four fingers

Four years old sounds impossible. I thought he would always be my baby, that somehow time would slow down and it would last and last and last. That kind of goes hand in hand with my recent post about our family of four. I admittedly wanted to both hang onto my snugly hip baby and push through the challenges of reflux and all the other not so fun stuff.        

This year is hitting me pretty hard. I'm not going to be a mom to "two small children" anymore and that seems impossible. Steve and I turned 35 last year, but the kids' birthdays seem to be more of a milestone somehow. Four sounds so much bigger than three. I always tell parents, "it isn't two that you should worry about, it's three."            

Reflecting on the year, yes, three was certainly more challenging than two. We learned that Connor has a fierce temper. He is big into refusal with a stubborn streak that rivals only his father's. He refuses to clean, go to bed, or come to the table for dinner. This was the year of the marble. We instituted the marble jar this year to reward good behavior and reinforce that not so good decisions and behavior will not be tolerated. He didn't exactly get it when we started, but I realized this week he is very motivated for that trip to our tiny local book store and will CONSIDER cleaning up for a marble. Caroline understands it more and will spontaneously decide to "help" clean dishes, make dinner, set the table for a small handful of marbles. She is setting a good example, but so far he isn't drinking the kool aid. They both learned that it is their combined effort to do the right thing that will get the jar full. She knows better than him that he can lose marbles for losing his mind and she can gain them back by supporting his recovery from whatever unjust thing has caused his epic tantrum. 

His drop offs at school leave me sad most days. His smile disappears the moment we turn into the parking lot.  He stares at me with sad scared eyes as I remove his coat and clings to me as we head to the door. There was a small window of time when he used to push me out in the morning, but most days I need to literally remove him from my person to get out the door. My parting gift is the sound of his cry all the way down the hall to the exit. We will get through it, this is a phase like all things, but it does nothing to get me through it now. Just this week I started offering thee marbles for a good drop off and it is working! We are on a streak! He asks each morning barely awake, "is it a school day?" and the best day is the day I get to say "no."

In as many ways as he challenged us this year, he was an absolute joy. We are a diaper free house (except for the just in case bedtime pull up). That in itself is a huge accomplishment! He loves super heroes, especially Iron Man, Hulk, and Spider Man. He is not very open to things that require sitting and focusing, but when he does he enjoys puzzles, setting up his army guys or his football players, and board games. He may be the only kid I know who prefers the chutes in chutes in ladders.

When I can get him to color he is now choosing appropriate colors and though it is all I can do to get him to color, he loves reusable sticker pages and putting animals in the proper habitat. He delights in choosing an animal he knows is wrong just to get us to react. He loves anything rescue related (fire, police) and anything that goes. He plays with Legos for hours and can independently set up his playmobil sets to have pirates stealing treasure or the animals on the farm getting all they need to eat. He asks for popcorn when we watch movies and we have reached the point where they do not agree on movie choices. Epic negotiations are required to secure watch time for Cars or Planes. His sister is still his best friend, but he doesn't always follow along with what she wants to do anymore. He is happy to do his own thing and that has been a real adjustment.

He is funny. Like most boys his age, he takes every opportunity to embrace potty humor. He catches lines in movies and uses them in his daily life. Steve the monkey from "cloudy with a chance of meatballs" and his love of gummy bears are a daily part of our life in our house. When Connor gets excited about something, he will yell "gummy bears!!"

"Mulan" is a more recent hit over here and he frequently shouts Mishu's line exactly like this. 

He loves sharing the best part of his day at dinner, but hates washing his hands. He does not like macaroni and cheese, but can often be found rummaging through the snack drawer for a juice box, granola bar, or piece of dried mango. He insists that I bring a snack for him to eat on the way home from school, but reacts poorly no matter I tell him is for dinner, even his favorite thing gets a negative reaction. He loves sports, but is just as likely to beg to use the lint roller on the couch as kick a ball. He loves to toss a football in the air and race to catch it in a scary diving gonna break his teeth kind of way. He still watches sports with Steve, but seems to understand them better now. He recently asked Steve, "do we want the Cats to win?" during a Carolina Panthers game. He loves the Bruins, but refuses to learn to skate with a group of his peers. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years he was content to set up a net in the driveway and have his sister take shots on him. We found him awake the other night reading the back page of a BC football program. He was studying the hand signals cheat sheet intently. He is the sweetest little boy, with a mischievous side. He recently figured out how to work the remote and we heard his happy whoop all the way down the hall in the kitchen. He is amazing and wonderful and challenging all rolled together into a ball of Connor and today we celebrate his day. Happy Birthday, best boy.



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