Almost four

Dear Amy,

Let me tell you a little about what you’re like these days.

Just yesterday you learned how to swing by yourself — pumping your legs the right way most of the time, and correcting yourself when your legs got confused.

And also just yesterday, you learned how to catch your big purple ball.

You have little to no interest in your tricycle or bike, you insist on holding onto something while you hop on one foot, you still put both feet on each stair, but you love to jump (especially loudly) and twirl and dance and do somersaults and flips over my knees and headstands leaning your back against the back of the couch.

You love to be in charge.

Every day you announce what your plans are, and what everyone else will do to fit in with your plans. You like to be the teacher, modeling your lessons after your Montessori experience. You would prefer your playmates to follow your lead in great detail, including what to say, where to sit, what to do, when, and how. You are continuing to learn about taking turns, about graciously allowing others to have choices, even about graciously accepting “no” sometimes.

You usually wake up before I do, especially on non-school days. You are content to play by yourself quietly while you wait for me.

Your favorite things to play this week include Bela Fleck and Mrs. Strauss, the ever-popular Fever’n’Ague, Class, Restaurant, Miss Clavel and Madeline, Miss Shaina and Amy Exercising, House, and Dance or Somersault Show. Oh, and you pretend to lay eggs, like to be “rolled like dough,” and we pretend to cook you as honey mustard or tandoori chicken. The oven is under the coffee table. (How old were Tracy and I when we did that game? In our version there was a conveyor belt…)

You were on a big Little House kick for a while; once we got to the third book, your interest waned. Maybe in part because we still haven’t gotten that one on CD to listen to as we go back and forth to school. You still like to talk about and play Little House, though. You love your High Five magazines, and all sorts of books. You sometimes pretend to read from a book, and show me the pictures, even if there aren’t any. You’re fond of Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, and we’ve enjoyed reading many versions of their stories, including spinoffs like Sleeping Bobby or Sleeping Ugly.

You like to pretend to write. You write letters, and lists of things to do. Sometimes you draw — the faces you drew today included a vertical nose line, and the hair went all around the face. Sometimes there’s arms and legs coming out of a face. You like to watch other people draw, even or especially to draw the same thing many times. Sometimes, you say you don’t draw very well, which makes me sad; how did you get such an idea, and how can I help? I would like you to be comfortable with your current skill level, and to develop further skills. You also do a LOT of scribbling. You like to paint — your painting is also mostly scribbling. You like to color in eyes and mouths in coloring books or other pictures.

Many days you still take a nap. Some of those days you tell me you’re not old enough to have a quiet time instead of a nap. Other days you tell me vehemently that you don’t want to nap, and that you wish you were grown up so you wouldn’t have to. Some days we go have a playdate or something instead of nap, and sometimes that goes well.

You like to eat. You love pancakes, waffles, bacon, tortilla chips, pretzels, crackers, cornbread, buttered toast, or any kind of bread, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, all kinds of fruit, raw or frozen green beans, broccoli, carrots sometimes, sweet potatoes, hamburgers, tomatoes, corn on the cob, any kind of dessert (usually you ask for chocolate ice cream, but you want to try butter pecan next). You like to eat your chicken on the bone, and chew and suck on the bone long after everything edible has disappeared. Your interest in peas has rather declined, and you often don’t like noodles or couscous or spicy things.

You sleep with your rag doll, the handmade one Jeff and Carole passed down to you, whose curly hair you’ve pulled out from carrying her by it, whose pants you prefer to leave off, and whose name is Gladiator Girl.

So many interesting toys languish on your shelves. Then, occasionally, you get one out for a while.

You have so little concept of death, of course. You’ve heard the stories of Jesus and Lazarus, and your own stories often include someone dying and rising again. You saw a doll with outstretched arms the other day, and said she looked like she was dead on a cross. You wanted to watch when we drowned the groundhogs, and didn’t have any remorse for them at all. You often tell stories in which Daddy and I (and the kitty) are dead, so that you “have” to move to the old house in Paris and live with Miss Clavel.

Your chores include matching socks and piling your undies from the laundry, taking your dishes to the counter and wiping your place at the table, and putting away what you play with. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of a task, and have a hard time taking it one bit at a time.

You often interact very politely and charmingly. You love to sit with Miss Terri and Mr. George at church, and you often invite people to come over, especially adults. When we have a playdate, you love to tell the mama things. Sometimes you and the other child(ren) go right to playing very comfortably, and other times you keep to yourself, even stuffing a toy into your pants leg so no one else will play with it.

You also whine a lot; you don’t yet really understand the difference between your feelings and your behavior. You can’t stand it if anyone pretends to be sad or angry while playing with you. You seem to believe you ought to have just as much authority as anyone else, telling Daddy to come when dinner’s ready, telling me to sit in my chair beautifully and eat over my plate, telling me that something you want me to do is on your list, or is what your sign says, or is something I have to do. You sometimes use a very vehement tone when you’re angry or passionate, and you sometimes still want to slam doors, bang on walls, or throw or hit things and people. Sometimes you’re able to bang on something soft instead.

