Sunday, June 28, 2009

Leaving Little Behind

Sweetheart is 9 years old. Actually, she is 9 1/2. She'll be 10 in August and will start 4th grade this year.

She isn't exactly little anymore.

She isn't exactly big yet.

She's very in the middle.

I know other 9 year olds who seem very mature and grown up compared to her. She's a "young 9" if that makes sense. Part of the reason she seems younger sometimes is her birth order. When she was in first grade, I was her Bible class teacher. All the other first grade girls in my Bible class were the youngest in their family and had much older siblings. Sweetheart was the oldest in her family and had a baby sister. Her friends LOVED coming to play at our house because we had a play kitchen and a home center and baby dolls and all this other "fun" stuff that had long since left their house. They had older siblings who sat around and played handheld games. There were precious few toys left in the house. I have decided not to do that to my youngest child no matter how ready I am for the toys to be out of the house! :)

Anyway, her world is a world of little kids. Her sister is little. The kids in our small group are little. There are not that many children her age at our church. She gets along very well with little kids. She still loves to play. She still loves to watch younger shows on TV. She's a happy kid.

Our concern comes with expectations. In our small group, we meet at people's homes. The adults sit in the living room and have a Bible study while the kiddos go to another room and have a short Bible lesson and then play or watch a movie. S and I think that she is getting too big to go play during the Bible study. We'd like for her to start joining the adults in Bible study. That will probably begin after her birthday because that just seems like a good time to make that transition.

I know she LIKES going to play. I also know she's capable of joining in the Bible study. And I know which one is more important. In other situations, she will be sent to be with "the children." She's kind of in the middle now.

I've watched other parents deal with their children at this age. I've seen parents who shoo their children away to "go play" or "go in there with the other kids" so they can visit with their adult friends. And certainly there is a time and place for children to be with children so the grown ups can talk. I've seen kids complain that "everyone else is younger than me" or "they aren't my age." I don't want my children to feel "too good" to go be in a room with younger children (and frankly, that's not much of an issue with homeschooled kids), but I can also see where there is a need for these middle-aged children, if you will, to be allowed to sit in with the grown-ups. How are they going to learn how to be adults if they are never even around adults?

In days past, children sat through dreadfully boring dinner parties or afternoon tea while the grown-ups visited and all they were allowed to do is use their good manners and not fidget. There is a time for our children to be included and invited in and not always segregated off with "the little ones." It's confusing for kids though. Am I a "little kid" in this situation or am I big? Yesterday you let me sit at the table while you talked with Mrs. Smith, now today you are sending me off to the playroom while you visit with Aunt. Which is it?

OK you experienced moms out there. Tell me about this transition from being a little kid to being a young lady or young man. This is new ground for me.


  1. B -
    I am by now means "an experienced mom" in this regard. But I just wanted to say , I do agree with you in what you say about home-schooled children not having an issue with being "too good" to play with other children of different ages. It is one of the main differences I have seen with children who are public schooled vs. home-schooled. Big girl has had some of her longest known friends who happen to be public schooled give her the cold shoulder in regards to play. I often think that society is sometimes forcing our young to grow up too soon and not experience being a child while they can.

    By the way, Big girl is always thrilled to play with Sweetheart and considers her to be a special friend of hers. And I am thankful that Sweetheart does play with her even though she is 2 years older than BG.

    That being said, the one thing that we do to try to help our children be exposed to conversation and inclusiveness in adult time is when we go out to eat with friends, church family, etc. I sit my children right in the middle of it all. I don't isolate them to one side of the table or a completely different table. I have two talkers though, so it is not long before they start speaking with the adults across from them. It usually works out well, I always tell them to ask adults questions about themselves, cause people naturally like to talk about themselves. They seem to enjoy their adult time.

    Sorry this is so long .....

  2. Great thoughts! I don't have any advice, because I
    am at this same place, only I have an "old eight" child. She is way too mature for her age, and wants to be included in adult conversation all the time.

    That can't always happen. But she is content to playwith others as well. I agree that it's a hard time for them, but it's a necessary transition. I don't want her to feel like she's too good to play with the littles, but I also don't want her to think she's the boss.

    I could use some advice too!

  3. Honestly, Sweetheart doesn't care that much about joining the adults. But I know we will face that coming soon.

    My biggest concern is being the parent to pull my kid away from playing. It looks like she's going to have to be the necessary guinea pig. I hate that for her. Can't we just all agree that beginning in 4th grade, they will join the bible study instead of playing? That would make it so much easier!

  4. Good's a wild ride...especially when you have one agenda and she has another :)


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)