Tuesday, March 18, 2014

5 ways to keep your baby from growing up

My baby turned five last November, and I really thought I was done being sad about it. I thought I had embraced the fun of painting toes on bathroom floors during big girl "spa days". I felt so accepting of her new role as "little mama", organizing pantry items and scolding boys for muddy shoes. I was so proud that I no longer choked on the words "She's five." when asked her age by a stranger.

But now she has a loose tooth (and she is unacceptably excited about it). The mama gloves are coming off. My baby's whole face is about to change and I may not make it through this.

Babies. Don't. Lose. Teeth.

I have devised a plan to slow the aging process. I realize she won't stay little forever, but I also refuse to remain powerless. Here are 5 ways I plan to keep her little for a little longer.

5. Deal gently with loose teeth. None of this "Wiggle it all day, and it will come out in no time!" advice will be coming from me. If she leaves it alone, it should take at least twice as long to fall out. I won't lie to her, of course. I'll just distract her with puzzles and a new pony when she starts yanking on her baby teeth.

4. Sew all her clothes by hand. My daughter is no longer wearing "toddler" sizes. Unfortunately, she wants to dress like a tween and can now fit into those kinds of clothes, too. Obviously, we will have to avoid the stores altogether. I will have to learn to make flouncy things and convince her to wear embroidered teddy bear dresses. Should be easy, right?

3. Do some good branding work on the term "my baby". Foolishly, I have encouraged her to be "big" and not to be a "baby". This kind of propaganda was super helpful with potty training, ending fussy fits, and kicking the sippy cup habit. But I see the error of my ways now. Time to remind her that "my baby" gets special presents, rides on shoulders at parks, and extra dessert. (Of course, babies in our house have never had these privileges before, but I have the power to make it happen. So it's happening.)

2. Discourage her rapidly accelerating progress at reading. While the boys do their schoolwork, I keep my daughter busy with workbooks and reading games. She is reading all kinds of words, and seems to have a natural knack for spelling. Clearly, I will need to intervene. From now on, she may only color Winnie the Pooh coloring pages and then take a three hour nap. If she objects, I will remind her that she's my baby (see #3).

1. Take P.A.R.T. as a parent to slow time down. P.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for Play, Adore, Read, and Talk. (Yes, I made this up.) I realize that time actually ticks on whether like it or not, and the best way to have more time with my daughter while she is little is to make the most of every moment. I need to Play princesses and UNO with her more. When I tuck her in bed I need to spend an extra five or ten minutes holding her little self in my arms and telling her how much I Adore her. In the middle of an ordinary Wednesday, I need to put my list of things-to-do aside and sit in a big chair with twenty books and Read until the stack is finished. When we drive here and there, when we eat dinner as a family, when she is sitting near me on the sofa, I need to Talk to her. The more I hear her heart's ponderings about unicorns and silly words, applesauce and swimming pools, loose teeth and sparkly shoes, the more I will love who she is, remember who she was, and be excited about who she is becoming.

Because at the end of the day, my baby is growing up and she is very excited about it. I need to admit the truth- that all this motherhood business is the most horrible, wonderful thing that ever happened to me. I positively cherish everything about it- even the wiggly teeth.

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