I would have to say that so far, age 4 is my absolutely favorite age, hands-down. Still small enough to want lots of cuddles but big enough to play independently (Yay!) And Noah in particular has been awesome; from seeing him take on challenges and finishing them to long conversations in the car about movie plot points and word definitions, I have been loving this stage. However, with big jumps in skills also come big emotions.
That's not quite right; it's more along the lines of Giant Emotional Swings Of Enormous Magnitude And Holy Crap Child Are You Sure You're Not A Teenager? And anything can set it off. ANYTHING. In fact, Tuesday's one-way trip down the Wormhole of Despair was caused by him being 'drinky' (thirsty). (Do not correct him. I love it.) and me not having any beverage available for the ride home. (Full disclaimer: it was his first day back at school after being off for 4 days; the transition has always been difficult for him. This is also why I didn't keep him home from school the entirety of spring break last week - I'm no masochist. Though I do tremble in fear when I think about him being in kindergarten next year....) So he was tired and had his schedule a bit messed up after being allowed to sleep until 8 for the long weekend. (This is also the BESTEST thing to come out of age 4 - sleeping past 7. I kind of want to take it behind the shed and do naughty things with it.) I did have an apple with me left over from lunch that I offered to him.
'NO! I DRINKY!!!!'
'But the apple has juice in it....' Me, stupidly trying to reason with an overtired preschooler.
'NO! NOAH DRINKY! I NO WANT APPLE!!'
'I'm sorry honey, I don't have anything for you to drink. You're just going to have to wait until we get home.'
'NO! I WANT...' And here we went completely off the rails. I was a bad mommy, the worst mommy, I needed to get out of the car and leave him alone. He didn't want to talk to me. He didn't want the radio playing. (I turned it up. Passive aggressive for the win!) Everything was met with wails and kicking and shouting.
'Okay honey, I understand. I'm sorry but you'll have to wait.'
I even amazed myself at how calm I was because I knew he was tired and that yelling or being mean back wouldn't solve anything. I knew he didn't mean anything he was saying so I kept my tone calm and soothing. I checked my words. (Mostly) About 10 minutes away from home it happened; the wails broke down into sobs (how I know he's calming down).
'What's the matter, Boo? How can I help you?'
Sobbing 'I was so mad Mommy. I said bad things. You mad at me.'
'No sweetheart, I'm not mad. I love you very very much. You were upset and that's okay. You can be upset all you want. How can I help you calm down?'
'I don't know how to calm down. I was so mad. I sorry. I love you Mommy.'
'I love you too buds. Do you know how much?'
'More den all the stars in sky.'
'That's right baby, more than all the stars in the sky.'
By the time we got home, he was fine. We made a plan that we'd bring his water bottle from then on to fill before we left his school. (I also saved my apple again. Lo and behold, he ate it. Huh. Maybe it's also a case of low blood sugar. I'm a freakin' genius I am.)
So big, can do so much but still so hard to keep control when your emotions are even bigger than you are. But for all the meltdowns and ridiculous tantrums, I wouldn't trade this age for anything. To see him struggle and ultimately master his emotions made me so proud. When he realized that he had said mean things and apologized, my heart practically burst. And the hug I got after getting him out of the car, well, that is what being a parent is all about - seeing them come through the other side.
You're such an incredible little boy Noah and I love you so much. More than all the stars in the sky.