Four years old. It’s a fun age. So many questions non-stop it will make your head spin. The world is so exciting, and they just want to soak it up 253 questions at a time.
It’s lovely because they become more independent. They want to do things themselves, and they can. They (hopefully) are potty trained, and can sometimes (when they are in the mood) even bathe themselves a little. They are happy, know not to run into the street, are getting more coordinated. What’s not to love?
They know not to hit, how to share, and they are learning their manners.
Wait. What? You said manners? OH. Let me re-think that for a minute.
I was at a park with a friend. We had gone last minute because I was supposed to be sitting around waiting for my landlord who didn’t show after 45 minutes. Screw that, I thought. I’m not going to sit here all day. So, I jumped in the car and headed to a park by my house (only to pass my landlord strolling around at some nearby shops…what the…), and I didn’t pack snacks. I told Kyle, “As soon as you say you’re hungry, that means it’s time to go home. Mommy didn’t pack lunch”. “OK” he says only half listening.
We’re there about 45 minutes when the friend pulls out snacks for her kids. My kids come running. They heard the rustling of plastic from across the playground despite lawn mowers, and kids playing. They are a magnet to that sound.
They stare. Expectantly. I apologize to my friend. “You called last minute so I didn’t pack anything”. She is the nicest person ever, so of course she shares her peanut butter crackers that my boys wolf down like they are starving children from a third world country.
“Say thank you” I coach my 4 year old still holding half of his last cracker. He shakes his head no. “Say thank you or I’m going to take the rest of that cracker away.” He shoves it into his mouth.
I try a fun approach. I grab him and hold him in my lap. “You aren’t going to play until you say thank you to our friends for sharing.” He is giggling and wiggling, and thinks it’s a game. I was trying not to make it a huge deal, but now he was pushing my buttons. “Kyle, I’m serious. Say thank you. It’s not polite to take someone’s snack they give you and not say thank you.” He gets away. I yell out, desperate, “If you don’t say thank you, we are going to leave.” Meanwhile, my friend is just laughing about it, not really caring whether or not a four year old says thank you or not. But, by now, it’s the principle of the thing you know? So, I walk over and get down on his level away from my friend at the tree he is trying to climb. “Kyle, I guess we are going to leave then?” “NO!” “OK, then your choice is to go over there and say thank you to your friend or his mommy, or we are going to leave. You have until 3 to decide. 1….2….3…are you ready?” He nods his head yes. I walk over with him. He buries his head in my leg. “Say thank you Kyle!” getting exasperated. He won’t. “It’s easy, just say it.”
Who do you think won this battle? Well, it might depend on who you ask.
We left. Sometimes you just have to follow through with the threats.
When we get in the car, I tell Kyle that I think that he was being rude. I explain what rude means. I explain that when someone shares you need to say thank you. I tell him I’m not mad, but I’m just disappointed and can’t understand why he wouldn’t just say it. He responds, “Because I was shy”.
This friend of mine is not a new friend. She’s watched my kids for me before, we’ve hung out with our kids many times. Yet all of the sudden you’re shy? I don’t know if I’m buying it, kid. He has obviously moved on, and I am still mad. Is anything I’m saying getting through to this kid? Sometimes, I wonder.
Maybe it’s just low blood sugar because he’s hungry. I feed him lunch, and he seems more agreeable. That is until he purposely trips his brother after lunch knocking him to the floor while I’m sitting there watching him.
The will of a four year old. No one warns you about that. It’s enough to make you think you’re raising a sociopath, but I know I’m not. No sociopath giggles and laughs and FEELS as much as my Kyle does. So, it’s hard for me to reconcile when he seemingly doesn’t care about a single word that comes out of my mouth.
As we were driving home from the park he says, “That’s OK. I didn’t want to go to the park anyway”.
I’m going to go bang my head against a wall now.
And, if you want to see the sweeter side of my Kyle, go check out this blog post I wrote.