Saturday, March 24, 2012

You are four years old

And how can I encapsulate you in one little blog entry? Well, I can't, of course. But what has struck me lately about who you are, and what will you want to know in twenty years' time?

Probably this: You are incredibly smart. I'm making an effort not to praise you just for being smart, but rather for working hard, overcoming challenges, solving problems, etc. Because you can't help being smart, and you're not doing anything in particular to be smart, you just are that. It would be like praising you for having a wee nose. But it's so apparent to everyone we meet that your intelligence gets commented on, and praised, a whole lot.

How does it come out? Well, your speech is phenomenal. Not that you don't still usually gloss over your Ls, but rather, there are a few other things. First, your vocabulary is staggering. You'll toss words like "phenomenal" into everyday speech. But your speech patterns are interesting, too. You're quick to catch on to idioms, turns of phrase, and all the little ways we wind clauses and phrases together. Your speech can tend to sound very adult because of it.

Another way your intelligence comes out is in your reasoning. You can try to argue down anyone, for any reason, on any topic. It's not always perfect logic, but it's enough to give us all a hint that in a few years, you're going to be scary.

You love learning, too. You spell things, listen to spellings and sound out the words, and invent spellings for things you don't know. "D-A-M-E-N!" you proudly announced the other day. Damien is your friend in school, and though you hadn't got it exactly right, it was good enough for me to know what you meant. Daddy woke you up the other night when he jostled you, and in your sleep, you murmured, "B-O-D-C-O-A." You also told me a few days ago, "I love you more than I love science, and I love science this much!" and you spread your arms wide.

What else? You are interested in books that are written for older kids. In the last few weeks, we've read two Harry Potter books and Roald Dahl's Mathilda. And you get somewhat obsessed. I've been speaking in an English accent for weeks, because if I stop, you'll remind me, "We're pretending! You're Ron, and I'm Hermione."

You will eat nearly anything. I'm so proud that you're a good eater, and I have to hold my tongue sometimes when other parents complain that their kids won't eat vegetables. I made a canellini bean, sweet potato and chard casserole last week, and you ate all your portion, exclaiming that it was the best thing I'd ever made. Of course, your favorite is sweets, and we have to limit those. If there's candy around, you'll find it and unwrap it, then laugh as you show me you're eating it. I nearly lost my cool today: I had baked the chocolate cake for your birthday, and when I briefly left the room, I saw that you had nicked a small piece from one of the layers.

You have recently decided that you hate pink and love only purple and teal, although you still dress yourself in pink when you have the option to choose your clothes. You actually are doing a lot more on your own lately -- taking off your Pull-up after bed, taking your jammies off, choosing your outfit and putting it on, getting your shoes on... And you have chores. We ask you to take your laundry to the washer, to put your books away in your room, to wipe the table after dinner, and now, to vacuum the living room rug. You actually seem happy and proud to help. I think it makes you feel grown-up.

You are capable of being very sweet. You love to cuddle, and even if you and I are doing different activities, say, if I'm on the computer and you're watching TV, you like to sit on my lap. You are working hard on using your manners and asking for things politely, although it's still a bit of a struggle.

And there are challenges, too. From the moment I could feel you kicking at about 4 months along, I knew you were more active and energetic than most kids. It is... noticeable. You really never slow down. A fellow preschooler's mom was kind enough to call you "kinetic" the other day. And there are times that you will talk nearly nonstop. And you are not so much a limit-tester as a boundary-knocker-downer and see what happens. If there is a limit, you won't simply test it, but hammer at it, sand-blast it, double-check it for faults, move it while we're not looking, and pole-vault over it and back. You have never heard "no" that you didn't come back with, "Well, actually..." or "what if...?" And you are a born negotiator. "I'll cuddle for five more minutes, but then I have to get up," I might say. You have never said, "Okay." Your answer is, "Firteen minutes!"

I love you dearly, and I wouldn't change a hair on your head for a million dollars, but you are a little exhausting sometimes.

Right now you are sleeping, curled up next to Dad, surely far over into his territory in the bed. Soon I'll move you to yours, and you'll probably sleep through the night. That's been true more often than not lately, and I'm appreciative of it. Your potty habits are getting much more regulated, and much more your responsibility. In terms of actual caring for you, there's not that much to do anymore -- you get the food to your mouth, dress yourself (sometimes multiple times per day), go to the bathroom -- but instructing you in life is another matter. Those conversations are harder and more serious every day, and I only hope I'm doing it right.

I love you very much,

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