People talk about these two phases of development pretty regularly.
In my opinion, the terrible twos are due to the fact that their little communication skills are not even remotely close to being fine tuned, which results in easily triggered frustration and tantrums. And lord knows you can’t reason with them.
My theory about the troublesome threes is that they are really just an extension of the terrible twos, but since they are a year older, it’s even less cute.
I was prepared for these. I was ready.
What I wasn’t ready for is the stage that no one tells you about. Until one day, you turn around, and there you are looking at your precious little four year old and you realize… you are now in the Frightening Fours.
So let me tell you a little bit about this stage from my current life with Nora. This is the age where they start learning some of those unpleasant little personality traits that they have, up until now, been too young to grasp in their complexity.
Things like lying. Oh, the lying. Thank goodness Nora isn’t very good at it, because she does it all the time. I despise lying. It’s immediate time out in this house. And it’s tricky because then if she doesn’t lie, I have to find an alternate punishment that still addresses the inappropriate behavior I am calling her out on, but doesn’t punish her for telling the truth. But, seriously, when did she start thinking so elaborately to plan out her actions AND the cover up?
Most of the time I feel like I am talking to myself. She will look me in the eye, I will explain to her why I don’t like a certain behavior and she will turn right around and do it anyway. Then when she gets in trouble for not listening, I get to hear “Mom, you never let me do anything fun.” Oh yes, I forgot, the only fun in this house requires being allowed to climb up the door to the deck, using the trim as a ladder. (Yes, she actually does this.)
We are also entering into the age where things that were “excusable” before are now bratty and rude. And I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the limit testing that is going on right now. I feel like I am constantly working to try to mold this precious little creature into a kind and decent human being. And it is work. The growing pains are testing me in ways I wasn’t quite ready for. The fours… they are rough.
I am slowly beginning to accept the fact that parents never figure it out. We are frantically trying to keep our heads above water, while making our children think we are actually effortlessly floating on top. But, I guess all things worth having are worth working for.
Someone I know recently said that she has enjoyed her daughter at every age she has been. I think this is true. It is so fun watching your children grow and change, even when there are things you don’t like about those stages as well. So four years old. It is a challenge. But there is a lot to love about the age.
Nora has an absolutely incredible imagination, determined independence, and genuine excitement and enjoyment of new things and experiences. She tells me stories she makes up and I can’t believe the thought and detail that goes into them. She is so loving and sweet. She gives great hugs. She dances with abandonment and joy. Nora is so proud of every new accomplishment or difficult task that she manages to master. She loves making new friends and finding out what makes them similar and different. She sings at the top of her lungs. She is creative. She is caring and offers to take care of me and her baby sister when we are hurt or sad. She is accepting of everyone. She is mine.