This summer my baby, John David, turned FOUR. He was quite pleased with himself.
Was I sad that my last baby is not so much a baby anymore? Well, no, not really because I have babied the stew out of him. Basically, he still looks like a baby to me, so it hasn’t hit me yet.
It was completely different when my oldest child, 7 years ago, turned 4 years old.
I wasn’t the least bit sad. I was ecstatic!! For some reason, I saw 4 as this magical hump of parenting where Joshua was going to magically be a big kid.
The push was on. Joshua was constantly pushed towards independence and accomplishments. Soccer team started at age 3. T-ball started the minute he was old enough to participate. He was drilled on academics constantly, and we read him about 15 books/day, not even exaggerating.
I would say things to him like, “Joshua, watch Caleb for a minute while I go in yonder. You’re in charge.”
Even at the time, I knew Joshua wasn’t able to help me with Caleb much. That’s just what I said, and yet, he did seem to actually help with Caleb (who is only 20 months younger than Joshua).
When Joshua would want to be carried or babied, I didn’t understand at all. Wasn’t he supposed to be more grown up? He was my biggest, my oldest, and I had little patience for much shenanigans. Walk child, walk.
Well, you may be feeling sorry for that first-born 4-year-old, and I do too in hindsight, but don’t spend too much time on it.
He’s doing swell. He is now the kind of pre-teen who is confident enough to go into the gas station, escorting a little brother, and pick out a drink and pay for it. When we lived on base, he could even ride his bike to the mini-mart, buy bread for me, and bring it home.
He can make his own meals, so long as it just involves the microwave or an apple core-er, and he can fix his brothers’ meals too.
It is pretty awesome to have that (sometimes) responsible, independent oldest son. Plus, he looks about 13, so no one ever questions his competence level to do these things. It’s working out well so far– no permanent damage done, hopefully.
And John David is sort of the opposite…..
I don’t push at all. Nope not at all. I still put his socks and shoes on him, “wipe him up”, and he never has to “keep his brother out of trouble” because he has no little brother.
He is my little velcro to the side of my leg, and I eat it up. And he eats it up. No one seems to question the fact that this is my giant baby.
But you know what? He’s going to be fine too. I’m sure of it.
He can put his shoes on himself when he wants to, and he wipes before I wipe. Mostly, I’ve let him lead on these steps—except I did have to resort to bribery “rewards” for the wiping.
Don’t despair. This 4-year-old has many talents too.
John David is a fast learner. He can color for hours without getting tired of it. JD knows all of his letters and the sounds they make. Oh! And he loves helping me with chores!! You gotta love that!!!
Yes, I’ve babied him, but I’m hoping all will turn out well. He does know about love, discipline, and consequences. He’s super sweet and is always doing kind things for his momma.
In fact, he often prays at night, “Thank you for Mom. Thank you for Mom. Thank you for Mom.”
I’m such a sucker for that.
John David still often cuddles up in my lap and sleeps. I love it. I’m holding on to that as long as I can.
A few weeks ago, John David started K4. He was hesitant, but he went. Then they started morning drop-off for the 4-year-olds.
I pulled up to the curb where 2 pre-school teachers, and thankfully JD knows both of them, were standing to assist the 4-year-olds in getting out of their car and into the building. John David didn’t fully grasp what was going on, so he got out. They walked him to the building, and he had to walk to his classroom by himself.
The next day I pulled back up to the curb, and John David quickly entered panic-mode.
“What! No, Mom, you walk me in. You walk me in. You walk me in.” John David repeated over and over as he backed away into a corner as far as could get from the teachers and the open van door.
Time to throw in the proverbial towel.
“Got it. Ok. I got it. I’ll walk him in. I’ll walk him in. JD, sit back down in your seat, and we’ll park, and I’ll walk you in.”
I asked John David later on if he had been scared walking to class by himself that day. He looked at me with the most pitiful face, and with a shaky little voice, nodded and whispered, “I almost cried.”
Well, that did it for me. I decided right then and there that this child will be personally escorted to his K-4 classroom every single day until he asks me himself to do otherwise!!
I promise we carried our other 4-year-olds around a little bit too.
Yes, we are more relaxed with our youngest child, but not more lenient. I think we might even be more strict, just less worried about him doing what he’s “supposed to do”. As long as he’s obeying and being respectful, we’re good, and that’s a work in progress for ALL of us.
Okay. Well, we do let him sit on the table to paint and build Lego creations, so maybe we are more lenient in all areas except the ones above, which we deem as most important.
And yes, we bought him 5 Batman t-shirts and let him wear only Batman shirts every single day for a YEAR……
Is that so bad? Nah. I’m going with no.
Four is an awesome age. We are so lucky to get to do it one more time!
P.S. The year of Batman is over. He has informed us that he wants no more Batman toys, books, or shirts. He only wants Ninjago stuff now, because all obsessive people occasionally need something NEW to obsess over…let’s move on to ninjas.