We are rapidly approaching my son’s 4th birthday and as I spend more and more time reluctantly planning his party (which will be ROBOTS!), I just want to take a step back and remember my son just as he is. No sugar coating. Just him.
James L. Dennis has written a fantastic article entitled, “The Thorny Child” (published in the Western Journal of Medicine HERE) which describes children as they pass from age to age. For age 4, he writes:
“The four year old presents one of the difficult ages with behavior characterized by hitting, biting, throwing rocks, breaking toys and running away. He alternates laughter with rage and frequently shocks his mother with very bad language. He is not cowed by maternal threats of punishment but is defiant, swaggering and boastful. He may not distinguish between facts and fiction and frequently finds the latter more interesting. Because he is out of bounds in all directions, the management of the 4-year-old is dependent on firm discipline: Limits must be set; lines must be drawn and adhered to.”
Luckily we aren’t experiencing all these (yet?) but I do see a definite description of my son in there. At almost-4, I’d safely say we are experiencing about 70% of the behavior listed in that paragraph. Add to that the lack of sleep he’s experiencing due to bad dreams (what was that about distinguishing between facts and fiction?!), and we’ve got a double whammy.
As “thorny” as this age is, though, he has other characteristics that I’d also like to remember (mind you this list is not exhaustive in the least, just things that are quickly coming to mind as I type)…
He is funny.
He asks if it’s my day to volunteer every time he goes to preschool.
He LOVES to snuggle, hug, kiss and cuddle (something he didn’t love as a baby, believe it or not).
He can be so sweet to his sister.
He still lets me kiss him in front of his friends.
He does things in his own time and in his own way.
He’s cautious in his risk taking, yet he’s becoming increasingly more independent every day.
He loves to read (either pretending to read by himself, or with me and/or his dad).
He loves to learn new things.
He can throw an awesome spiral.
He thrives on routine.
He likes to use his mind and his hands.
He will share an entire cucumber and/or pint of blueberries with me in one sitting.
He is so quick to forgive me in my shortcomings as a mother.
He loves unconditionally.
I am looking forward to this year with my “thorny child” and can’t wait to see what we teach each other along the way.
I’m also looking forward to year five, which Dr. Dennis describes as, “… a good age, as parents observe with a sigh; but it doesn’t last.”
Happy early birthday to my boy. I love him with all my heart; just as he is.