Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sometimes, I Forget You're Only Four

You are so big. I do mean that in a physical sense. At 45 inches and 49 pounds you're in the 98th percentile for both height and weight. But it's more than your size. I mean it in the words that you say, the connections you make and the empathy for others that you already seem to have. Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four.

But when I go to to check on you in the middle of the night your sweet face shows just how young you really are. A quiet sigh escapes your small lips while you clutch your Elsa doll close to your chest. Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four. In a moment like this, while I watch you sleep, that's when I remember.

Then you say something like, "The Earth is the only planet that we know has living things." And it's just hard to believe that you're not only learning more and more every day but you're remembering the things you're learning. This all seems to be happening so quickly and it makes me know you're needing me just a little less each day as you learn more and gain more independence. But then, while we're getting ready in the morning, you hug me around my neck and tell me, "I just want my mommy." Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four. In a moment like this, when you tell me you need me, that's when I remember. 

Even though sometimes I do still forget. Especially when you recite a specific house rule to your cousin such as the time you told her, "You have to taste everything on your plate by having three bites of each food." You certainly know all the rules. And you are happy to share them with both your cousin and your sister. You often sound more like an adult than a four year old. But, sometimes, you forget to follow the rules and you get told no or to stop. This causes you to slam your body on the ground and kick your arms and legs and scream. I get frustrated that a child at your age still acts like this. Because, well, sometimes you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four. In a moment like this, when you have a temper tantrum, that's when I remember.

You can become so upset and irrational in a flip of a switch during a tantrum. But in the very next moment I can hear you trying to explain death to your sister by telling her, "When you die you don't do anything. You just lay down with God." I hear you say that and it takes my breath away. Did you hear that from someone else or piece it together on your own from the bits you have learned from watching ones that you love pass away? I'm not sure. But the tender age of four seems far too young to say something like that, even if you are only reciting it from something you have heard before. Thankfully, these serious moments are few and far between. In the next minute someone could say the words "poopy butt" and you would laugh like it's the funniest and most creative joke that was ever told. Your laughter is so pure and full of youth, even if it's only over the words poopy butt. Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I forget you're only four. In a moment like this, when you laugh hysterically over potty talk, that's when I remember. 

I often find myself wondering where the time has gone. How did I blink and you are already four-and-a half? I will watch you periodically and remember a time, not so long ago, when you were just a small baby in my arms. Or a toddler learning how to walk and talk. Now, you are tall, rarely needing to be held and you have an ever-expanding vocabulary. While you're only four, you just seem so big.Then you remind me of just how small you really are on the days you do your own hair. You add a random assortment of hair clips and head bands.

On this occasion you chose a Frozen hair clip, both a Christmas and Halloween clip, an owl and a fluffy purple clip. You look fantastic every time. What I love about it is that you absolutely love doing your own hair. It makes you feel pretty and grown-up. And it gives me a chance to remember just how little you really are. Even though you can easily recite the details from our vacation over a year ago. Or tell me the directions to someone's house. Or the time months ago that you accidentally dropped a hair clip in the toilet. Or, really, any other random detail that I'm not entirely certain I would remember if you didn't remind me. I can't help but think sometimes you seem older than four with that impeccable memory of yours. It also doesn't help that you have a little sister. Each day I see you both getting bigger. But at least I have a littler one than you. I guess you seem bigger because I look at your sister today and remember when you were just as little as she is now.  I just keep thinking that you seem to be growing up so fast.

Sometimes, you seem so much older. Sometimes, I really do forget you're only four. Just yesterday you came downstairs wearing your fairy wings. Those wings remind me: You definitely are still my little girl. I can't stop time. I can't (nor would I want to) keep you from growing taller, learning new things and saying amazing things that make my heart skip a beat. But every time you do those things you remind me that each of these moments are short. Soon you will be off to preschool and before I know it, you will then be off to college. While there certainly are tough moments of age four, there are many more wonderful moments. These are the beginning moments of learning and creativity. These are the moments of cuddling stuffed animals and needing your parents with your every being. These are the moments of not being too big for tantrums. These are the moments of wearing twenty colorful hair clips and fairy wings outside to play. These are the moments of age four. These moments won't be here forever. And I don't want to forget that, today, you're only four. 

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