Parenting

My daughter is turning six. Now what?

As Anna celebrates this big birthday with her family and friends, Tracy wonders if parents of kids over six have it all figured out

My six-year-old, Anna, back when she was turning one. Wasn't that just yesterday?

I’ve spent way too much time and money at the dollar store this week. Why? Because I’m in the throes of planning Anna’s sixth birthday party. Anna didn’t want a big friend party, so we’re celebrating this weekend with mostly family, including Anna’s favourite cousins and a few of her friends from the neighbourhood.
 
We’re doing “springtime” for the party this year, spurred by some colourful foam flowers Anna and Avery painted up a few weeks ago as a weekend time-filler. “These would make great decorations for my birthday!” Anna exclaimed. And a theme was born, featuring lots of flowers, pinwheels and ice cream garden treats in terra cotta pots. I’ll post a picture if they turn out!
 
But honestly, all of this party planning is a good distraction from the fact that my firstborn is turning six. Six. It’s unreal. Just like everyone says, I’m standing here wondering how it’s possible that my baby has grown up so quickly.
 
I realized recently that I have a very instant reaction when someone tells me she has a six-year-old. When people say their kids are five or under, I feel kindred, like we are together in the new-parent trenches, busy, tired, trying to figure it all out. We get each other. Fist bumps all around.
 
But when I hear “he’s six” my reaction is very different. Instead of fist bumps, it’s more of a congratulatory pat on the back. I’m impressed. Wow — you made it through those zero-five years. You did it. You must have this whole parenting thing all figured out.
 
Of course, no one has it all figured out, really. I like to think I’ve learned a lot as a mom to an almost-six-year-old, but I don’t think I’ll ever feel I have it all figured out. Every age is a stage that we have to sort through, full of new challenges and questions and dilemmas. The more labor-intensive years may be behind parents with kids six and older (along with all those “free for five and under” admission discounts!) but there’s so much more to come. School. Friends. TV with commercials. I know that independence is a huge thing in the year ahead, and it will be interesting to see how that takes shape in my already fiercely independent girl.
 
I feel like I’m joining a new parenting club of the over-fives. Are you a member? I’d love to hear what the transition to age six was like for you and your child.