When my daughter turned four, she had a big party at an indoor inflatables place she chose herself with all her longtime friends. Looking back at photos from that party now, she looked like such a big girl. And she was!
She could sit and do a craft from start to finish. She could carry on a conversation. She had mostly outgrown her toddler tantrums because she could articulate her feelings reasonably well. She could understand compromise, and she could negotiate.
The little mister, on the other hand, is a big ball of energy with no place to put it. He loves to launch himself onto the couch... onto beds... onto us. He's happiest when he's flying through the air, about to land on a heap of pillows. Sometimes we play a game called punching machine because it took him so long to stop hitting I thought maybe it would help if there was a time it was okay to hit.
He's also loving in his own fierce way, standing up for his sister when he thinks our disciplining of her is off base and running in for full contact hugs that would probably knock me over if he was any bigger. He adores the small circle of people he's close to and is so happy when he can tell his papa "I didn't be bad today!" And speaking as someone who is very biased, he's adventurous, funny, and clever, too.
But as time passes, I've started to realize that he's not going to mellow out, get cuddly, become a team player, enjoy group activities, or be more open to compromise any time soon. He'll grow up someday just like the rest of us, but someday doesn't appear to be just around the corner.
Right now he's the most hard headed person I've ever met in my entire life. More often than not he'd rather win the fight than get his way, so compromise? Is all but impossible. We keep trying because one of these days he'll get the idea, but until then it's such a bummer to watch him lose out on 100% because he's not willing to settle for 90.
Tonight was one of those nights where the mister and I were at peak frustration telling the little mister exactly what he needed to do to get what he wanted while he let us know, loudly, that he wasn't going to do it and that we were stupid and furthermore we needed to stop talking to him.
We all got past that moment and could breathe again, but that only lasted until after dessert when he lost his chance at a fun Sunday extra because he wasn't getting ready for bed. He knew that's what he needed to do but he wanted to jump around and be crazy and still get the extra. And then I didn't handle his new outbursts very well and was on top of that so angry that I refused to read him a story.
By the time I'd calmed down, he was asleep, and I was left thinking "What the heck, kid? Why do you have to make everything so complicated?"
I don't really know what's going on in that head of his, frankly. My daughter was kinder, gentler, more even keeled and altogether easier to figure out most of the time. With the little mister, everything seems great until it isn't and then God be with you if you don't figure out what is up fast enough.
Sometimes I think about what it will be like when I have to send him to school. Or if he decides he wants to play a sport or do pretty much any other organized activity that requires listening to a grownup's tell you what to do without losing your shit.
And tomorrow this lightning bolt of a human being will be four.
I love him so much but I tell you what he drives me absolutely bananas at least once a day. Sometimes when he's especially crazy or bad he reminds me of his Uncle Dean and his Uncle Michael when they were little (for different reasons and sorry guys but it's true) - then at least I can laugh and say, well, my dad made it through and so will I.