I have heard that parenting only gets harder as children get older. I am not fully convinced of that yet; Newborns can be pretty terrible. But I can definitely see how each year and each new stage adds a level of complexity to parenting. The stakes are higher, I suppose. The choices I make as mom and the methods through which I shape my children have more impact.
Parenting Vera requires more thought, intentionality, and effort than parenting the younger three does. And of course, she’s my first pancake, so I do many things wrong the first time. In that way it’s more difficult. But it’s also far more fun. Maybe it’s my stubborn personality, but somehow it all feels like one big challenge to me. I don’t love every moment, but I do love every day. Four and a half may be my favorite age yet.
This is the summary for Vera at four and a half years old.
7:15am Out of room & breakfast
7:45am Chores, get dressed (or sometimes Silent Reading Time here also)
8:15am Play, if there’s time after chores
8:45am Independent Playtime
9:45am Play or read
10:30am Clean up, get ready to leave house
10:45am Errands, park, or play outside
1:00pm Devotional Time
4:00pm Up from nap, go outside
6:00pm Bath, get ready for bed
Eating is good. Normal. She is not picky. She is highly motivated by dessert.
Vera rarely naps anymore. Maybe once every few weeks she will fall asleep during nap time. Nevertheless, naptime happens every day. She is content to play in her room quietly the whole time. Typically she goes down for a nap a half hour later than the others because her and I do a devotion time together first, so her nap time is 2.5 hours every day.
At night it has been taking her a long time to fall asleep. Sometimes she is still awake when I go to bed! During nap time she is allowed to be out of bed and playing, but at night time if she can’t fall asleep she sits up in bed flipping through books and talking to herself.
A few times a week she has been having these strange crying episodes. She starts crying (loudly) and I go in her room to find her completely asleep. Very odd. I hear this is normal, but I hope it ends soon because of the interruption to my own sleep.
She has been sleeping in more lately. Sometimes when I go in to get her up at 7am she has just recently woken up.
Last thing, we finally took the potty out of her room. Now when she has to pee she gets up, comes out of her room and goes in the hall bath. I was worried about her abusing this privileged and coming out repeatedly (that’s why he kept the potty in there for so long) but so far so good.
We debated sending Vera to TK for this upcoming fall. At first I felt like she just HAD to go. That’s me falling prey to social pressures – all of her friends start TK or Kindgergarten in the fall and I didn’t want her to be the only one left at home. As time went by and I mulled it over, I started to question that decision. There just seem to be a lot of things she could afford to learn before leaving the controlled environment she’s in now. I don’t mean school things – letters, numbers, etc. – I mean developmental things like self-control and interpersonal skills. There was one specific moment I remember where she staged a full-on, all-out, whole-body tantrum for nearly two hours because, well, I can’t even remember why now. I put her outside because her tantruming was too loud and I watched her through the window thinking my God, that is NOT a child who is ready to go to school.
So when the school called me to tell me she had not been accepted because she was born a few days too late and if I wanted to send her to TK I’d have to drive across the city to an extended TK program I thought praise God for a closed door. The timing is not right. She is not ready.
So we have another year to work on things before Kindergarten will start in Fall 2018. We did decide we are going to send her to the dual-language academy (for reasons that go beyond the benefits of being bilingual), but I feel a lot more relaxed knowing I have a full year to invest in her before she flies the coop.
Vera is not even remotely close to being able to read. At times this concerns me – most of her friends can read at a very basic level and my mom tells me that my siblings and I all learned to read on our own before going into Kindergarten.
On the other hand, her vocabulary seems high. I assume this is because I read to her a lot. Sometimes I wonder if I should spend less time reading aloud to her and more time working on teaching her to read. But alas, I am selfish. I do not like teaching and I absolutely love reading, so that option does not appeal to me. The school will just have to teach her.
Vera is relatively obedient, but it is not without effort. She is not naturally obedient. We have worked on it tirelessly though, and the improvement is visible.
But there is a next step to obedience that until now I think I’ve probably neglected. She will usually do what I ask or command and in that way she consistently makes the right choices. But when I am removed from the equation (for example, when she goes to school), I don’t have confidence that she is capable of making the right choices independently. She has learned to follow directions and submit to authority, but hasn’t learned to consider what is right or good or kind on her own. I’m not sure how to teach this, so for now I’m just trying to have frequent conversations with her intended to get her thinking about what the right thing is without feeding her the answer.
Also, the sass. YUCK.
My favorite thing about having a four and a half year old might be their capacity (and willingness) to do chores. My goodness, they are legitimately helpful! Vera’s has a couple of clearly defined responsibilities, like emptying the dishwasher, drying and putting away dishes, putting away her own laundry, buckling Abel into his car seat, etc., but mostly she just does things as asked. Wipe the counters, tidy the books, pick up the toys, dust the shelves, wipe up spitup, throw away diapers, throw away the kitchen trash, help fold laundry, etc.
I am thinking this must be a girl thing, but she is just naturally pretty compliant with chores. She wants to help. There are of course times she protests, but generally it’s pretty easy to get her to do what I ask in this area. At times the constant cleaning required to keep the house in shape can be overwhelming, so I’m super thankful to have a little sidekick to help me out here and there.
Vera is still socially awkward. She’s shy, and that certainly is a contributing factor, but it’s more than that. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but something is just not quite normal. Or maybe it’s just not quite me. I am doing my best to work on this as I can, but maybe the best thing I can do it just pray that when she goes to school, she finds a good group of friends who embrace her for being her.
I have been doing quiet time with Vera in the afternoon after the younger three go down for a nap for the past six months or so. She loves it and I love it. I’ve kind of hopped around, trying different things during this time, but recently we’ve settled on doing a short daily devotional from this book: Long Story Short. It’s great! It is easily adaptable to her age group.
The Questions They Ask:
I just love the thoughts and questions that run through the mind and out the mouth of a four year old. Incessant questioning can get a little tiresome to be around, so I have no problem telling Vera when she’s hit the upper limit for daily questioning, but she manages to squeak out quite a few thought provoking queries before she reaches her max for the day.
The last twenty minutes before I sat down to type this were spent answering rapid-fire questions about birth, for example.
How does the baby get in there?
Do you poop when you push it out?
Who cleans up the poop?
But that hole is so tiny! How does the baby’s head fit through?!
Does it scratch your vagina with its fingernails when it comes out?
Does it hurt for your vagina to stretch that big?
Why would you want to have a baby if it hurts like that?
Isn’t there a better way?
She can think up questions much, much faster than I could ever answer them. Sometimes I want to throw her an ipad and just scream GOOGLE IT!
But no, she’s a joy to be with and a true blessing to our lives. Totally worth the pain of child birth, I tell her.