I have always enjoyed little children, I think. :) At least it seems that way. Maybe not at the very beginning when my little brother was born three days before I turned six years old. I had an older brother already, and we played well together, though I remember being chased quite a bit, and him scaring the heebie jeebies out of me many times. I got a little annoyed at having my baby brother tag along behind me, getting in the way of my "big girl" things, like wrecking havoc with my dolls or throwing all my books on the floor. Shortly after came my first sister, then shortly after came my second sister, and then shortly after came my third sister. (Shortly is a term I use loosely because when you are little time seems to crawl by, and so does being pregnant, but as you grow older times seems to fly faster then ever and before you know it, you've reached your 40th birthday and all the days behind you seems like it was a "short" time.) So, there it was, six children in the Pinkham family, two boys and three girls. I watched my younger siblings a lot, helping keep them out from under foot when my mom was making dinner or cleaning. I remember a few times my parents went out alone and though my older brother was the older one, I did all the work, cooking for the crew, cleaning up after them, giving them baths, and putting them to bed. I knew the process well and it worked for us. Little children were my norm in life.
I began babysitting when I was 12 years old and watched many children all through my teen years. I had regular babysitting jobs every week and made quite a bit of money. It became so common that some people in town never saw me without a child in tow. I was often called the "little mother." The children I watched were always ten years or younger and I was glad about that. I always did get along better with younger people than me, and all my best friends were a couple years younger too. So teens scared me. I did not know how to interact with them. Plus, I had heard teens are terrible at listening and those years are extremely difficult.
Fast forward a few years to my 20's and now I have a crew of my own. I had four children rather quickly, and life settled into the busyness of taking care of four toddlers, four years and under. I barely had time to breath, let alone think as I chased after my two boys and two little girls. A few years later my fifth baby arrived, making my number three boys and two girls. I would sometimes stop and think about what it would be like to have teenagers, and it scared me to death to even consider having that many teens all at the same time. I was much more comfortable with my babies. I knew exactly what they needed, I knew where they were at all times, and tending to their needs came naturally. I was an old pro.
Fast forward again to now...I have four teenagers and one 9 year old, who thinks he is 16 too. My oldest is 18, just graduated from high school, and the rest are steadily making their way to the same place, and do you know what? I am loving my teens and this stage of life! Yes, we have had some ups and downs as their brains reset around 13 years of age, when we have to begin at step one and retrain them in all that we thought they knew from the beginning, but some of it is not their fault. It is just the changes that puberty brings. The beautiful thing is they respect us, happily do what we say, and life is very pleasant in our home. (I will add that there are some training moments, and times when they forget to do certain things, but don't we all?) But, the other night we were all sitting at a frozen yogurt place after church...my five children, my niece and nephew, and seven of their friends from youth group, and I just took in the amazing site of so many young people getting together and having a good time. I love watching them interact together, and my heart swells with joy at how my children have such good friends, and can laugh and talk comfortably together. A group of twenty people, four adults and the rest teens, went out on two pontoon boats yesterday and we had a blast on the lake! Jumping off Chicken Rock which was 15 feet up in the air, and swinging into the water on the rope swing was the highlight of the day. I love how I can talk to their friends and have a comfortable conversation, and I no longer fear the days when the word teen is after their number age. I am a mother of four teenagers and I am proud of it. "Thank you, Jesus, for giving me just what I needed at the right time to deal with the children you have placed into our home. Keep these precious children safe and guide them as they grow up, and may they always live for You. Amen."