Thursday, March 3, 2011

the age of 4

As time keeps ticking by and the kids are getting older, I think back to earlier days.  Days of younger years.  Days of different challenges.  Days of smaller feet and smaller clothes and smaller problems.  They were also the days of better sleeping (yes I actually slept better when my kids were younger), bigger hugs and longer snuggle time.

When the subject of "best age" comes up, I am usually quick to respond that my favorite age of a child is between the age of about nine months to 18 months.  I really do love this age.  Two of my three were sleeping through the night right around nine months and there is nothing better for a new mother than a complete 8 hours.  I realize this has nothing to do with the kid.   It's all about me, the mom, and my mental health, but still it helps make this a golden age.

The first round of teething has been endured.  Once those first few teeth break through, the whole process just seems more manageable, for both me and the kid.  And isn't that how it is with everything - the first time is the hardest?

And they can move.  My babies were pretty hefty as infants and it took them awhile to figure out how to get mobile.  Once they got that, wow, they were so very happy.  A happy baby means a happy mom.

They change so much during these few months.  Moving, growing, walking, talking, eating new things, exploring all the time.  The world is theirs.  They cling like a monkey when you cart them around, that is until they start pushing away.  And that's when this golden age winds down.  Before the two's.  Before the power struggles.  Before the wild child sets in. 

If I think a bit more though, I think the real golden age is the age of four.  Diapers are done.  Bottles are behind us.  Independence sets in.  They are old enough to get themselves dressed and find a snack.  I remember being amazed when I witnessed my child at preschool pouring his own milk from a pitcher into his cup.  He could do that all by himself! 

The range of entertaining activities is limitless.  Crayons, legos, Batman, Spiderman, but before Star Wars.  Matchbox cars, Speed Racer and Dora and Diego.  Books, books, books.

But they're still your baby.  Still young enough that they want you, need you.  They want to snuggle and their nighttime tuck-ins.  Stories, stories, stories - the love of a good book or two or three.  Still small enough to crawl into your bed when a bad dream invades their sleep.  Still freely giving huge hugs.  You are everything in their world, but they are also their own being.

And then school starts.  The world begins to change.  Slowly at first, but the divide begins, never to return to that special age, that age of 4.
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