On your birthday, you explained exactly what I should expect from a 4-year old:
“4-year olds are big boys. They don’t hit, or whine, or kick, or talk back, or have a bad attitude.”
I had my doubts. After all, you’d spent the months leading up to age 4 testing almost all of the above… lapsing into defiant stand-offs that involve my carrying your thrashing body back to your room for time alone. Perhaps all of this effort wore you out? Because honestly, so far, the reality of you at age 4 has been closer to your prediction (outlined above) than mine (continuing increase in maddening defying behavior and tantrums). I remain skeptical of a complete transformation but am happy to be in this place while it lasts.
One of the things I am enjoying most about you is that you love art projects. Ever since “Miss Georgia” came from the Bead Shop to teach you to make earrings, you’ve been begging to make jewelry. I am not sure you appreciate how incredible happy it makes me to hear you ask to do art and craft projects and I am doing my best to take it all in stride, lest you realize the power the request has over me. After we put Kate to bed, you and I share an hour each night doing these projects together. We paint, make jewelry, draw, make ornaments, and string Mardi Gras beads into garland for the Christmas tree.
This last activity was what we were up to when you sailed from the stool where you were perched holding beads, hitting the wooden armrest of the sofa on the way down. Rather than climb down (as you’ve done many times from this same stool you sit on regularly to play pinball), you decided to jump at an angle, as if to land next to the bag of beads. I saw the blood before you did, seeping out from between your fingers as you covered your eye. That sight — you holding your hand over your eye, screaming out while blood began to pour — definitely aged me as I considered the possibility of a serious eye injury. For the record, you only cried for a short minute. Either due to my immediate response, cradling you in my arms and speaking softly and quietly to calm you, or because you are like your sister and have a diamond-clad head. We were all very thankful to see that you missed injuring your eye, bursting open the tissue in your eyebrow instead. We are also very thankful that we had you fixed by a doctor, as the location and depth of your wound made a level of complication that we could not have addressed. Now you have one purple eyebrow patch over your right eye, making folks suggest you’re sporting a Drew Brees look. (Believe it or not, I still don’t have a picture of the injury. Coming soon, though.)
Speaking of right and left. You have begun to master these directional specifics. Although you are committed to getting them backwards. I explained how you use your fingers to make an “L” for left, but realize this is a mute point since you are similarly committed to writing letters backward.
Kate remains your biggest fan and your biggest bully. Rarely does a day go by when she hasn’t clobbered you with something. We are working hard on reigning her in, showing you that the behavior is no way tolerated, reminding you of how we all have to work together to teach her how to treat others. Still, we realize that what really needs to happen is for you to just clobber her back. Of course we will never suggest this, and if you were to take up such a position we’d correct you accordingly with much displeasure. But we think that a little dose of her own medicine would help her learn a bit faster.Despite the regular beatings, you adore your sister. At least, when she’s not playing with the toy you Just Had or taking apart the train track you Just Fixed or pushing the truck you Just Took Down or banging on the drum too loud when you Just Want To Play Guitar. All of these things are major offenses in your book and cause for incredible whining. In general, we are supportive of your arguments of injustice but the truth is that we have a hard time caring that much about it. If your Dad and I have learned anything about parenting, we have learned that parents don’t want justice, we want QUIET.In the face of our resolution that you Work It Out, you have actually begun to find ways to play with your sister for extended periods of time (i.e.: longer than 1 minute). Like the other morning, when your Dad was in the hospital and I was alone with you two, trying to get dressed in the back of the house. I could hear you, laughing and playing together up front. I was so proud, almost not believing that your playtime had gone so long without either one of you breaking the mood with an ear-splitting wail. When I finished and went to retrieve you both, I found that you were bonding over art — happily planting stickers all over your rocking chairs and supplementing the colorful menagerie with marker ink. This is now a common theme: that you and Kate find an uncanny comradery when the two of you are doing something you are not suppose to be doing.
In your 4-year check-up, you got FOUR injections. Two in each arm. You spent two days talking about how you were going to “get shots” from the doctor, so much that you seemed excited about it. When the moment came, you hesitated and then started to stutter: “B..b…but I d.. d.. don’t like to get POKED!” By the time you got out “poked,” Dr. Oates was done with two of the shots and you had an alligator tear pouring down your cheek. Aside from the time a nurse failed to hold your leg, causing you to kick and the needle to tear into the tissue of your thigh, this was the only time you’ve cried tears for an immunization. The good news is that you’re now immunized for just about everything we can immunize you for — so it will be awhile before you have to endure another poke.
At the same visit, you had the following stats:
Weight: 36 pounds, 7 ounces (75%)
Height: 42 1/5″ (90%)
These were very exciting numbers because it means you’re tall enough to ride most of the rides at Disney World. It also shows that you are actually thickening up; we’ve had to loosen the waist adjustment on your pants in order for you to button them up. Finally — eating Granna’s pie with PapPap (read: 16 ounces of whipped cream with each ounce of pie) is working to fill you in.
Each night, we still sing our songs. “Feed the Birds” remains the favorite. But when you’re truly ready for bed, you request “Stay Awake,” and sing the first few words with me before falling quiet. Like in the movie, you close your eyes in the middle and by the end, are asleep.