Milestones: Four Year Update

Here we are again, in what feels like a flash of light, recapping on the past twelve months.

I’m very aware that I say this every year, but I can’t believe how quickly time is flying. I think this year has been the most prominent, not only because he’s changed significantly this year, but we’ve now entered into the home stretch towards starting school.

For us, and most parents, this is a HUGE milestone and signifies what feels like the end of the “baby years”. Of course this is ridiculous, the baby years likely ended as soon as they started toddling, but in my head, because Sharon and I are his primary go-to people, because he spends the majority of his time with us, it feels like an end of an era.

It feels like yesterday I used to spend my days at baby groups.

The Past Twelve Months

Looking back from last year,  nothing drastic has changed about him per se (although he is remarkably tall for his age – check out the last photo!). He’s still incredibly talkative and likes (and dislikes!) the same foods. He still loves his sports and enjoys socialising with friends and family. What has changed though, and more recently as he crawled towards the big zero-four, is his emotional state.

In comparison to last year where everything was focused around what he liked and didn’t like, and what he could do and couldn’t do (yet), this year we’ve seen a huge change in his emotions and how he reacts to certain situations.

I’ve written about it in more detail recently, as to be honest, this sudden change knocked Sharon and I for six and I needed to vent, but in summary; we had a threenager – which is likely to be upgraded to ‘Fournado’ in no time – and we didn’t really know how to handle it. It was chaotic and unpredictable.

Over the past few months, we’ve experienced everything we thought we’d gotten away with once he’d turned three; from tantrums to hitting (albeit short-lived outbursts of hitting) to just general poor* behaviour that has come unexpectedly. It’s pushed us beyond our limits and I’m ashamed to say that it resulted in Sharon and I snapping at each other during one bad week. We were meant to be the grown-ups but we were brought down to his level. *When I say “poor” I’m talking about behaviour he damn well knows is unacceptable but is actively choosing to do differently.

He is also fiercely independent and will want to do “help” us with everything or do everything first. Woe betide you try and help him because something might be genuinely dangerous.

It’s been tough, and we are far from through it, but since hitting a low point recently we’ve been able to come through it as a couple and work out some strategies when reacting – and they’re working. This is not to say that things are plain sailing – we still have a four year old with emotions at the end of the day – but we now understand what’s happening.

We know this is normal.

But with every storm there is a rainbow and my goodness does he bring these in the tenfold.

Where he’s emotional, he’s also incredibly empathetic and is the first person to check on someone when they’re sad or upset. He’s also extremely kind and generous, and generally a wonderful, polite little human. I really couldn’t be prouder, and if the behaviour we’ve had to deal with recently means that he grows up to be incredible inside and out then I will take it.

Achievements this year

Aside from battling his emotions and the injustice of being a three year old, T has come through in leaps and bounds when it comes to potty training – the last real “training” we’ve been working on – as well as his language and writing.

As I type he’s been dry in the night for over a week (which was unheard of a few weeks ago) and now goes to bed without a nighttime nappy. He’s also taking himself off to the toilet (at night, too!) and is quite proud of himself when he takes himself off to the toilet when we’re out (although I don’t appreciate it when he’s suddenly run off looking for the toilets or locking himself in cubicles). It’s now very very rare that we have accidents. Any that we do have are often juice related or when we’ve let him have a little bit of fizzy pop.

I can’t say what the contributing factor is to this, as we tried all sorts of combos – from stopping his liquids straight after dinner to taking him for a “dream wee” – but one day it just clicked and we haven’t had a wet nappy since. I cannot recommend letting them lead more – it was the best thing we did. Apart from keeping an eye on when he might b due for a wee, there was very little we had to really stress over – and he’s been happy too!

Talking!

Gosh, where do we start? When is T not talking? I’d like to say in his sleep but he talks (read: mumbles) in his sleep too! I really wouldn’t change it, though, as I love talking to T and I’ll often strike up conversations about his favourite things or what he’s playing with or watching. I just want to soak it all up as I quite enjoy listening (honestly!).

That being said, this has probably come to bite me on the backside a few times, as this often invites him to ask a string of questions back at me – from why we aren’t at a certain location (because we’re not, sweetheart!) to why the traffic lights change. I really need to write down everything he asks me in one day! I must get in the region of 20+ questions a day.

In addition though, his physical language is stunning. He now says complex sentences using words such as “because” to join sentences, or his favourites; “actually” and “obviously”, and will regularly string several words together to make a decent sentence containing between 10-15 words if he’s asking a question; more if he’s telling me a story!

When he’s not talking, his writing and drawing is coming along beautifully. He is officially a righty and can write his name confidently over faint pencil. Reading is obviously a long way off, but he can recognise his name, as well as ‘Mummy’ and ‘Mama’, when it’s written down. Drawing-wise, he loves drawing a shape or two, and the other day he drew his interpretation of me (which *may* have made me cry – in a good way!).

Speaking of which, I’ve now lost count of how many objects and other things he knows. If he doesn’t know, he’ll ask, although I always encourage him to tell me what he thinks it is first.

The next 12 months.

Although I’m anxious, the next year is going to be exciting. Monumental for him, in fact. T is going to be introduced to this whole new world that comes with new environments and people – it’s going to be interesting to watch.

With the recent change in climate, I’m not going to lie and say I’m not nervous about what the next 12 months will bring for him and us as a family, but whatever happens I know it’ll only make him, and us as a family, stronger.

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