Another glorious 6:30 AM Saturday wake-up from the kids prompted J. to ask bleary-eyed, “What age is it that the kids can wake up, go downstairs and get breakfast themselves?”
“Um. Ten?” I dunno.
Fear, regret and bewilderment spread across his face. “No…It’s gotta be sooner than that. Like 6, or 7. Right?!?
I have absolutely, positively no idea.
A few milestones I know: eating solid foods around 6 months-ish, starting walking around 12 month-ish, pooping in the potty around 2 years-ish. But let me tell you – Babycenter doesn’t have an email for when to expect independently dressing, feeding and entertaining themselves.
I thought about this again when the news reported that American Airlines was going to start charging a $150 fee for minors aged 12-14 flying by themselves. Apparently that fee is already incurred for parents of kids flying solo between the ages of 5-11. Now, come on, people. FIVE?!
I’m all for encouraging independence in kids, but letting a kindergartener fly by themselves across the country to see Grandma? That seems a bit much, right? I totally off base here? I mean, we force our 4-year-old to sit across the aisle from us when we travel as a family of four. So she is always the one sitting with the stranger, but at least I still have a visual on her.
Or is it a big secret that everyone is sending their kindergartners off for the summer, and sleeping in until 10AM?
So after wondering about this for a bit, I had my Ah-hah moment. A friend posted a question on Facebook: “Why is there no ‘What to Expect for age 4 or 7 or 10?”
Why doesn’t anyone tell you the right age to let your kids into a public bathroom by themselves? When should they be able to shower completely by themselves? Or the right age to talk to them about their private parts (or what to call their private parts)?
I mean GOODNESS as a mother of two preschoolers, I’ve got the baby stuff DOWN. Eat, Sleep and Cry. Got it. I need help with all of the rest of the stuff.
So here it is, my fellow parents (or future parents). The Bible of parenting books: What to Expect When you have a Kid who Talks Back. I need you – wise parents of older children – to help me fill in the blanks.
A few questions I’d like to include in the first printing of this book:
1) When my daughter turns to me on an airplane and tries to kiss me like the prince kisses Cinderella – what do I say? Acceptable or no?
2) When I see a sign in the bathroom saying children of the opposite sex older than the age of 5 not permitted in the bathroom, do I REALLY not send my daughter into the bathroom with my husband? Or is this a suggestion?
3) And, along those same lines, at Costco, can I just stand outside the bathroom (not the stall) and let my 4-year-old go to the bathroom by herself? I mean, I usually have another toddler and a giant tub of mayo waiting.
4) At what age will my child stop thinking snacks are appropriate replacements for meals? And when can I stop carrying around with me half the contents of my pantry – just in case?
And of course…
5) At what age can my lovely child get up, get dressed, and go get their own breakfast?
So, parents of babies and preschoolers – any questions you would like added to the first edition? And please, if you have older children, impart your wisdom to those of us navigating the muddy waters of parenting kids who can talk back.