Friday, June 10, 2011

The Fearsome Fours

I’ve heard new moms quip that “three is the new two”—and it’s true, three-year-olds can dish out tantrums and power struggles that make the twos look positively angelic by comparison. But really, from my standpoint, the threes have nothing on the fours. The whining, the back talk, the sulking! So I’d like to propose an amendment to the saying du jour: I think four is really the new two.

What makes four so tough, I think, is that they’re really like little teenagers. Some parts of their development haven’t caught up with others. Their little minds seem to go non-stop and they spit out questions with alarming speed. They have overwhelming feelings and opinions that they can’t always articulate. And they’re increasingly conscious of the big, unfair, sometimes scary world they live in.

At four-and-a-half, Bianca is acutely aware of HER own needs, wants, and feelings, but she hasn’t yet learned to appreciate the feelings of others. It’s exhausting—some days, it seems like all we do is discipline, guide, redirect, comfort, reason, explain, answer, and repeat. Over and over again.

On the upside, four-year-olds can be insanely endearing. B makes tents for her sister. She treats the cats like her babies. She can help make dinner and clear her plate from the table afterward. She’s 100 % responsible for dressing herself and she usually does an amazing, if colorful, job. (I’ve been told she’s a “fashion icon.” She doesn’t get it from me!) Her understanding of the physical world is impressive, but still naïve enough to be adorable. Case in point: the other day she said, “Mom, please unbutton my dress. But don’t unbutton my belly button.”

So we’re halfway through the fearsome fours. I’ve heard five is better—is that when empathy arrives? Anyone have tips for dealing with this super-adorable, super-trying age?

B's had a big case of birthday fever, so I made her a cake for her half birthday this week.

Mia: our four-year-old in training.


Amy said...

Totally agree... 3 was harder than 2, and 4 topped them all! Sophia turned 5 last week so I'm excited for what's to come. :o) Griffin, 2, had his biggest tantrum yet today. Really all I could do was laugh (from the other room). It's so much easier to deal with a 2 year old's tantrums, than a 4 year old's.

Malia said...

Amy, I know! Mia tries to throw a little tantrum now and then, and I just giggle. It's actually cute when they're little!

Abby said...

"Don't unbutton my belly button." Love it! I don't know anymore; I used to think there was something to the "Terrible 2's," etc. Then someone told me about the "F*ing 4's" Yikes! I think there are easy and hard things about every age. That's what makes parenthood such a challenge! There does seem to be a consensus that 5's the golden age, though... Hang in there!

Malia said...

Abby, I agree--definitely easy and hard things at every age. Someone told me that 2 would be full of highs and lows, but 2 was great here! So 4 has been a surprise. But it's getting better, now that we've turned the corner toward 5.