Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Tales in Parenting

Yesterday was Drew’s 48th birthday, but maybe as exciting: it was Jackson’s half birthday and he is now 6-1/2. Parenting a 6-1/2-year-old is way different than parenting a 2-1/2-year-old, which might not come as a big surprise. There are little things about this age that I wasn’t expecting, not because they’re surprising but because, like a lot of parenting, they’re experiences you don’t think about until you have to or until they happen. Some recent experiences that highlight how grown-up 6-1/2 is these days:

* Jackson is super easy to travel with now. We flew to Missouri and back last week, and aside from a little anxiety about carsickness to and from the airport, which was alleviated with Dramamine, I didn’t have to worry about Jackson at all. He put his headphones on and rocked out to the travel playlists Drew created for him (with songs mostly from Annie, Moana, and The Wizard of Oz), with nary a complaint or demand about anything.

* It’s really, really, REALLY important to Jackson that he order for himself at a restaurant. Like, don’t even TRY to order for him or you will pay.

* Speaking of paying, Jackson wants to do a lot of it himself. He has a piggy bank where, for his whole life, he’s kept all the cash he gets in greeting cards, the money he collects from the tooth fairy, and his “allowance,” which is sporadic as it is 100% related to chores that he more often than not neglects. The other day he counted and he had quite a bit of money saved up, and so now he insists on using it to buy gifts for friends’ birthdays, gifts for family, and if he had his way (which he won’t): his very own phone.

* He’s determined to get a phone, you see, and he’s trying to convince us to let him have one by inventing apps. He figures he can make money to pay his phone bill by selling apps (since we explained that buying the phone is only part of the expense of having one that is usable), and if he is successful in creating and selling apps, then we have to let him have a phone because an app inventor really, really needs a phone, duh.

* He is at the age now that he is aware of social media — especially my presence on social media and, by extent, his own presence on social media. He has very strong opinions about whether and how he should be included in my social media, which changes almost weekly, and he wants very, very much to have his own social media accounts and a digital camera from which he can upload images and videos, etc.

Of course, he’s too young and that’s that, except it won’t be long before he isn’t too young, or before friends and kids at school have phones and social media accounts and all that, and so we’ve started thinking about what that means as parents a little — ok, a lot — sooner than I thought we would be thinking about this stuff. Anyone with slightly older kids, any advice for navigating these tricky topics?

If you’re a parent, what are some of the recent ways you’ve noticed your kids growing older?

20 comments… add one
  • Avatar photo

    Lianne April 10, 2018, 3:22 pm

    The social media thing gives me such anxiety. My husband isn’t on it at all. I am on instagram (which I love) and facebook (which I tolerate because it provides me a connection to several moms’ groups I’ve joined since having my son two years ago). I used to post pics of my son on instagram, but my husband became uncomfortable with it and I wasn’t dying on the cross just to brag and show off my adorable baby! Since then, I’ve come to agree that it’s his image and until he has the ability to tell me how he feels about being on social media, I should assume he doesn’t want to be there. You’ve brought up a good point about going one step further and how to handle when THEY want their own online persona. With bullying and predators out there, it just makes me want to put him in a bubble! But it’s something I will have to deal with someday, too, so I’m interested in what others say.

    With regard to recent ways I’ve noticed him growing older – at 22 months, he’s putting words together to form phrases, doing more for himself (like taking off his coat and shoes), is VERY opinionated, and really watches and mimics everything. It’s so much fun watching him grow. I can’t want to see him become a big brother any day now!

    Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    Guy Friday April 10, 2018, 4:21 pm

    So, I don’t have kids of my own, but if I may take a swing at the social media question: I think it’s less an “age” thing than a “maturity” thing, since I have a 14 year old cousin who has a well cultivated Facebook feed (well, for a 14 year old, but nothing sketchy or risque on it is what I mean) and a 22 year old ex-step-sister who basically vomits media and offensive crap on there and then wonders why she can’t get a job.

    What I’ve done with friends/family/clients is sat them down with me and shown them exactly how much information I can deduce from them based on not accessing anything not publicly available. It’s easy for them to say “Oh, I won’t post where I’m going to school”, but it blows their mind when I can tell them who their teacher is because of the selfie they’re tagged in by their friend when they’re standing in front of their classroom door, for example. And then I remind them that there’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing part of yourself online, but that you just need to be aware of who knows what and how.

    Reply Link
    • Ange April 10, 2018, 6:41 pm

      I remember once in one of my local question and answer groups a mum posted that she didn’t like her local daycare having personal information (that they obviously NEED because they have your bloody kids) and an app. She was worried about privacy, naturally. I took a one minute look at her profile and told her her husband’s name, where he worked, which daycare her kids go to, their names, what kind of car they drive (and I could have told her the licence plate number) and a rough idea of the street they live in. I don’t make a habit of being a creeper but jesus woman the problem doesn’t start with the daycare. In return she blocked me but eh, I hope I made my point.

      Reply Link
  • Amy April 10, 2018, 4:27 pm

    I’m not quite a parent yet but will be in a few short (I hope) weeks. In the meantime, I use this site as an educator: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ There is some great information for teachers and students and it sounds like the information for parents is also quite good.

    Reply Link
  • Sue Jones April 10, 2018, 5:53 pm

    My son is 14! He is 5’10” and towers over me. He does advanced math in high school. His voice has changed. He shaves. There s a GIRL he has been “hanging out” with…. This summer he takes Driver’s Ed! He used to want to do what I asked of him, but now I am learning to let him make decisions and suffer the consequences. We have already started looking at colleges. This summer he goes away to a camp for 6 weeks. It changes so quickly! It is a little early to be looking at colleges but in 3 years he will be getting ready to graduate and go to college! It all goes by so fast. I first got on FB when he was in kindergarten so my friends have watched him grow up. Bittersweet.

