On my birthday, you turned 4 1/2. You can see 5 on the horizon, kindergarten in your hazy future, but for now, you are right in the thick of 4 and enjoying it all. The emotional tumult of 3 1/2 has finally simmered down a little. You are beginning to be better at recovering from a disappointment, rolling with a change in plans, reasoning through a disagreement.
You are very interested in becoming more independent and forming relationships on your own. After a few weeks of me taking you into school every day, you noticed that some of your classmates were happily walking in on their own, and after watching a few times, you suddenly told me you were going to do that too. You noticed that some of your classmates carpool, and have been so excited the few times you’ve gotten to ride in a new car, too. And the realization that the world was not divided into playdate friends (i.e. the kids of my friends) and school friends, but that school friends could come over for playdates, was earth shattering. So excited have you been to play with school friends outside of school that I’ve had to carefully help you calm it down so you don’t overwhelm them with your puppy dog energy.
You enter every party at full tilt these days, and if you don’t know anyone, you make new friends. You have a wonderful sense of trust that if I have brought you to a place, then everyone there is your buddy. If there are kids, that’s great, if there are no kids, you make a grown up friend instead. Sometimes you take it too far — I’ve had to take you off a few laps of strangers — but mostly it is a lovely trait. You seem at home everywhere you go.
You have very specific ideas and plans about how things should be. You decided very early that you and Zella would be an elephant and zebra for Halloween because E is for Ezra and Elephant and Z is for Zella and Zebra. I mean, duh, what else could you have been. You love watching Busytown Mysteries, and for months determined that you were Huckle and Zella was Sally and I was Hilda and Dada was Lowly Worm. When we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you became Charlie Bucket. When we listened to Little House on the Prairie on CD, you became Mary and Zella was Laura. I called me and Dada “Ma and Pa,” and you reminded me that we were named “Caroline and Charles.”
And once you find your thing for the day or week or month, you are incredibly loyal to it. At the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, you could have watched the Rube Goldberg machine for hours. You slowly worked your way around the whole thing, stopping for long, careful stretches of watching. You find favorite records and listen again and again and again. You put on the same costume every day for weeks. Zella is your greatest fan, and when she sometimes seems calm and focused beyond her years, I am sure that it is because she is learning from you.
Your memory continues to amaze, and sometimes, as when you point to the exact spot on your blanket where you barfed a few nights before Thanksgiving, to disgust. On a class field trip to Didier Farms, you remembered the rides from the year before and immediately got in line for the biggest roller coasters and fastest spins. When you watch Busytown, you can tell me what episodes you want from memory, including episode number, season, and plot outline. You’ve memorized whole books, and within two days of having a few new Frog and Toad books, you can tell me which stories are in which books and in what order.
You are desperate to learn to read. All day I field questions about which letter blends make which sounds. You don’t quite have the thread of sounding out words, though. A few times we’ve tried a series of rhyming words and after I do a few (“H-O-P, hop! T-O-P, top!”) when I ask you to try, you often overcomplicate it (“P-O-P, puh, ah, puh. Puapa!”). But you are never discouraged.
If I could change one thing about you, my darling boy who I love so much, it is that, without fail, when we go on a vacation, you will not go to sleep. You are so excited, having so much fun, and you cannot shut your brain down, and then it’s midnight in Indianapolis and I want to burn down the hotel. I love how easily you jump into the fun of new places, new faces, new friends, new swimming pools. I just want you to learn that the fun is always still there in the morning, and that you and your poor parents both need some rest.
Your ideal day at 4 1/2 seems to be wearing shorts in the house, piling all the couch cushions into a lopsided pile and then jumping on it, seeing some friends, playing crazy 60s folk records on the record player, bingeing on Dinosaur Train, and trying on your new tap shoes.
And then doing it all again tomorrow.
Love and hugs,
Mama (AKA Caroline, Mrs. Pteranadon, Hilda the Hippo)