It has been a really long day… week, month actually. I feel like I have 99 problems and most of them are Mr 4.
I have always said 4 is the worst age, everyone talks about ‘terrible twos’, *coughbullshitcough*. 2 is a delightful rainbow filled walk in the park on the perfect spring day. It is just a cute, smiles and cuddles filled warm up run for 3 and then the ultimate evil that each child becomes, known as Freaking 4s.
Ironically this is also the 4th time I have been through this – saved the best ’til last too. So it’s not a case of a FTM shocked at this new unknown stage. I know there is another side – and on days like today, that and the cold bottle of wine waiting in the fridge are about the only thing that keep me going.
Everyone has a favourite and a least favourite stage and while I am yet to suffer as a parent of a teen, I will stand by 4 being THE worst age. (opinion subject to change in 5 years :p)
Newborns are hard work, all that crying and not knowing what is wrong, the lack of sleep, the post pregnancy hormone crash, but the hardest part is really adjusting your life and accepting that you will never sleep again. Once you get through that, they’re just divine. I’d honestly take 3 week old colicky triplets with poor latch over one 4 year old.
Then there is that awkward, not new born, but not mobile stage. Yeah, that has it’s down side, especially on your back. Like wrangling a hungry octopus out of water. Oh and introduction to solids, novelty wears off that after your first! But they sleep a bit more (with any luck) and they give lovely cuddles and the cutest toofless grins.
Toddlers, who doesn’t love a toddler? Baby proof your house and they’re just a walking babbling bundle of fun? Easy to entertain, no backchat, inquisitive, full of new milestone, every day brings a new surprise.
Aaand then we head to 2. You’ve still got the cute toddler thing, just with a side serve or attitude and cheek. They still have day naps if you’re lucky and toddler talk alone makes it worth it. “Quick mumma, da gwasspopper needs da ambwance to take him to da hopitable! The baby days diary gets a work out recording all that cute.
Three, helloooo big kid. Suddenly we have style, we have taste, we have empathy and compassion. We have worked out what we do and don’t want, even if that is chicken nuggets and not vegetables. We are ‘into’ things, we carry around little collections or things we find and sometimes leave them in our pockets for mummy to find – after she’s done the washing. Language is developing at a rapid rate, you can play games with them, teach them, you think you’ve just got this parenting thing mastered and your child will be the next president with all that new found independence and the way they are picking up everything you put down…
Until suddenly – 4. Oh emm geee. There is attitude, there is defiance, there is button pushing and testing beyond limits. There is too many times when you want to lock yourself in a room and cry. WHERE IS MY TIME OUT! The arguments, the back chat, the tantrums – hang on, didn’t we grow out of them 18 months ago? What the eff just happened to my perfect child? You start looking at them from different angles wondering if maybe there was a mix up at the hospital and would it be too late to get your money back?
But you deal, you hold back the tears, you keep calm, pick up your shattered parenting confidence and carry on. Because this is the year that really matters. This is the time to sort out your child before they go out into the big bad world to become part of the ‘system’. This is your last chance to make them the wonderful little human you want them to be. And thankfully, speaking from experience, it does get easier from here. For a few years at least
In the meantime, we have wine, we have the comfort of knowing we are not alone and that at the end of each day, they eventually go to sleep.