I took my 8 and 10 year olds to the free Kids Workshop at Home Depot one Saturday. They had a nice time putting together a cork bulletin board, and now that they're a little older, the finished products looked quite nice. They were excited to get home and hang these up in their rooms.
I needed to do some grocery shopping and the store was nearby so I began heading out that way. My son asked why I was going this direction, and I said I needed to get some groceries. Knowing that we also needed to clean the house once we got home, my son shrugged and said, "I don't like Saturdays."
Anyone who knows my ten-year old son truly knows that he is sweet, optimistic, and fun-loving. So, it was surprising to hear him say this. But, at the same time, I used this moment as an opportunity to explain to my kids that as they get older, they will need to understand that days are not filled with 100% fun. There will be work, things that have to get done, and things you despise doing.
While talking to my kids, I realized that my son is at about that age when the "fun begins to end." I'm not saying he doesn't have a good time in life, but things are different. The high excitement events have become more even keeled; there are fewer birthday parties; the kids are outgrowing and becoming bored with the activities they used to look forward to (e.g. the local Chuck E. Cheese); and school days are transitioning from games and laughter formats for learning, to projects and tests. This can be a huge letdown and adjustment as kids age.
It's almost sad to see my son going through this change and realization that there are responsibilities in life that need to be attended to. I use the word "sad" because to me it means that he's growing up and I know I'll miss these years. But, on the same note, I am happy to see him mature and I know what a big lesson this is in order for him to be successful in life. And the best way to learn this leasson is through experience and seeing it for himself. Whether those lessons are learned watching his proud Dad finish a 12 hour work day or watching his Mom scramble work, Meijer, meals, baseball practice, soccer practice and laundry - the lessons are definitely sinking in. You can see it in his eyes.
The onus isn't only on the kids to learn these lessons. I'm definitely accountable for making sure both of my kids learn the value of the hard work it takes to achieve in life whether you're 8 years old or 80. Youth sports, for example, used to be a big party. Scores weren't kept and everyone received ice cream after the game. Things change and it's up to me to make sure that my son realizes that practice and hard work are mandatory if my son wants to pursue the next level of any of his sports and that high school coaches aren't big on handing out Bomb Pops and "atta boys" after every game. That's one small example but the message is clear. Everything isn't fun and bigger responsiblities are just around the corner. I hope my kids are ready. I hope I'm ready.