    Reply Link
  • redhead April 10, 2018, 7:02 pm

    My step kids are in college now, but back when they were younger, we let them have iPod touch around age 11-12ish. The touch is nice because they can text if they have wifi, but it’s not quite as much to deal with as a phone. It’s also less expensive if they lose it. My step daughter got her first phone at age 14 or so, and it was a cheap smart phone. She wasn’t a huge fan of it, since it wasn’t a cool brand, but she wasn’t quite mature enough to take care of a nicer phone, so it worked. She purchased her own (older model) iPhone age 16 or so, and we put her on our family plan. Having some buy in on their part does help them remember to take care of it.

    Reply Link
  • Emily April 11, 2018, 8:26 am

    I think the iPod Touch is a great idea. It has apps and music but it’s not a phone and you could also set rules for which apps and you have to be able to access it etc etc. I feel like I know a few parents who did this around age 10. Which seems far off but it’s crazy to me to think of younger kids having them BUT I don’t also have to live with someone obsessed with getting one. ?

    Reply Link
    • Bubbles April 11, 2018, 12:54 pm

      The iPod Touch is great. My seven year old granddaughter B was given an old one from her parents. My son set up certain apps she can use, uploaded a playlist for her and set up an icloud account for her, controlled through my son and DIL and so whenever she’s allowed to have it (usually after homework and chores and only for one hour), my granddaughter will text us (her g-ma and papa) and chat, ask how our day went, can she have a sleep over soon, etc. It’s very cute actually and I look forward to chatting with her about her day. Also if my DIL texts me saying B didn’t do X, Y or Z, then when I ask her about her day, I can quiz her about X, Y or Z and I can gently remind her about her tasks. It takes a village!

      Reply Link
  • findingtheearth April 11, 2018, 5:47 pm

    My daughter is 5 1/2. She is outgrowing daycare and everyday asks how much longer until she is in Kindergarten. She adores preschool, so I am hoping she does well with the transition this fall into Kindergarten. She rarely naps and is slowly starting to come up with her own jokes (most of the center around farts 😉 ) But it’s so different from when she was little. She has opinions and ideas and I try really hard to let her share her thoughts and ideas.

    Reply Link
    • MissD April 11, 2018, 6:26 pm

      What age does kindergarten start??? She’s 5 1/2?? Is this an american thing?? I’m just shocked because here (in Ontario) full-day kindergarten starts at age 4. There’s junior, then senior kindergarten, and grade 1 starts at age 6.

      What is the difference between preschool and kindergarten? Is preschool kind of just like daycare?

      Reply Link
      • MissD April 11, 2018, 6:40 pm

        Ps sorry if that came across as condescending I was just really surprised!

      • Kate April 11, 2018, 6:42 pm

        A lot of public schools start at Kindergarten, which is age 5. Parents don’t have to pay for super expensive day care / preschool anymore when the kid is old enough for Kindergarten.

        Her kid would have turned 5 in November, so she’d have been too young to start Kindergarten in September.

      • Avatar photo

        Dear Wendy April 11, 2018, 7:30 pm

        NYC is a bit of an outlier because the cut-off for grades is december 31, and we have universal pre-k, which starts the year a child turns 4. Some districts here even have “3-k,” which is publicly-funded preschool, and that would start the year a child turns 3, with about a quarter of students being 2 1/2 when they start all-day public school. I think it’s pretty awesome (especially for lower income, full-time working parents who really struggle to pay for daycare).

      • Kate April 11, 2018, 6:43 pm

        Sorry, October, but the cutoff is probably that they have to be 5 in Sept.

      • MissD April 11, 2018, 7:46 pm

        Oh weird! Here the cut off is definitely December 31st, so a child turning 4 in October, November or December would still go into Senior Kindergarten in September of the year they turn 4.

        So often I guess I just assume that Canada and the US are the same in most ways, but once in a while I get a little shock lol.

      • anonymousse April 11, 2018, 9:09 pm

        There were universal pre-K programs where we just moved from (WA) and I don’t think they have them here (PA.) My son is not yet 4, but he’s very ready. Preschool focuses more on early education than maybe daycare does? Some daycares do, as well. Preschool has more of a kindy environment.

        Kids take naps after 3 years?? My son stopped taking naps at 1 1/2 and my two year old daughter only takes them the few times a week I can make it happen. ?? I however, could use a nap twice a day.

      • anonymousse April 11, 2018, 9:12 pm

        Also, I have heard that a lot of schools have started asking parents to hold back their children a year, so they are more confident going into kindergarten…I’m not sure if that’s true or not.
        On the one hand, I want to have my kids to have a childhood and I hope kindergarten isn’t the new first grade, etc that some parents have told me it is…but in the other hand, my son is a giant tall three year old. He wears clothes for six year olds already. So I feel like I absolutely could not hold him back, or he’d be the older, giant kid in class his whole life.

      • Avatar photo

        Dear Wendy April 12, 2018, 6:12 am

        Kindergarten is definitely the new first grade. At least hear in NYC, and I’ve heard its the same elsewhere in the country, there’s very little play in kindergarten anymore and kids are expected to learn to read and write.

      • Kate April 12, 2018, 4:54 am

        @MissD, I feel like Canada and the US are pretty different. Even more than a decade ago when I had a long-distance Canadian guy I was seeing, but now even more so.

      • anonymousse April 12, 2018, 7:46 am

        I don’t know how I feel about that. It seems so sad that kids need to get in line at 5, you know? The school we would be going to here is a full day kindergarten.
        But on the other hand, my boy is writing and trying to read. I think he’d love school, even now.

        It’s hard being a parent, I just want them to stay young and have a stress free childhood. ?


Leave a Comment