Someone once told me that every new stage the kids entered would become my favorite. There’ve been several times I found that theory a little hard to swallow – while enduring the pigheaded terrible twos, coaching kids through the onset of testing anxiety, and these delightful hormonal outbursts that rival Mount Vesuvius.

But the thing is they were right.

Are there drawbacks to each new stage?  You betcha.  But each one also brings changes that have a definite upside.

Take, for instance, our current tweens in residence.  Sure, they’ve got their high octane moments.  Periods when their hormones reach a velocity that could in theory break the sound barrier.  But there’s definitely some perks to this age, too.

First and foremost, it’s refreshing to have kids I can trust to entertain themselves for a few hours at a time without having to worry one will end up maimed.  I spent so many years with them under close surveillance, protecting them from themselves, from the dogs, from each other…being able to leave them alone makes me want to twirl and sing on a mountaintop.

Plus T-man and Bear are also capable of handling more than just basic snacks for themselves. The microwave and toaster oven are a breeze, and they’re slowly mastering stovetop cooking.  It was sometime in October when I decided the kids were old enough (praise Jesus) to pack their own lunches, which was an enormous weight lifted from my shoulders.  And if I’m unlucky enough to catch a bug that knocks me off my feet? Well, the kids might not eat meals approved by the AAP but at least I know they won’t starve while I curl up in bed.

These guys are also taking on bigger responsibilities, too.  They bathe, brush, and walk the dogs. They’re learning to do laundry.  There isn’t a household chore I wouldn’t ask them to do (though I may question their method of loading the dishwasher), and they’re (usually) responsible for keeping track of their own stuff.  In short, they’re a whole lot more independent now which frees me up for, well, my stuff.

So are we being treated to full blown exorcist impressions at times?  Sure.  But we’ve also got two kids who can handle a whole lot more than they used to, and that’s definitely something to be grateful for.

My entry as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.