Four

16 Nov

When you’re pregnant, people warn you about how hard it is with a newborn – how you’ll get no sleep, be exhausted all the time, etc. Then you’re warned about when they start walking and how they’re into everything. Then people tell you to “just wait” for the terrible twos. Then some people will swear that three is much worse than two.

But to the best of my recollection, no one ever warned me about four. Four has been mostly wonderful. Nolan is a fantastic kid. He is sweet, thoughtful, smart, and inquisitive. He loves his little sister to pieces and dotes on her.  His parent-teacher conference went well – he is right on track and learning a lot. The only “negative” was that he has trouble sitting still during circle time. His teacher said she doesn’t think it’s an ADD issue or anything, he is just the kind of child who likes to move. Oh, and that he doesn’t like to pick up toys. I was less than surprised by that statement, given the state of our playroom. He excels at every sport he has tried, which in his four short years is quite a lot – hockey, soccer, t-ball, and swimming. I am so very proud of him.

But … oh, my. The last month or so has been very rough. He wants to argue about everything, even something that he already knows the answer to. He tries to bargain and talk his way out of everything, even that which he knows are steadfast, unbreakable rules in our house. I have caught him lying. He has done things that intentionally upset his sister. He whines like the biggest whine whiney McWhinerson WHO EVER EXISTED.

It has been … difficult. I feel like to get him to do anything I have to ask nicely three times and then, when I finally lose my patience, I have to yell at him. He cries, but then he does what I asked. It’s frustrating for both of us and it makes me feel like a terrible mom. I’ve tried to talk to him about this rationally – about how I understand it’s frustrating that he is always expected to do what we ask, even when he doesn’t like it. I’ve tried to tell him that I understand that not everything we ask him to do is fun, but that we ask him those things because we know what’s best for him and what will keep him safe.

The worrier and catastrophist in me is imagining that there is something wrong – that he’s upset about something, or it’s a behavioral issue that needs to be worked out. But the logic in me tells me that he’s simply pushing boundaries – he’s figured out that if he whines and carries on enough, sometimes I’m so tired that I just give in. I think he wants to find out what he can control and what he can manipulate.

But even though I understand the why, it doesn’t make it any easier. It still sucks that I’ve been dreading picking him up from school because thinking about fighting with him all evening exhausts me. I want to help him – but I mostly, selfishly, want it to stop.

Has anyone else experienced “Fierce Fours”?

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