In 19 days, he’ll be four… if we can stand these tumultuous tantrums, exasperating stories, and demanding dictates that long.
A recent exchange
Me: “You know I love you, right?”
Ya: “Yes. You just don’t like me.”
I read somewhere that telling lies becomes a favorite activity around this age – something about spinning the ruse and fishing for believers is intriguing to the little lad. Perhaps, but around here, we prefer to hear the truth (and nothing but the truth). Trust me when I say, “I CAN handle the truth!” If I ask “Why are your clothes wet? Did you pee on your bed?” He replies, “No. I was sweating.” Several moments later I hear, “Mom, where’s the cleaner?” as big sister reports that he didn’t wet his bed, he came to her room to mess up hers. Again.
And that’s another thing we’re trying to get ahold of – night time accidents of the urinary kind. Ya’s been potty trained for a year. We’ve been free of diaper duty (and the related expense) and I’ve no desire to return to the days of old. He was sleeping through the night without issue. Last call for drinks is 7pm, bedtime when school’s in session at 8pm and for summer we add an hour. And when he woke up at 6am or some such pre-sunrise hour, he’d meander to the restroom without assistance or reminder. But for the last three months, he’s simply woken up, relocated, and settled down – apparently so comfortably asleep that he doesn’t realize he’s wet himself and his chosen sleep spot. Or does he realize it and simply not care?
He’s been challenging everyone, and no one is enjoying the feisty (and rude) articulations. In the morning he feels food should be served as soon as he wakes up – regardless of the time. “Why can’t you cook me food?” he bellows, even when the household schedule for meal times has long since been established. We are subjected to similar demands to go to the playground, pool, toy store, Oma’s – - any place he fancies – - in commands peppered with “please?” Somehow, “I said I want cereal, please!” is just not an effective or polite request.
If we request that he clean up his toys (or anything else), he protests. If we persist in our demands, he resists with a tenacity that makes little sense. Threatening to permanently remove the playthings strewn around the home doesn’t phase him. [The donation pile is growing quite large quite quickly.] And should he be sent to “time out” or restricted from access to his favorite things? He conjures up a “Mom, I can’t breathe!” tirade that might cause concern, except as an asthmatic myself I’ve never known such lung strength to scream and holler for assistance at the onset of an attack.
And just when his antics have brought me to the point of wishing summer were over and he were in daycare, he becomes uncomfortably clingy. He’ll press his suddenly tall and lanky body up against mine and rub his head against me. He’ll bat those long eyelashes and flash big brown eyes. Sometimes he’ll say “You know I love you” and my heart melts ever-so-slightly. When he’s exhausted and has refused to take a much needed nap, he’ll sit up against me (arms crossed in protest) and fall asleep in the crook of my body. Sometimes, he’ll rest his hand or his head against my protruding pregnant belly, waiting for a response from the baby inside. He’s never asked about how the baby will change his position in the family, but I wonder if he’s trying to hold onto these last months as “the baby” by regressing into one.
Now we’re watching him build the greatest of lists for his birthday. Monster trucks (“You should buy this now, there’s only one here…”), motorized trains, action figures – the list goes on. I fear he’ll be disappointed if something is forgotten, omitted, or ignored.
It’s clear that he’s still getting used to the many changes this year has brought: a step father and brothers, responsibilities around the house, elimination of co-sleeping and night time nursing, a pre-teen sister creating distance, new understanding of the power of his voice. I didn’t expect him to breeze through these adjustments with ease, but when will he be himself again? Or is this the “self” he’s chosen to become?