Our oldest daughter, Amy is 5 years older than her next sibling. She is followed by a child born every 20-24 months for 4 years. When Amy was younger, she was the big kid and the other children were the little ones. Amy is now 23 years old (for a few more weeks) and the group of four were followed five years later with two sisters who are 20 months apart. The little ones have become the big kids. My youngest big kid is now a teen. For the next year, we will have 4 teenaged children.
The teen years were much more challenging and rewarding than I thought. Our teens are so much fun to be around! They are so capable, helpful and have the ability to make me laugh.....even when I'm trying not to laugh. There were a couple of challenging years when I worried more than normal about the choices they were making. It's difficult to keep my mouth shut and let them make decisions that I don't think are a good idea. Not sinful decisions, but choices that may make things more difficult for them later.
The older children are focusing more on specific interests and getting involved in fewer things. Steve is still very focused on skateboarding. He would spend 16 hours a day at the skate park if I let him. Joe is excelling at running and really enjoys his workouts. He also loves to read and invent things. I'm impressed that he already has an educational goal. Madelyn is not as much of a specialist as the older teens, but I'm sure that it will happen to her as well. She still has many interests.
It seems strange to have so many older children. Even my babies are not so little. Paige is going into 3rd grade this year; Allie is going into 2nd grade. I loved the baby stage with the special sweetness and delight in every new milestone. The toddler and pre-school stage is fun. Watching the children develop individual tastes and talents. Enjoying the funny antics and make-believe play was a joy. Paige and Allie still play make-believe games, but I realize that these days are numbered.
A nice thing about having older children is that they don't need constant supervision. I love letting the younger girls play outside without needing to be outside with them. I seem to be providing more guidance and less protection. No longer is it necessary to keep the kids from stuffing beads up their noses or eating toadstools.
I loved having younger children, but I think that older children will be just as rewarding. The next 5 years will include many changes in our immediate family circle. Most of our children will be adults and many of them will have moved on with their own lives. I intend to really savor these years before it is too late.