I am constantly amazed at the types of things that run through our four year old’s mind: how wild of an imagination she has and how complex and funny her thoughts are becoming. Like many kids, she wakes up talking to herself, chats her way through her day and even falls asleep having happy conversations with her bunny or some imaginary friend. I feel guilty admitting that the ongoing commentary occasionally just fades into the background as I tick through my day-to-day tasks. Then suddenly, I’m snapped back into reality when I realize that I have just been asked how babies are born or how the ocean was made – two big questions that have come up lately.
As far as I can tell, a four year olds primary job is to ask questions and comment on the world around them – the other is to test boundaries, but that’s another topic. I’ve been doing my best to be present, really listen and give her good answers to the onslaught of inquiries – some days are easier than others. But I want J to know that her thoughts and questions are important and know that I value what she has to say. And I want to remember these conversations: they are clever, surprising, honest, and sometimes it’s those little comments and positive thoughts on life that put a happy spin on my day.
Here’s a few recent comments / conversations:
Me: “Have you seen my dishrag, J?” J: “I posted it online, ha ha ha!”
J: “I played football in the twenties.” Me: “What?!” J: “Jokin’.”
J: “I don’t ever want to trade you in for a new Mom, I love you too much.” (Phew! I’m not sure where exactly J thinks one might look for a new Mom, but I’m glad that I still have a job)
J: “I want you to give me some fangs.” (bangs)
J: “I wish we could live in the North Pole so we could see Santa all the time. We should do dat sometime.”
J: “When I get married, Daddy will walk me down the aisle…so that will be exciting! (long thoughtful pause…) but there’s SO many men in the world that how will I know which one to fall in love with?!” (Uh, yah, I was totally not ready to have that conversation)
J: “If there’s room at Grandma’s house me and my huds-band can move in with her.”
J: “I want Daddy to do bath tonight to give Mommy a break from dealing with me.” Always thinking about her mama!
J: “Hey, I have an idea: the next morning, I’ll give you five hugs – one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Because five is more than four – so it’s a better deal.” (Clearly she has inherited my stellar math skills)
J: “I wish it would rain cupcakes!” (Me too, kid. Me too)
Me: “Are you done with your raspberries?” J: “Oh, every now and again I come and eat one – so you can just leave them out.”
J: (while looking for a marker) “I need BRIGHT pink and I can’t find it…this is REEALLY BAD!” (Yes, it does sound like a crisis)
It’s these little moments that make all the other challenges of parenting worthwhile. And I must say that there have been power struggles lately, cooperation has hit an all time low and I find myself thumbing through parenting books and scrolling websites for bits of help and insight. My goodness it is a hard job this parenting thing! But it’s these moments and sweet conversations that sustain me and give me the energy and encouragement to wake up and try to make the best out of our day, to be more patient, to lighten up on the stuff that really doesn’t matter, and to appreciate that this is a stage that will not be around forever. I know I will wish it back one day.
One last thing: Tonight was a ‘girls night’ since my husband was working late. Which is half fun, and half oh-great-my day-just-got-way-longer. But as I chewed my last mouthful of pasta and prepared to get up J beat me to the punch, got up, told me she was going to clear my plate and then proceeded to clear the entire table – I mean, the entire table – plates, napkins, cutlery, glasses and condiments. It just made me so happy and proud and I sort of just sat there in awe. It was so sweet. So thank you, four year old. You make me happy.