By Allison Slater Tate
Five wears stickers on his shirt, which is getting to be too small and bares a wee bit of belly, Spiderman light-up sneakers, and a face half-painted to look like Iron Man.
Five has swagger to spare.
Five is a whole hand, it’s no longer a baby, not even a toddler or a preschooler.
Five is a big deal.
After the slow, rickety, listen-to-every-click-of-the-wheels climb to the top of the rollercoaster that is the first four years of parenting, five lets you pause for just a moment at the apex. In the brief stillness, you suck your breath in as you look back on the journey that brought you there, anticipating the free fall and the loop-de-loops below that will carry you toward adolescence, “teenager-land”, and the great beyond. Five is both an end and a beginning.
Five is silly. Five is savvy. Five is blessedly unselfconscious and bold. Five is tall enough to ride bigger rides, to jump off high dives, to swim from end to end of the pool. Five can take on the monkey bars and zip lines successfully with nary a glimpse of fear. Five still holds your hand with small but sure fingers in crosswalks, still wants to snuggle at night, and still tells you he loves you without hesitation. Five can be an exasperating master at the art of whining and cajoling, but he also listens to reason a little bit more than his four-year-old brethren. Five wears his heart on his sleeve. Five has an uninhibited belly laugh that is positively infectious.
Five goes to kindergarten, to the world of big-kid school: a graduation for both child and (often sniffly) parent. We spend years wishing for maybe just another hour of preschool, for just a little more time before the overtired and needy chaos returns home. Suddenly, we find ourselves in the thick of full-time school, and we miss that chaos. We miss the endless questions, the “Mommy, look at me!” We miss PBS Kids providing the background soundtrack of our weekday mornings (just me?). We mourn the loss of the majority of our children’s waking hours. We feel, more acutely, the ache of the passage of time. Five shows us how fast it goes…
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