We recently flew at night, well past the boys’ bedtimes. In hopes of aiding our big talk about it being a ‘sleeping plane’ we had both boys in their pajamas by the time we got to our gate.
With time to spare and energy to burn, we took turns running up and down the terminal hall with the boys.
You’d be amazed what a difference three years makes.
People were literally stopping to watch and smile at Parker stumble-run down the hallway, with no clear path or awareness for people in his way. In his little striped pajamas and mini red shoes, he’d wave to people along the way, and more than one person literally stopped walking to laugh and comment on his cuteness.
And then Gray would come running by in equally cute pajamas, smile and joy radiating out of his every pore, laughing along the way. And so many people were clearly annoyed.
That’s only a three year difference between smiling and waving vs sighing annoyingly and making an exaggerated effort to get by.
Though Gray did a much better job of staying out of their way, people would look intently at him and then glare at me, as if to say, ‘who is that mother letting her child run down the hall?’ These same people who, steps or moments before, were giggling at Parker running in circles.
To those people I have two things to say:
1) have you tried flying with kids? If so, you’d understand the need and desire to do everything possible to wear them out.
2) be fair. Your ageism is so noted, and though I understand why a mini-pajama-clad one year old who is still figuring out how to run may seem infinitely cuter than a gangly four-year-old, your frustration is unweighted and unfair.
It was a reminder for me about how the world sees and treats a ‘big kid’ in comparison to a ‘baby’, and how we do too.
The second Parker once born, my ‘baby’ Gray instantly seemed so old and mature. And from that moment we’ve expected such different things of him - heck, he’s a walking, talking, non-diaper wearing person who should certainly be able to take care of himself (and we can get frustrated when he doesn’t).
But he’s four. Four! That’s only four years with his feet on this ground to learn about life, and perhaps sometimes we, as his parents and general passersby, expect too much from this little person.
Yes it’s fantastic that he can dress himself and brush his teeth, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like or need some help sometimes. He’s F.O.U.R.
So to parents everywhere and random airport and life strangers we run by, I ask you this. Look for the unadulterated joy, cuteness and naïveté in all kids, not just the tiny squishy ones. And cut the others some slack.
The big ones might look big, but they’re still so very young in life.