On May 10 I Am FOUR
What I read to escape the mountains of boxes

I love you a hundred times, Mommy

Everything is so much better. SO MUCH BETTER. For all my insisting that I am a happily misanthropic introvert, I have CRAVED my people. We had friends over yesterday morning, friends over in the evening, and friends over again tonight, who brought pizza and ice cream and sang happy birthday to Jack. Suddenly all is well with my soul.

And four. I'm not sure if we just have so much going on or what, but Four has yet to feel like, well, Three. Or Two. Oh gosh, Two was huge. Two made me sad for DAYS. I want my shorties to stay short, you know, and Four is just that much closer to Five, which means Kindergarten which means the end of staying home with mommy. Perhaps I will be bawling into my breakfast cereal next May 10, but this one was all right. Jack just SEEMS four. He's seemed four for a while. It was kind of like, "Oh finally, now I can just SAY four instead of ALMOST four."

I also happen to think he's a fabulously interesting four-year-old, well, when he's not tormenting his sister or demanding a ninety-seventh episode of Busytown. He started doing all kinds of weird stuff this year, like speaking gibberish. This I don't particularly enjoy, but I do kind of get a kick out of watching him make up his words. I can practically see the gears churning. And it's not PURE gibberish, it's gibberish tacked onto the end of a fully intelligible sentence, the point being that he is the most hilarious person in the world.

"What do you want for lunch, Jack? A cheese sandwich?"

"How about a... flippyginga sandwich?"

CUE UPROARIOUS LAUGHTER. (Not from me.)

I don't know whether it's a function of age or preschool or both, but he's no longer the insta-crybaby he was during playdates, when the girls always pushed him around. He's become fairly articulate, with a syntax and rythym I wish I could bottle up. He still doesn't obviously prefer one kind of toy or play over another, but he can turn a box into anything, he plays pretend preschool, pretend house, pretend hiding-from-mommy-robot. He loves those Trio blocks, his teddy bear Jerry, and books about deep sea creatures and the human body. He's never been that interested in reading or story books, but he's memorized the name of every fish and shark and shrimp from one of his ocean books. I'm getting awfully tired of hearing about Portuguese man-of-wars. (But not hearing him SAY Portuguese man-of-war.)

I see bits of myself in him. A smidge of anal retentiveness, when he notices something is out of place or missing. An insistence on a certain order. A memory that gloms on to every detail, and confuses him when something is different. An anxiousness about family, about change. Maybe this is typical little kidness, maybe Molly just isn't there yet, but I recognize it and I worry that I've passed on my more unfortunate parts. But then I also appreciate these things in him, in the weird way that I appreciate them in myself. A sensitivity to details isn't such a bad thing.

He harasses his sister constantly. He breathes on her, touches her, does just about anything to purposefully invade her personal space and OH do I remember my own brother harassing me. It makes me furious. It also makes me tired. I find myself saying the thing I swore I'd never say: Just ignore him.

And he won't just go along with anything. Talking with Jack is an exercise in debate, negotiation. Sometimes I feel like I'm in arbitration. People say you should give your kid choices, let him choose, this is empowering, but it's never worked with Jack, who will always come up with a third choice. Sometimes we call him Senator Jack, in awe of his ability to deny, avoid, harp upon, dig in, reroute your line of thinking.

But right when you've absolutely had it, he throws his arms around your neck and kisses you and tells you he loves you. He's SO good at this. Like everything else he does, there's a system and routine and certain WAY of showing his affection, but he'll show it in spades. Like tonight, high on ice cream and friends and special birthday phone calls, he tells me I'm the best Mommy and he loves me a hundred times. I'd say I love him a KAFRILLION times, but then we'd have to talk about what a kafrillion is and have I mentioned the anal bear trap-ish mind? Yeah. We'll just leave it at Four: Fairly Awesome.

Comments

Carrie

Happy birthday, Jack!! I hope 4 is a marvelous age for you and for your family :) Big hugs coming your direction.

Heather

Happy Birthday Jack!!

Four is an awesome age, enjoy it. I see some of my (not better) traits in my middle child, and I just hope that he can handle them.

Sarah in Ottawa

Hooray for FOUR!

It's funny - Teddy has that touch of anal retentiveness, but he most assuredly DOES NOT get it from me. It's from my Mom and Nonna and it's HILARIOUS to see him making sure that all the drawers are aligned correctly, etc. All the men on my Mom's side have this trait (all 3 of them) so it's fun to watch. Maybe HE'LL be cleaner around here when he gets older? Does Jack help you?

Also - I MISSED YOU! Am so glad that you are back to your usual prolific posting.

Christina

Aw.
That was a really good post that you'll look back on with tears in your eyes for years and years. Being a mom isn't easy, but it's definitely the best job in the world.

Christiana

Happy Birthday, Jackers!
Man, I was hoping 4 was going to be the year-of-the-angelic child. My mom said she considered giving me away at 3 and that 4 was better. Here's hoping my daughter takes after me. I'm not sure I'm going to survive 3.

HereWeGoAJen

I've heard that four is a good year. :)

Happy birthday, Jack!

Jen

Ah yes, the "give them a choice" trick. My son is two, and he also has never fallen for it. Typical example from yesterday:

Me: So, do you want to wear the blue shirt or the grey shirt?

Him: No! No shirt!

Sounds like I shouldn't expect this to change anytime soon...

Amusingly, he even negotiates when he doesn't quite know what he is doing. So when we tell him that it will be bedtime in "5 minutes," he often responds with, "No! 2 minutes!"

Lisa

Happy birthday to Jack! How fast they grow and change.

katie

Love that Jack talks gibberish! Jo has started "spelling words" - a string of random letters that she wants me to tell her what it means.
Wonderful to hear you had such a memorable day celebrating Jack's birthday.

-R-

This is a great post about Jack. Yay, four!

And I'm glad you had a chance to hang out with friends.

Amanda

That is awesome! Kids are so cool!

Jessica

So is little kid humor one of those things you may usually find annoying, but is cute when your own kid does it?

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