When you have a baby, people are full of advice. Actually, once you get that stick to turn blue and start to tell people, the advice is free-flowing. You can’t eat this, you can’t do that, and if you’re not doing that then YOUR CHILD IS DOOMED. As you can imagine, most of this advice is unsolicited, and a fair portion of it isn’t exactly welcomed. As a first time mother at the age of 22, I felt like I had a huge luminous sign above my head saying “SHE HASN’T A CLUE”, based on the amount of absolute strangers popping up with advice on how to raise my child.
When he got older, it turned from advice to anecdotes about “when mine was that age”. The twos and threes have a terrible reputation – perhaps it is their alliterative value with the words terrible, tantrum and terrifying. And much like the warnings of demon children had stated, my son did show these
satanic developmental signs as expected.
But nobody warned me about the fours. In all the talk about the terrible twos and the terror threes, they left out the aftermath. So, I prepared myself for calmer seas. Perhaps a new maturity on the part of my 3ft tall consort. Oh, how I was wrong.
Four has brought with it some new challenges in itself. His independence is at an all time high. He wants to do everything himself, especially, it seems, if it is going to take a million years longer. This independence can take place with attitude. I’m preparing for the teenage years as the rolling eyes and the dismissive tone has already begun against his (clearly boring and uncool) mother. All I did was bring him into this world, I haven’t a hope of being considered in any way as cool as any of his friends or TV shows.
The attitude is paired with the EMOTIONS. I’m used to the crying, anyone who has had a baby gets used to it VERY quickly. This is a whole new ballgame. Like a shark whose fin barely appears above the water before attacking, these emotions bubble under the surface until BAM, meltdown. He’s only a small human and these emotions are as big as our house. They take up a lot of room and while it’s understandable from the outside that he’s learning how to deal with them and is unable to control them, it is taking a whole lot of self control first thing in the morning to not have a meltdown right beside him. And I’m the grownup here.
Oh, and THE WHINGE. It grates on my soul, he can have entire conversations in the whinge tone and it. is. torture. Where do they learn this, and how can we unlearn it? I know I’m not alone here, the lovely Sinead of Bumbles of Rice wrote a while back about how the whinge is killing her slowly too. But how do we make it stop?
It’s not that all of the emotions are bad. Some of them are lovely. He’s become very affectionate, loves a cuddle, will tell you he loves you and it’s all great. But it’s all changeable so easily, and five minutes later I’m not being invited to his birthday party because I’ve had the audacity to not give him a sibling. Oh, how I wish I was joking.
It’s been a huge time of change in the last six months since he turned four. We bought a house and moved into it. He changed childcare and then once he got used to it, changed up everything in there with teachers and classes. His old best friends have started primary school and I get the feeling he feels a bit left behind the bigger kids. He just wants to be bigger and it’s frustrating when he can’t be.
Did you know he’s four and a half? And that means he’s almost a FIVE BOY. I have no idea what privileges these five boys get – his only real experience is the kids he calls the “afterschoolers” at his creche, and he makes them sound like a very cool gang. It’s all about measuring up and I fear it will only get worse as he gets older.
Four is frustrating. I am waiting for the fun part and terrified it is never set to arrive. We’re in a cycle of teeth brushing tantrums, not fitting in meltdowns and being told I’m the meanest mummy ever ON A LOOP (with the odd I love you thrown in so that I don’t leave him in the Garda station). He knows what buttons to press and I’ve yet to figure out a way to disable those buttons. He’s not the only one learning on the job here.
So tell me, wise ones out there…. is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Or are the fours set to only lead to further frustrating fives, shitshow sixes and stressful sevens? Send coffee.