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5 Ways You Parent Now That You'll Have to Stop Soon

Being a parent of older kids has its perks. Once you get past those baby and toddler stages, you feel as if you can breathe a bit more. You're no longer beholden to a milk monster who demands that you feed him every two to three hours at night. You can (mostly) trust your children to play by themselves in a completely separate room. You can have entire conversations with them.

Sometimes, you can even sleep through the night.

But my husband and I have learned that, as your kids get older and gain more independence, you give up a few things, too.

1. They are your new radio overlords

"Please, Mom, can we not listen to NPR this time? Can we do the other station? The one with the good music? The kind we listen to? Please?"

I finally relented to their request a few months ago. I gave up full control of the radio dial. And do you know what my new radio reality is?

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We start the car. That Justin Bieber song is playing. We stop the car, enter the store for a 15-minute shopping trip, get back into the car and start it up again. That same Justin Bieber song is playing. Again. As it will be. Forever. And ever. Until the radio gods decide which next mediocre pop song to overplay.

Sometimes I just turn the dial back to NPR and tune out my children's anguished cries over "having to listen to that Gross Fresh Air person again."

2. Forget inane cartoons: Welcome to inane YouTube channels

So there's a time when you can pretend that Sesame Street is the only kids' programming that exists. Then there's a time of flux, and you can reluctantly put up with a few other shows, despite the fact that you have absolutely no idea where Max and Ruby's parents are and you think that Curious George is kind of a dick.

Our kids now pick up on innuendo.

With older kids, you give up complete pre-approval of every single piece of media they encounter. Parental controls help. But they don't prevent kids from finding new shows on their own.

And they didn't prevent my kids from discovering YouTube. They also didn't prevent them from discovering those YouTube channels where people record themselves playing Minecraft and just, like, talking about it. I now monitor the YouTube viewing, mostly so I can ensure that my kids aren't watching anything age-inappropriate. But sometimes I also just watch to marvel at the fact that some of these people make 10 times my family's income simply by recording themselves playing Minecraft and just, like, talking about it.

3. Goodbye, innuendo, insinuation and overtones

Gone are the days when my husband and I can make hints to one another about Christmas presents or upcoming vacation plans or our desire to go upstairs to our bedroom and lock the door for half an hour.

Okay, 10 minutes. Ten minutes would do.

Our kids now pick up on innuendo. They can sniff out all our nuance, all our overtones. Now we must have these conversations in private or make strange hand gestures about our plans to sneak upstairs for 10 minutes.

Okay, five minutes. Five minutes would do.

But by the way our kids react to these kisses, you'd think that we were skinning rotten possum carcasses with our bare hands.

4. Kissing is gross, so stop it

My husband and I don't engage in slobbery make-out sessions in front of our kids. But we do kiss. We're affectionate people who like to express small moments of love and affection throughout the day.

But by the way our kids react to these kisses, you'd think that we were skinning rotten possum carcasses with our bare hands.

"Ewwwww, gross, you guys! Stop it! That's disgusting!"

"Ugh, make it stop! Why did I have to see that?"

"Seriously? Seriously? Kissing? Again? In the kitchen? Where everyone can see?"

I have a feeling that I'll be able to get them back with some exaggerated reactions of my own once they're in high school.

5. Daily, lasting snuggles are precious and fleeting

I don't know when it stops. Maybe it's when their bodies are just too big to fit on your lap. Maybe it's when they become self-conscious about cuddling with their mom or dad. Maybe it's when they forget how much they once loved doing nothing but curling up against your chest and fitting all snug into your arms.

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But it does stop. And it makes me never want to give up on any of the hugs and quick snuggles that I get from my older kids these days.

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Photograph by: Kristen Oganowski

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