Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ferocious Fours? Or Forshadowing Fifteen?

So you have a four year old?

Chances are you are banging you head against the wall, floor, or freezer door at least once a day.

Where is the cute alliterative phrase to describe my sweet baby, who has suddenly grown up?

The two's? Yeah, they are terrible, but popular culture and every parenting magazine has prepared me for that since my babies were in utero. I mean the pediatrician's office gives out pamphlets. Where are their pamplets on why my four year old is acting like a fifteen year old? Where? I can't find them filed next to the one on bed wetting or the BRAT diet.

Did I miss a meeting?

I get through the terrible twos by telling myself that the Little Lady is suffering from a slight case of temporary insanity and can't always be held responsible for her actions because, well -- she is two and her brain isn't even close to being fully developed. Does this excuse all her behavior? No, but it is easier to get through a tantrum or two by telling myself that she is stunted mentally (and I mean that in the best way possible).

The Lady on the other hand is four going on fifteen. Sometimes, I think I expect to much from her but it is hard when you can talk to her rationally and her behavior, at times, is anything but rational. I have to remind myself that she too, is a little mental, while at the same time I have to try not to lose my shit.

Four is tough, gone is that little baby you knew so well. Most of the days the Lady is out of my sight and even if I was home, she is out of the house for most of the day. She is experiencing new things that I have no idea about. Gone are those days where I knew everything she was talking about because we experienced it together. Part of me is glad I no longer know how many times she has taken a poop in the day, which is still a hot topic when I discuss QT. (Did you ever think you would devote so much time and so many conversations to your kid's bodily functions?)

I am glad that she is gaining the independence and the intelligence to function on her own. I know she still needs me but part of me also feels like we are drifting apart and that we spend more time battling over the smallest things, when anyone in their right mind (an adult or maybe a five year old--it gets better at five right?) wouldn't even make an issue out of it.

I just feel like I have already gotten a glimpse of my life in 11 or so years. The excess drama, the absolute refusal to do what is asked, the slam-the-door-stomp-my-feet-I-hate-the-world attitude that at times makes me want to slam the door myself and hide out in the bathroom for a while and at other times is so absolutely ridiculous it makes me laugh (not in front of her though, because that will never end well).

Maybe I am giving her too much milk? Maybe I should switch to organic? The last thing I need is puberty to hit before ten.

I certainly don't want to disregard the Lady's feelings, because they are clearly valid and true to how she feels at the time. I am making an effort to get her to name how she feels. I know they talked about emotions at school, because I read the weekly e-mail that the teacher sends every Sunday, and I am trying to get her to say I am mad/sad/jealous/annoyed before she acts on it-- before we have another incident that ends up with her smacking the Little Lady or screaming at me "I hate primary colors."

Yes, you read that right. I mean, I am partial to the tertiary colors myself, but really?

How did this happen?

The Lady is a bit of an artist, but she is definitely of the Realist school. Grass is green, the sky is blue. Unfortunately the amount of paint left in our watercolor tray was miniscule and there wasn't enough green for her flowers.

I reminded the Lady that yellow and blue make green. She mixed the two together, but alas, the Little Lady also wanted green for her Jackson Pollack-inspired splatter fest that she was working on and our limited resources soon ran dry.

This was not good.

So, I decided to go over and help make more green. The problem? I mixed the blue into the yellow space. Now the Lady had no yellow for the inside of the flower.

The Lady: I want you to make more yellow.
Me: I can't make more yellow.
The Lady: But I want you to make more yellow.
Me: Yellow is a primary color, you can't make it.
The Lady: But I waaaaant you to make more yellow for my flower?
Me: Can't you just make the inside purple? Remember when Zee (yes, I am using an Moose and Zee reference) spilled Henrietta's yellow paint and she used blue to make rain instead of yellow for a sun? Can't you just use your imagination?
The Lady: But I want yellow.
Me: I can't make yellow it is a primary color.
The Lady: I. Hate. Primary colors! 


I guess that was better than the "I hate you momma" she spit out a few days earlier and was immediately repeated by the Little Lady.

There is nothing like being told you are hated in duplicate.

So, I guess I should store these moments away and when the Lady finally does hit fifteen, hope that her biggest problem is still the lack of primary colors in her life and not something terrible like a mean girl or a broken heart.

I know that four will turn to five, to six, to seven and beyond. I also know that each age comes with new joys coupled with new lows that will crush any confidence that I have that I am a good parent and send me storming towards the snack drawer. 

I am, however, comforted by the fact that hanging on the bulletin board outside the Lady's classroom is a small paragraph from some study, basically saying (and I am paraphrasing here) that four sucks and it will eventually get better.

Oh, and that watercolor painting that so desperately needed the yellow? It is now on top of a pile of her artwork that is screaming for some sort of order. If only there was a website out there where you could find great organizational ideas. . .

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