I have one hour left of having my last three-year-old. Tomorrow – my third child, my Benjamin, will wake up four years old.
The Transition From Age Three to Age Four
The transition from age three to age four struck me hard each time it happened. Since the beginning of the month it hit me – this is my last three-year-old. This is the last time I will watch one my babies turn four.
I started thinking about why the change from three to four is so monumental. Then I realized that SO much happens in those 365 days it is one of the biggest and most life changing times in a child’s life.
Everything I Needed to Learn, I Learned as a Toddler
Between the ages of three and four my kids began school, they became potty trained, they learned how to dress themselves and put their shoes on themselves, they learned how to write their names, they learned how to read their names, they learned the alphabet, they learned how to count, they dropped their naps and could stay up without going ballistic, they learned how to feed themselves, they transitioned out of the crib and into a bed, they could finally pump on a swing, they learned how to put on a DVD, and they learned how to use the TV remote. That’s A LOT!
In short – they learned how to be self-sufficient, self-entertaining little humans.
I know there is a famous line about learning everything one needs to know in kindergarten, but besides driving a car (which he can as long as it’s powered by a 12v battery) he’s got it all down pat – at three feet tall.
Even Big Shots Need Their Mommy’s Help
Three is a funny age – it is an age of “I can do it myself” and an age of “please stay with me and hold my hand.” It is an age that begins with changing a little tush multiple times a day to an age where you’re told to leave the bathroom because they need privacy (often as the bathroom door closes in your face).
It’s an age where you leave this little person who was attached literally and figuratively at your hip and/or to your breast – moments before – in the care of strangers to “learn” whatever a three-year-old learns in school (and also when they come home with THE BEST art projects).
It’s an age where they want to snuggle and snuggle and snuggle and then tell you while grunting (like you’re an idiot) that they only like to eat cereal on Tuesdays with an attitude so strong you don’t want to point out yesterday was – in fact – Thursday. Or that they ate cereal every day last week.
A Four Year Old is a Real Little Person
At this age they can tell delicious elaborate imaginative stories and make up (not at all) funny jokes. They have genuine interest in things and places and can remember stuff you did with them. The relationship evolves from “omg I have to keep this thing alive” to “its fun hanging out with this little person, he likes ducks, I found a cool lake to visit that he will love”.
At this age, my son can finally hold his own against his older brother (6!) and sister (10!) and become more of a playmate than a burden – or whatever the nicer word for “little brother” is in this realm.
But really – they become a little person. They evolve so much and finish off the year as a little person. When I look at my son, I think of being pregnant. Being pregnant and not at all prepared to welcome another child into my home.
Breathe in the Moments
I think of the difficult days of juggling three kids in the beginning and how hard it all was for me. I think about how he was such a good baby and so chill and like a little accessory being carried around wherever I had to go. I think of how nursing him was so special each time because I knew he was my last and it could end at any moment. I think of how sneaking away with him in those moments were just ours and stolen fractions of calm in the storm of our lives.
I think of the funny little boy who tried desperately to jump for so long until one day he was airborne. Or how proud he was the first time he went to the bathroom himself (and how sometimes I still catch him giving himself a chocolate chip and congratulatory speech).
I think about how he has the most warm, sweet smile and lights up a room. I think about his laugh and how he talks like an 85-year-old man or how he mispronounces words and then giggles when we laugh at him.
I think of how he insists on sitting and reading books with his siblings and making up elaborate stories he swears to be reading – that are as far from the text as possible. I think about the hugs he used to give me when I would pick him up from school (remember when kids went to school?) like he had just returned from the war.
But mostly I think of his unlimited hugs and kisses, how he is the best snuggler around, and how he sometimes puts on a watch for the sole purpose of him being able to tell me when it’s “snuggle time”.
We Were Smart to Have a Third Kid Instead of Getting A Dog
People often debate between having a third child or getting a dog. As I mentioned to someone the other day – my third child sits all snuggled up in my lap while I pet his head, loves taking walks AND is potty trained! I am pretty sure I won that argument.
Well, the clock has struck midnight, I now have a four-year-old. Before bed last night, he asked if he would wake up and have really long legs. I cannot wait to find out. Happy 4th birthday, my little Benj.