A neighbor child is in my home right now. She's 4. She's a cute kid, decently well-behaved, and I don't mind having her over for short stints. She does, however, remind me that I was never cut out to be a caregiver of young/preschool-age children for any longer than mine were in that age group.
They are exhausting.
I remember this every time preschool-aged children visit. When my nephews stayed a couple of days while their parents were out of town, I was totally done by the time they left. I remember being completely wrung out after a single day of substitute teaching the preK class at Boo's old school (teachers who work with that age day in and day out have my ultimate respect, because I would go absolutely insane after a single week). There is a reason that I sent my two to preschool and kindergarten - that age group and I simply do not mesh well. The drama, the constant need for supervision, the constant need for redirection, the need to help them get, eat, and clean up after even the simplest of snacks (and let's not even talk meals), the desire to have someone cater to their every whim at every hour of the day... watching and listening to the neighbor girl even for an hour or so this afternoon has reminded me that while I may occasionally whine about the fact that my kids are getting older, there are so many benefits that it's hard to enumerate them all.
I no longer have sippy cups anywhere in my house. Stepstools? A thing of the past. I don't have to worry about messes, because my kids can clean up after themselves (whether they will or not is a different story, but the capability is there). They know our schedule and don't clamor for a second snack 45 minutes after they've just eaten one... and even if they did, and I said no, I wouldn't get tears and an attempted guilt trip about it. I haven't wiped anyone else's bottom in years. There are no car seats in Sylvia, and I don't have to open a door for anyone to get in or out.
I do know, when I think about it, that I've always been better suited to kids Boo's age and older. Even as a teen, I was fairly uncomfortable with anyone over the age of 2 and under the age of 7 or 8. That still holds. I like having intelligible, intelligent conversations. I like the hard questions. I like delving into tougher topics and watching the kids learn more independently. And you simply can't have that with littler kids. They aren't ready. I get it. Nothing wrong with that... it's just not my cuppa. And there's nothing wrong with that, either.
(I've noticed that Doodlebug was holed up in front of the TV and has since skulked to his room while the neighbor girl has been here, and I sincerely doubt he'll surface until she's gone. His idea of handling younger kids is to sit very still and hope they don't notice him... and if they do, he'll avoid eye contact and utter monosyllabic answers to their questions until they walk away... and usually when they walk away, they want to know, "Why won't he talk?" It's really funny. It's even funnier to watch Doodlebug in the same room with a newborn. His discomfort level goes straight through the roof, and if you ask him if he wants to see/touch/hold the infant, it's like trapping a wild animal. He freezes, then looks frantically around for someone to reassure him that it's okay to say no. Newborns have squicked him out since he was 5 1/2 and his cousin was born. I try to take it easy on him, since, as I've said, I'm not particularly comfortable around kids between the ages of 2 and 6 myself, unless I have to be.)
It's nice not to have to raise any more preschoolers. I can watch others' kids for a while and then hand them back when I'm all done, but they are not a permanent fixture. Consider my nostalgia problem fixed, and remind me of this post next time I lament my children's age/size/hormone problems. Because even if they're mouthier and more independent, I'll take 8 and 10 over 3 and 5 any day.