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Kim Bongiorno Headshot

Why Can't My Kids Stay Innocent Forever?

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My daughter is 5 ½ years old, and more self-aware than I'm ready for.

Recently, she began wearing a Pull-Up again at night. No big deal.

Then last week, she and a friend were washing the cat in the bathroom sink (don't even ask), and I heard them opening drawers, looking for something. Her friend commented on the stash of Pull-Ups, and my daughter said in a nonchalant way "Oh, those? They're my brother's," as if there was any chance that her 7-year-old big brother would wear tiny princess-themed Pull-ups.

Her response was so quick, so natural, that I wondered how long someone's been making her care that she doesn't just wear underwear at night.

Who is she trying to impress?

Why is she in such a hurry to grow up?

When I see her running in the house without pants on, I notice how long her legs are getting, how girlish she's becoming, how she's not my squiggly little baby anymore.

I'm not ready for her to impress The Cool Kids at school or -- Heaven forbid -- boys.

I'm not ready to deal with either of my kids like-liking anyone yet.

Just when I start to freak out about how my son casually mentioned a boy in his Second Grade class calling a girl "hot," I get reminded that they are, in fact, still just kids.

Today they had a friend over. I could hear the three of them in verbal competition trying to one-up each other with "Oh YEAH? Well I can do blah blah blah..."

My sweet-faced kindergartener's squeaky alien-chicken voice broke through the boys' rants and stated "Yeah, well I can jump REAL high AND fart!"

The boys were stunned into impressed silence at my dexterous little girl's feat, so I let go of the fact that she said The F-word and appreciated that she still thought farting on demand while jumping up really high was the way to impress a boy.

I'll take it as long as I can.

I know my kids have to grow up and experience peer pressure, have to start getting the kind of crushes that will make them doubt everything about themselves, but it looks like I still have time.

I made sure my daughter knew it was OK to need to wear Pull-Ups at night a little longer, but we agreed to keep them in the upstairs bathroom for now.

I made sure my son knew that he can't call a girl "hot" for at least another five years, and that he'd better come up with a bit more charming of a word choice before he got the desire to do just that.

I can't slow down time, so I'm trying to do a better job of keeping up with the stages my kids are going through. Someone's gotta help them stay sane while navigating the tricky waters of adolescence.

I'm also trying to dodge my daughter's fart-on-demand abilities. But that's a whole other story.