Four Years

31 Aug

Dear RJ
Yesterday, you turned four years old!

I’m going to get this out of the way: this has been an incredibly annoying year!

At age two, you were a dream! Listening, following simple directions, Going to bed without a fuss, and tiny tantrums that consisted of laying down on the floor. I was foolish enough to believe that we successfully conquered the “terrible twos” without any problems.

Your third birthday coincided with your brother becoming mobile and the terrible threes were born. We’ll probably never know if your tantrum problems arose specifically because of baby brother getting in to your stuff or if it was your destiny anyway.

At any rate, I have really not enjoyed the whining, crying, and fighting of this past year. I understand that it’s part of growing up, but I have not enjoyed it. I have, however, really enjoyed watching you grow, learn new things, develop your vocabulary, and use your fabulous imagination.

You are very demanding as you always want dad or I to play with you, but eventually you do play by yourself; listening to the stories that evolve is quite entertaining. Everything you read about or watch on tv is almost always immediately reenacted through dress-up play, stuffed toys, little people, cars and trucks, or whatever combination of figures you find in the toy drawers.

In September, almost a year ago, I signed you up at the neighbourhood daycare for one day a week. It was my hope to introducing you to rules and routines (and other adult authority) different than home. I also wanted you to have social interactions away from the comfort of your own home and start slowly preparing you for school.

The first two days at daycare were oddly easy. Then the following six weeks, daycare drop off was full of tears and refusals and clinging. After Christmas was the turnaround where you were actually excited to get out of the house. Putting you in daycare, while expensive (even one day a week), was a great idea. I believe it helped relieve the shyness and reluctance to talk to new people. Being an introvert is not a bad thing, but having a little bit of extravertedness makes public interaction a bit less stressful and exhausting. All this daycare has been the lead up to kindergarten, which is starting very soon!

Bedtime is often a challenge with you. I remember fondly when you were 2 and you would cheerfully hold my hand as we walked down to bed together. One story and into the crib and lights out. Most nights you’d sleep 10-12 hours without a peep.

At age three, the battles and stalling before bed started. You wanted dozens of stories before bed. Suddenly you needed another drink and another hug and another pee break. After the potty training just before turning three, you started getting up to pee and then were unable to get back up into bed. That’s when we just put your mattress on the floor, hoping you’d get up to per and go back to bed on your own. By Christmas, you were getting up to go pee and returning to bed about half the time. The other half, you were jumping into bed with us and then needed someone to lay down with you in order to fall asleep again.

That fall was also when the nightmares started. As of right now, I’d estimate that three nights a week are ruined by your nightmares and inability to return to restful sleep. And when I say ruined, I mean, mom and dad get little sleep and become zombies during the following day.

Here is an exhaustive list of your favourite things:
Mighty Machines (tv show)
Farm Equipment
Fire stations and fire trucks
Garbage trucks
Recycle trucks
Making food in his toy kitchen
Stuffed animals ( Lamb-chops, wrinkles, snoopy, growlie, kitty cat, puppets, Blue, and Leonard the Octopus, to name a few)
Zoboomafoo (tv show)
Richard Scarry Busy Town (tv)
Anatomy
Tools
Construction machinery
Super heroes
Reading stories

And a list of some old favourites which have been relegated to the back-burner, but still get trotted out occasionally.

Thomas the tank engine (show and toys)
Dora the Explorer (show and toys)
Go Diego Go (show and toys)
Backyardigans (show)
Monster trucks
Sesame Street (show and toys)
Drawing
Painting
Toy Story (movies and toys)
Disney Cars (movie and toys)
Disney Princesses (movies and dolls)

What I love about your style of play is that you have such a wide variety of interests and obsessions. There are brief periods where you insist upon being called a character name (Diego, Alicia, Puppy, Kitty) but it usually doesn’t last long before you move on to the next game or play scenario.

Unfortunately this easy transition in play doesn’t apply to other situations. One of our biggest battles – what causes half the tantrums (other half comes from baby brother messing up your stuff) – is transitioning from one activity to the next. You don’t want to stop playing to have a bath; you don’t want to get out of the bath to go to bed, etc. thankfully this has improved somewhat but I’ll welcome continued improvement for sure!

A small list of your dislikes:
Bees and other big noisy insects
Going to bed
Getting your hair washed
Loud noises such as motorcycles and the vacuum
Leaving daycare
Sharing with baby brother

A few words to describe you:

Busy – You always want to be playing or working. You love to play but you enjoy being given a job such as pulling weeds, carrying groceries, putting groceries away, helping bake (mostly with Gramma), watering the garden, and many other small and relatively easy tasks.

Social – last year you were painfully shy and I was a tad concerned. I grew more concerned in the fall when every single play date ended in meltdown because the other kids weren’t playing right. This is, of course, one of the reasons we opted for a day of daycare. I’m pleased to report that you are increasingly social and talkative to almost every adult you encounter (time to learn about stranger danger) and your interaction with other children is getting better and better. It’s hard to say if that’s the daycare or your maturity.

Imaginative – Everything can be turned into a game and if I do manage to get you playing independently, the stories you spin are hilarious.

Sensitive – You’re getting very good at expressing your feelings without a tantrum and good at feeling sad when others are sad. You apologize (most of the time) when you do something wrong, you express concern over other people, and try to offer comfort. You even say, “Mommy I have empathy for that person.” You also take it incredibly hard when you get in trouble, crying big giant tears of sadness and always asking for hugs.

Inquisitive – We’re always surprised at the big words, the random bits of trivia, and all the knowledge that bursts out of you. You ask hundreds of questions (and usually remember the answers) and want to know about everything. More recently, you want to read every street sign.

One of the nicest things that has been happening over the past few months, is your attitude towards your brother. JP wants to do everything you do and go everywhere you do. He smiles whenever he sees you and giggles at you constantly. We always tell you that JP loves you so much and we know you love him too. As you both get older, JP’s understanding increases, as does your patience. The times of peaceful play are increasing and I look forward to years of fun and games!

It’s been a long and exhausting year. You can be bossy, demanding, uncooperative, overly dramatic, and incredibly trying. There are days I wish for solitude. Thankfully, your intelligent questions, proclamations of love, impish grins, twinkling eyes, amazing imagination, great stories, and adorably scrawny body make the annoyances seem less…annoying! I love how you call me mama and hold my hand when we walk down the street.

Over the past four years, there hasn’t been a day where I’ve regretted becoming a mother. You make life so difficult sometimes but you also make life wonderful. I’m so very glad you were born!

One Response to “Four Years”

  1. stacy August 31, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    This is lovely, Leah. He will enjoy reading this some day.

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