A good friend of mine was appalled that no one had told her her feet would be a size bigger after she had a baby. It seems she had been fully prepared to grow out of her pants (or as fully prepared as one can ever be for one's youth and hotness to evaporate into thin air on short notice), but to lose her prized shoe collection? Ouch. "You knew about this! Why didn't you warn me?!" she cried. I hung my head in shame - I didn't really get into the compulsive shoe purchasing thing until after I had Small Fry so it hadn't occurred to me it could be such a problem. Now every time I have a parenting revelation, I feel obligated to share it with the world lest I let someone down again.
This week's parenting revelation is the Six-Year-Old Growth Spurt. Maybe it happens at five-and-nine-twelfths, maybe it happens at six-and-a-quarter, but happen it will. And it has caught me unprepared twice over:
One evening way back when Medium Fry was in grade one, she burst into tears and accused me of not packing her any lunch, all week. This was clearly not the case, as I sent her to school each day with a lunch so resplendent with food groups and healthful choices that teachers and classroom aides alike routinely complimented me on them - in short, not only did I send a lunch every day, I sent a Grade A Parenting lunch. Setting my wounded Grade A Parent pride aside, I delved deeper into the problem: as it turned out, after eating First Breakfast at home, followed by Second Breakfast at her sitter's house before school, Medium Fry would eat her entire lunch for Third Breakfast at recess time in the morning, leaving only her intended recess snack - usually an apple - for actual lunch, and nothing at all for the afternoon. By the 3 o'clock bell, she was beyond hangry at her terribly thoughtless mother who had "neglected" to pack enough food. Uh, who knew? For about three months following, I packed that wee six-year-old girl a lunch fit for a lumberjack with a bad case of tapeworms, which was just about enough to get her through the day most days. Our measuring wall documents the associated growth spurt that occurred at this time.
All these years later, we're coming up to Small Fry's sixth birthday on Saturday. Yesterday, he came downstairs in the morning weeping hysterically, with a disturbing combination of snot, tears and blood pouring down his face. For a few moments I believed it was his cracked lip that was the issue. "It's not my lip that's the pwoblem, Mommy!" he bawled. Well, what the heck was the problem? "I don't want to turn siiiiiix! I don't want to get old and diiiieeee! Bwaaaaa!"
Ah. I see. I had foolishly tried to apply chapstick, when what he really needed to appease his wounded little soul was... breakfast. You fooled me twice, six-year-old growth spurt - shame on me.
After destroying a turkey sandwich, two kiwis and a bowl of yogurt - a volume of food that I'm not convinced I could ingest in one sitting - Small Fry was back to his usual chipper and unconcerned self. He even wore a silver Mardi Gras necklace and a paper crown to school. (If only breakfast made us all so awesome.)
So, parents of the preschool set, let my experiences be a warning to you: the six-year-old growth spurt is a hungry beast. Signs and symptoms may be misleading. Keep your eyes peeled.
But don't fret about your grocery bills just yet - it'll be over soon, and your little one will go back to violating the laws of thermodynamics with their typical diet of crackers and air.