By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon

Recently, my mom dropped off a stash of baby things for me to donate to my church. As I scanned the bags of relics that were once integral parts of my life, I realized – with a lump in my throat – that we are no longer in that phase of life. No more stacking rings, wooden puzzles, and board books for this family. Suddenly – and quite unexpectedly – I have entered the world of Harry Potter, Roblox, and professional sports fandom. The things I received as baby shower gifts are obsolete.

Yep, I had myself a moment. And then, while seated in a $70 foam and wire concoction that makes a bleacher seat at a natatorium almost bearable, I had another moment. Why don’t we have big kid showers?

I mean, people spend hundreds of dollars on that baby before he or she even opens an eyeball. And then that kid starts wiping his own behind and speaking in (mostly) cohesive sentences, and there are crickets from the “supportive community.”

People, our friends with big kids still need help. Lots of it.

So what would presents look like at a big kid shower? Well, for starters, they wouldn’t be cute.

Nope, big kid presents look like that magical foam bleacher seat I mentioned earlier. Every big kid parent should get at least one. Let’s face it, big kid parenting doesn’t involve cushioned gliders. It involves butts that are considerably past their prime sandwiched for hours on hard metal, with an occasional rise to cheer on the athlete in question.

Big kid parents need noise-cancelling headphones for everything from playdates to everyday life. No, big kids don’t have colic. It’s just that everything about their existence is…LOUD. Talking about their day? Loud. Playing video games? Loud. Practicing piano? LOUD. (A piano teacher once suggested to my middle child that it wasn’t necessary to attack the piano keys, and he was legitimately confused. What other option is there?) Good loud is still loud, and noise-cancelling headphones do wonders for a mama with anxiety.

Big kid parents need gas cards. Lots and lots of gas cards. Basically, big kid parenting takes place in a Chevy, with rare excursions to the bleacher seats. There have been years where I spent the hours from 3pm until 7pm in my minivan. I have a mobile hotspot and a laptop, and I now refer to said van as “my office.” Admittedly, a lot of our best conversations happen on those drives around town, but there are also plenty of moments when I could use the noise-cancelling headphones.

Big kid parenting should come with a subscription to liability insurance. Literally everything kids like at this age can kill them – or at least maim one of their friends. Nerf wars, trampoline parks, ninja warrior adventures…heck, even four-square can take a remarkably savage turn. Let one kid get hurt on your playset, and all of a sudden their medical insurance company is coming after your home insurance company…it’s insane.

You’ll also need a lifetime supply of laundry detergent, which you’ll plow through in a week. A housekeeper would also be nice, since a room won’t stay clean longer than 12 hours. And dish soap? Just buy stock in Proctor and Gamble – that way you’ll benefit when your dirty dishes boost their bottom line.

Big kids do still need clothes. Nope, these aren’t cute clothes to buy. There are no appliqued elephants or monkeys. And they aren’t cheap either. Unlike the baby clothes, by the time you get the elementary age, the hand-me-down chain has dried up. Babies basically sleep in their clothes for three months, outgrow them, and free them up for the next kid in the family. Big kids climb trees, take flying leaps off scooters and bikes, dig in the dirt, slide into imaginary bases, dig holes to the center of the earth, cram their pockets full of pretty rocks, and basically destroy every single elbow and knee in every single outfit you buy them. And those outfits are twenty bucks instead of ten.

Along with the clothes, big kid parent needs a lifetime supply of shoes. A big kid can outgrow a pair of shoes in a week. And the ones that don’t get outgrown first literally fall apart at the seams and beg to die. Oh.- and big kids also require odor control for those shoes. I have a very poor sense of smell, and I have nearly thrown up when my boys take off their shoes in the back seat. They make these nifty little bags of charcoal that help tremendously when the shoe wearer remembers to put them in the shoe at night. Go ahead and add those to your list.

Do not bother to buy socks (they won’t wear them), coats (who actually wears a coat at that age?), or underwear (they literally forget and apparently don’t feel a draft). Personal hygiene products are also a waste, but gift cards to the water department are much appreciated. Apparently it is possible to take a 20-minute shower and emerge red and scalded, with dry hair and a smudge of mud still residing on your cheek.

Don’t get me wrong: the big kid years are sweet. The conversations are absolutely riotous. It’s amazing to watch them learn and discover their world. But they’re expensive in their own way and it just makes sense to give these mamas and dads a little help. You could even have fun little big kid shower games, like “Name That Stench” and “Pin The Tail on the Missing Homework.” It would be fun. We should do it.

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