Amidst all of the craziness of this summer, Theo has had a birthday. His fourth. Theo’s fourth year, was admittedly not an easy one–for any of us, but Theo has weathered it all with the grace of a three-year-old (which is a moderate amount of grace). Having a mom starting work full-time, and then being basically incapacitated to some degree or another for the rest of the year was likely not easy.
This year, he was quite excited about his birthday, well in advance. His party was wonderful, with friends and family, pancakes for breakfast, mac and cheese for lunch, pizza for dinner, and a pink and purple cheetah cake.
Theo has grown in leaps and bounds, and when I look back on videos from a year ago (and shed a tear or two), I cannot believe it is our same Theo. His speech–both in Danish and English has exploded. He’s given up his pacifiers, and learned to ride a bona-fide bicycle. He can write his name, and has graduated from only child to big-brother-of-two, of which he is enormously proud.
Theo at four is independant. He can do pretty much anything he needs on his own, but that does not mean that he wants to. When he’s feeling helpful, he loves fetching me a glass of water, or a pacifier, or picking up his toys. When he’s not–it’s life’s biggest struggle to get him to put on his own pants.
Theo at four is the biggest goof I know. And that includes his father, which is saying a lot. Theo at four is brave. I can see the anxiety for new things creeping in, and my heart swells a little when I see him do something that I know isn’t easy for him.
Theo at four is loud. His voice takes up space, and even if he turns down the volume, it still fills every crack and cranny of conversation in our home. We have to remind him that Mama and Papa also need to get a word in edgewise every now and then. It rather makes communicating with each other something that happens mostly after bedtime.
Out of all his birthday presents, the one Theo has loved the most is his very own game of UNO he got from his aunt (thanks!). We play at least a few time a week, and if there weren’t two infants that suck a lot of energy, attention, and time, we’d play daily. I LOVE that Theo is getting old enough to play games that are also fun for me 😉 He also loves reading books together, playing with small toy animals, and jumping around on the couch.
His favorite foods are enchiladas, pizza, pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and curry. He eats terribly slowly, as eating is punctuated with long, drawn-out stories, and he goes through phases where he is not very gracious about what is being served for dinner, but he will generally at least try everything, and eats a pretty varied diet.
Naptime became a thing of the past around three-and-a-half years, and while I had always dreaded the disappearance of the nap, it was actually awesome! No, we did not have a “break” in the middle of the day, but it is so freeing to be able to go anywhere, and not worry about being back in time for nap, or waiting until he wakes up to leave. I really loved it! Now, of course, we’re starting from scratch again, but…at least there aren’t three naps to take into consideration!
Parenting a four-year-old is a big mess of choosing your battles and trying to hold onto some semblance of balance. I want to shower him with good attention so he doesn’t seek negative attention, but I also want to teach him that he cannot be center-stage ALL the time. I want to let him make his own choices, but also learn when to respect our decisions as parents. I want to answer all his questions about God and Abdu’l-Baha and the world (as best I can) but not right when I’ve tucked him into bed.
Four years in to becoming a parent, and I am still feeling the growing pains. I am still learning to take it easy–to try and let go. To sometimes let him steal all the pillows in the house to make a fort, even though it is a pain to make sure they all find their way back when the game is done. I’ll be the first to admit that when I am tired (which has been pretty much all of the time for the past year), I can be a grumpy, sensible, no-nonsense, boring parent, so I try to take time to smell the squashed-rose-hips that Theo asks me to smell, and to let the laundry stay unfolded so we can play UNO instead.
It is endlessly exciting and exhausting to see Theo growing up and becoming his own person with his own opinions. It’s both scary and liberating to feel him growing a little more up and away every month, but–that’s parenthood!