You’re four. That’s a game changer.
I’m not really sure why, but four has always been different than two, or three. It’s the age where you’re definitively a kid. A KID! No longer a baby. It’s the age when you pull away into independence more than before, and it’s appropriate for you to do so. It’s also the age when I struggle between being exasperated by your toddler-like tendencies while also wanting to pull you in and hold on to the baby I’ve been used to.
You had some great milestones this year. Your moods, though still unpredictable at times, came with words! We could talk and, every now and then, reason our way through them. Your imagination exploded. There were so many times when I wished I could get in your head to see what world you were living in. No doubt, a world full of dragons, vikings, and the occasional octopus and alligator. You became more generous with your smile, and you learned how to work it. That, and your tears. You love to draw! My goodness, the collage of drawings we have up on your wall shows the progression of your drawing skills and I’m astounded because it’s a glimpse into your imagination. You go to the bathroom on your own. Sometimes you shout over your shoulder, “When I’m done I need you to come so you can wipe my BUTT.” Always an emphasis on the ‘BUTT’. My favorite part is how you never manage to pull your pants up straight so they’re always at different degrees of crookedness. It’s endearing.
This year, you’ve also learned to become quite the funny guy. If you can get over your awkwardness in front of strangers (don’t we all) I think you might have a successful career in theatre or stand-up comedy. However, I have to admit, it’s your awkwardness that makes you so charming and hilarious. You have a way with words, though you have yet to learn the power of them. I hope that we can instill in you the confidence to own your words and then let them out in the world.
I feel like turning four is going to be like being on the cusp of many things for you. Recently, you learned how to swim – but just a little bit. You were so proud. Your interests are starting to expand beyond dragons (inconceivable!). You enjoy having long conversations with us. And you find every way possible to stretch out bedtime (you’re winning). I think you’re starting to get it. I’m not sure what “getting it” entails, but I just have a hunch that, soon, the dots are going to connect and my mind is going to explode.
We had some big transitions this year and you took it all in stride. There were days when I can understand how tough it is to be three. I know there will be days when it’s tough to be four. Often times, I think you have layers of complexity that you’re still trying to sort through. Some people call kids like you “spirited.” I say, better now than when you’re 30.
The hardest part for me this year has been accepting my name change. At some point, you started calling me “mom” instead of “mommy.” (You pronounce it “mo-ohm.”) I’m not okay with that. Really, I’m not. For the last four months, I’ve tried to get you to call me mommy again. The way you say mo-ohm, it’s just too grown up. I’m not ready for it. And now I’m wondering how much longer I’m going to try to correct you before I accept it.
This morning, you came into my room, clutching your beloved froggy blanket, eyes still puffy from sleep, and I greeted you with, “Happy birthday!” You looked yourself up and and down and said, “Mo-ohm, am I big?”
Well, you’re four. Four is a game changer.
Happy birthday, Kien.