When our oldest was a toddler, we ran to the emergency room frequently. If he hit his head, we ran to the ER. If he got a cut and we were sure it needed stitches, to the ER. If he was coughing to much or wheezing just a little, you guessed it- to the ER.
Let's fast forward to the present day. Our 4th child is 15. He has always been the most injured kid. When we add up the major injuries in this house, he not only has the most, but he has more than the other three combined. He is also the most daring, willing to take a risk with his body the rest would have to consider first. He rides his bike a lot, he gets road rash a lot. He is not only in the marching band, he is the ONLY sousaphone in the marching band. When he recently got his permit, he had no problem jumping in the car and driving the speed limit. ( I almost had a heart attack) He rarely goes to the ER in comparison to his injuries. (We have a nice first aid kit)
Needless to say, the 4th child in this family has had a few perks. They aren't intentional perks, and I quit feeling guilty about them a few weeks ago. He and his next oldest sibling (17) are the only kids home now. We go out to eat. We hang out at home. We have finally figured out what being a parent is all about. Did I mention the 2 older ones moved out and got married? I think this whole parenting thing was presented in the wrong fashion.
My husband and I worked hard, providing for these kids what they needed and on occasion, what they wanted. I have worked some crazy jobs to pay for Christmas gifts, vacations and whatever else came down the pipe. We have juggled this and traded that so we could be decently comfortable and provided for. All along the way, struggling to make ends meet on a consistent basis. (Until recently, we had no "discretionary income"- I always thought that was a stupid term because we really didn't know many people who had it). Now I realize we just used it on shoes and clothes and bedding and a vet bill and braces. Those are our luxury items. :)
Being the 4th child has been beneficial because we don't sweat the small stuff anymore. You need school clothes? Goodwill.
You need new shoes? Coupon.
You want to get your drivers permit? No Problem We can go on the only Saturday in the next 5 months when we have a spare hour- so don't fail the test.
Pizza? order it.
Soda? go to the fridge
Date? be home by curfew.
It sounds a little crazy to our older kids- it should. Mom and dad are a little looser with some of the rules. We also know what is important. Its not the money, the things or the outside people. Its the time. The time we spend with our teenagers is becoming rarer and more priceless. With every passing moment we realize that no one ever told us that time was the most important thing. Time to spend on the couch on a lazy winter day. TIme to go to a movie on a summer night. Time around a bonfire in the fall. Time in the garden in the spring. Time watching them grow, participating in their activities and loving the young adults they have become.
It was always said to us "get jobs, get a sitter, make a living, pay for stuff."
Well, newsflash- you can't buy time.