You love school. I got to observe your class the other day, and I enjoyed watching you get out various works (most from the language area) and do them either by yourself or with some guidance. I love that you go to this Montessori school, where you just get up and go to the bathroom when you need to, and wash your hands without being reminded, where you can choose to sweep the floor or wash a window or paint or clean up your own spill or have a snack or work with sequencing cards or have an individual lesson about letter sounds or sit at the peace table watching the sparkly thing or sit in the comfy chair with a book or do yoga poses from colorful cards.

You leave your blanket in the car when you’re at school, or at the park. Sometimes you forget about your blanket. You hold it to your nose while you suck your thumb on the way to or from school or church, or while having someone read you a book, or during mellow moments at home or on errands. Sometimes we spread it out for pretend picnics, or use it for a tent, and you usually want it included in pictures.

You like to be tickled sometimes, when it’s your idea, and you specify whether it’s to be one-finger tickle or all-fingers tickle, and where you want the tickle, and for how long. You also like to get little shoulder and back rubs, lots of hugs, sometimes kisses, and snuggles especially with books. You don’t mind your hair being brushed when it’s not full of knots, and you think you like haircuts but get tired of them before they’re done, and you don’t like your hair to fall in your face but don’t always want to wear hairbows or ponytails. You often like to have someone blow on your face or neck, but you don’t like raspberries anymore; you make your own raspberries, though, and pretend farts.

You like to sing, and to recite poems. You like to play hammered and mountain dulcimer, and sometimes the xylophone and your whistle and recorder. You’ve learned all five verses of “Jesus Shall Reign” and all four of “The Church’s One Foundation,” and now we’re working on “Come Thou Fount.” You also like to sing some songs I’ve made up, or other songs like “Yankee Doodle,” “Polly Wolly Doodle,” “This Old Man,” and the like. You generally say grace at dinner, and sometimes like to sing a grace like “Back of the Bread.” One night you sang “Yankee Doodle” for a grace, and it was hard not to immediately burst out laughing. You’re starting to understand about worship songs, prayer songs, and other songs.

You like to tell jokes, too. Mr. Counts taught you these two: “Knock-knock, who’s there, boo, boo who?, don’t cry it’s only a joke,” which confused you a bit, and “Who do you call when you hurt your toe? The tow truck!” The “Orange you glad I didn’t say ‘banana'” knock-knock joke confuses you a bit, too — your alternate version is to say “apple” repeatedly, and the punch line is “Grapes you glad I didn’t say ‘apple.'”

We do Bible study in the car on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the way home from school. We sing a little, listen to a chapter of Mark, tell back what you noticed, and we take turns praying.

You have a fantastic memory for certain kinds of things. You know your phone number, your birthday, how to spell your last name, and you’ve memorized quite a few songs, stories, poems, jokes, and so on. You remember a lot of fun events, too. But you often say you don’t remember what you did in school or in Sunday School; maybe you don’t quite know how to describe what you did, or maybe you just don’t want to talk about what you did. Sometimes you talk about something later, when no one asks. I’m like that, too; ask me what’s new or how I am and I go blank.

I wonder if you’ll be more detail-oriented, like me, or more big picturish, like Daddy. Just one example — in your latest High Five, you say “doll things” in answer to “what did Emma put in her building” instead of naming the individual bits.

You wish we could have dessert every night. You would love to go to the dining hall all of the time. You’d love to have waffles or pancakes every day. You wish we could go to Tennessee once a month. You don’t like it when I have work to do, but sometimes it turns out you also “have work to do.” At the yard sale the other day, after I’d told you in the car that we weren’t going to buy any toys, the man offered you the toy microwave that you were playing with and you said we weren’t buying any toys. When you’re at someone else’s house, you often ask for food (even though I’ve talked to you about that not being quite polite). When Scott and Brad came to work on our bathroom fans, you wanted to show them all of your things and do a concert for them.

I love who you are. I love seeing you becoming who you will be. I love being your mama.

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6 thoughts on “Almost four

  1. This is a great idea, Marcy! That reminds me…I meant to tell you that my kids have been the same about feeling like they are not good at drawing. I think at that age they are realizing that they just can’t get the picture on paper to look like the picture in their heads. I think the ability to compare what they want to do with what they can do is just a part of their maturity–but they haven’t developed the maturity yet to understand that how they do it is just right for their age. Definitely not your fault! Thanks for sharing all these soon-to-be-memories!

  2. HL, humph on your guilt. If you really think doing something like this would be fun for you, you can make a step in that direction. But I imagine there are all sorts of things you do with your kids that I don’t do…

    Christen, thanks! And thanks about the art comments, too; Amy doesn’t seem motivated yet to observe detail, but one of the things I’m thinking about is how to develop her eye a little more — to teach her to see lights and shadows, lines and shapes, proportions, and the like, and not just to think flower = this icon, nose = that icon, and so on. It’s one of the things that appeals to me about Charlotte Mason — her approach to nature study seems a good match with that goal. Meanwhile, I remind her that the more she does anything, the better she’ll get at it.

  3. I love that you are doing this. The years pass by so quickly, and the things that seem to sharp and clear now do fade with time. This will be a real treasure for her, and for you, someday. We learned you can’t write down too many things, take too many videos or too many pictures. Some day you look back and go, “is that all we captured? ” Enjoy!

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