My youngest child Teagan turns 5 today. Though she’s the baby of the family, she seems to move so quickly between one phase to the next — reaching developmental milestones so much faster than I would like.
A few days ago, I asked my husband “Is this the end of cute?”
He looked at me, puzzled.
“Is this the end of the period of life where we have cute kids?”
Of course my older kids are wonderful and witty but they are all little grown-ups, showing more and more glimmers of the adults they will become each day. My son is 12 and just outgrew me. My three other daughters — age 11, 10 and 7 — fill me in on their lives with sophisticated details and vocabulary. They all make me laugh but Teagan is the only one left with that “cute” factor.
She’s the only one who still says some of her words wrong. She asks for “waterlemon” when she wants watermelon. Teagan is the only one who still has the confidence to sing out, top of her lungs, without knowing all the words or having the music in front of her (“Middle” by Jessie Ware is a favorite of hers to just belt out without warning).
Teagan is the only one who still plays — like REALLY plays — with toys. Her 7-year-old sister has graduated to drawing pictures and creating her own books/games when she’s feeling creative. Her ‘tween sisters read books or hit the volleyball outside or just talk to each other for fun. My son rides his bike around with friends, being cool, and looks at his phone more than any of the toys in our entire house.
Teagan still gathers up all of her Paw Patrol figurines, lining them up on the dining room table or the floor of my office, setting up scenarios for them to play out. She rarely goes anywhere without at least one stuffed animal. If it has wheels, you will find Teagan pushing it through the halls of our home, making up scenes and making noises as she moves. She gets completely lost in her own world of play and imagination.
I’m not sure at what age that true “play” desire leaves our children. When does the creativity evolve from hands-on imaginative play to something else? I can’t remember the last time any of my older kids played in the way that Teagan still does. I can’t remember the last time one of my older kids said a word wrong and didn’t go back and correct themselves. And singing out in public? My older girls would consider it if it was the right key, the air was warm enough and they for-sure knew all the words. My son? Ha. You won’t catch him singing randomly in public until he is trying to embarrass a son of his own one day.
Is this the end of cute?
So as Teagan turns five, it’s more than a milestone birthday for her. It’s a milestone birthday for our entire family. We’re all growing up, morphing into a unit that thrives less on the chaos of early childhood to one that is more purposeful and driven. The talents and goals of the individual members are starting to surface outside of what we do as a unit. In true baby-of-the-family style, Teagan is still just along for the ride for whatever her older siblings are doing. I know that is going to change soon – if not this coming year, within a few years.
I remember wishing a few times for the day when my kids would be a little more independent so I would have more of my own time back. Well, I have more of it now and it’s not going to turn back. I don’t want to wish any more time with any of my kids away, no matter what the life phase or rough patch. The song “Let Them Be Little (’cause they’re only that way for awhile)” just keeps repeating in my head. Be little, Teagan, just a little longer.
Happy Birthday sweet Teagan Maureen Hope. You brighten our entire family’s lives.