Margaret likes to talk about how she is a big girl and Mama's sweet little baby. It seems to be a concept that she has to discuss a lot in order to try to comprehend it, and she seems to revel in the idea that she has two different identities. To be honest, I have a tough time comprehending it as well. Sometimes I see her as a more mature older girl that I rely on to help me with the two babies and cleaning up. And then she does something very, very silly, or needs some snuggling in the rocking chair, and she becomes my first little baby again.
Last night I let her stay up a little later and we indulged in some ice cream and conversation while waiting for Clay to come home from work (a late night working hard in Joplin). After we both carefully scraped our bowls clean she voluntarily jumped up, stacked our bowls together and carried them very carefully over to the kitchen sink. I was a proud mama. She is such a good helper and is (almost) always cheerfully obliging when I ask her to complete a task.
Sometimes it is hard for me to remember her frame and not to expect too much from her. While I have been conscious of this before I got another good reminder from a friend at church as we discussed our babies (her's all grown up) and about taking time to appreciate them. This is one of the many reasons I love our church family - there are so many wonderful young families to compare notes with and so many godly women with grown families to give advice and the right perspectives.
The same consideration also applies to little William. He's still very much a baby but sometimes, because he is younger than Margaret and I don't get as much one on one time with him, I forget what he is capable of doing. Like that he is old enough to sit still for prayer and worship time. Or clear his bowl from the breakfast table, or help unload the dishwasher, or start coloring and doing puzzles. All these things I have recently been working on with him and he absolutely loves all of it....well, except maybe sitting still - but he does like holding hands for prayer and often points to the Bible and requests family worship.
And yes, he is definitely old enough to not always being toddling around with a nuk, but he hasn't been feeling well for a long time so I procrastinate... It's on the list, along with potty training.... maybe when the house is back to normal? (I'm good at excuses.)
But back to the main point... There is a fine balance to strike here. I ought not to take advantage of Margaret being the oldest, and a willing worker, and cause her to resent being a helper. But I also believe that it is easy to underestimate children's abilities and their understanding of things, and that it is so valuable for them to grow up knowing how to be cheerful helpers with responsibilities. And to be taught valuable truths from scripture and life instead of trying to dumb everything down to "their level". They catch so much more than we realize (but it's also good practice for me to learn how to explain concepts in a way that they can grasp). This is when I am so thankful for good role models to look to for example and wisdom. And for the grace of God in using me as a parent despite my numerous flaws.