8, 10 + 11 years old!

With birthday season behind us for all of our kids (they're born in August, September, and October), and Christmas past, the dust settles. I'm finding myself reflective on the new season upon us. A new year and bonafide big kids. 

Tim Keller refers to the "front 9" and the "back 9" of parenting, and I find that age in particular is the perfect place to draw a line in the sand, because it's around then that you find yourself truly out of the stage of small children, small problems and enter into the independent big kids stage. Even though Chloe is 8 (almost 8.5 as she tells me regularly!), I find us in this new stage since the youngest often trails the older kids more closely. 

Parenting tweens is new to us and we're learning as we go. I'm thankful for the parenting resources we have and still find them tremendously helpful as I navigate this new stage, but there are some things you just can't prepare for because every kid is so different! I'm finding our kids are much more independent and capable than ever, doing things like biking to school, household chores, and making their own plans with their friends. Yet they're also still so young, wanting cuddles and lots of time with mom and dad (thank you, Lord!) Parenting tweens is really halfway to adulthood in many ways. That gradual letting go of our kids, where we trust them more and more and give greater responsibilities, yet still keep them close, with firm boundaries and limits (i.e. no social media, limited screen time, etc.)

Chloe still loves art and cats but she's also growing in her love of reading and specific things like Japanese mangas and Jane Austen. She'll probably always feel like my baby, but she's growing up so much. When I look at pictures and videos from last year, she seems so incredibly young. her speech and interests and personality have all developed so much!

Oli is in his final year of homeschooling and such a wiz kid. We struggle to keep up with his insatiable desire to learn and create, which is equal parts wonderful and burdensome. He's playing cosom hockey and tennis and following MLS soccer, but also really creative. He and Chloe are writing a comic book together and he's been carving things from wood blocks or soap bars. 

Parenting Lily this past year has felt like parenting several girls because she's gone through so many different phases of maturity! First biking to school on her own, then taking public transit on her own, taking her faith more seriously and independently, and handling virtual learning almost single handedly. We really trust her and rely on her more and more and it's a beautiful thing! Still loves reading and always down for a *long* conversation :)

I'm learning so much about myself too in this stage with big kids. My shortcomings and sins loom large as I see them inheriting and copying me for good and for ill. It's becoming more the season of guidelines and wisdom and less of control and rules, though there are still rules, don't worry! Gradually letting go and not trying to cling to them whilst still protecting then and letting their final years of childhood remain unfettered is the call of this season. May we be faithful in it.

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