Apparently ages 6-11 is considered middle childhood, and I must say I am a fan. I still have one tiny toe left in the preschool years with A who is 4, but he's a fun four...or maybe I'm finally a fun mom of a four-year-old...so things are fairly up at this household.
Actually, I think I've done a good job of being present in each stage and loving and appreciating what family means in each developmental moment. However, I do feel like I emerged from a cave a few years ago when no one still needed naps, diapers, meltdowns etc.
Yesterday was one of those perfect middle childhood days. We all woke happy. We piled into the minivan and took my oldest to piano. My younger two played with the piano teacher's grandkids in the backyard while I sipped coffee and visited with their mother. Then we were off for the berry field. The sun was out, so were all the mountains. My boys can now recognize the Three Sisters, Jefferson, and Mt. Hood. They always check on Mary's Peak, and they ask questions as we drive like, "Which way is Kansas?" I point and ask, "Is that East or West?" They answer, "East!" Then they discuss how long it will take to drive to New York, how long to fly, how long on a train etc. I love this growing awareness of the world around them. I take them on back roads from one little rural town to the next. I point out whose farm we are passing, and then a cheer goes up when I say, "There are grandpa's fields!" I point out Willard's farm. Silent awe. (Willard is the coolest guy they know because he's 99 and was a farmer and worked hard his whole life. I love that that equals cool to my boys.)
We then head into the Pharmacy for birthday gifts. B had brought his wallet which is full of his earnings over the last few months: ten dollars. We don't pay real good at our house. :)
After picking out a birthday present, he looked for something special for himself. At first he was sure he wanted the retractable pirate sword and practiced some convincing death scenes in the toy section. I continued my shopping as the boys looked over possible purchases. Then B rounds the corner with the look of pure love in his eyes: he's cuddling a small stuffed kitten, "This is what I want!" I couldn't have been happier. I love that there is still a little boy in him that wants a stuffed toy. All the sweetness in him came spilling out in that moment, and I loved him for it.
"I think that is a perfect choice!"
We headed home and he pondered what would become his new friend's name. He settled on Douglas.
Later that night we headed to a summer party at a local farm: movie night on the lawn complete with cotton candy and popcorn. The kids ran barefoot with their friends through the tall grasses that surrounded our outdoor theatre. Dusk came, and we all settled into our sleeping bags and lawn chairs. Wreck-It Ralph played. B laughed at all the jokes.
These are the memories I want my children to carry with them of this period called Middle Childhood. I know these are the ones I will never forget.