Feeding them is a huge part of my caretaking. He is ready. He was so proud of his meal and after it was all done, I see a look of accomplishment and satifaction.

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