My mom always says that whatever age her kids were at any given point, that was her favorite age.
I know what she’s saying. You love it when they crawl, when they can hold their own bottle, when they learn how to make just the right combination of gestures and grunts to communicate what TV show they’d prefer (no, just mine?).
One day you’re afraid to hand them a fork for fear they may try to spear a hot dog and stab their own eye instead. The next day, they pierce those dogs with impressive accuracy.
It is amazing to watch these little people learn to pull on their own pants. Or to use your words against you. (How many times do I have to TELL you, Mommy?!)
While I can appreciate the special nuances of each age, I have always secretly pined for age 4-6 months. Oh, how I loved age 4-6 months. That baby was sleeping through the night and he was all smiles and light during the day. He was a dream in any restaurant, garnering endless “what a good baby” coos from strangers.
At 4-6 months, Ryan battled ear infections but pretended not to notice. He was active but in no rush to move across the room on his own. We never argued about food at 4-6 months, it was just milk, milk, milk — and we all liked it that way.
There are segments of each subsequent age that I have enjoyed, but most of them came with less desirable side effects. Yay, he can walk; oh crap, he’s running away from us at the fair. Yay, he can use the potty; boo, we have to stop every 45 minutes on road trips to pee. Yay, he can communicate his feelings; nice, he just called me stupid.
But I think I finally found the age that rivals 4-6 months in awesomeness: Four years old.
Ohhhhh, lordy, how I love four years old.
We’re still only a couple months into Age 4, but it’s like as soon as Ryan’s birthday hit, someone (God, were you listening?) snapped their fingers and he shed his three-year-old frustration.
Suddenly, he seems free. Like he finally feels comfortable – even happy? – in his own skin.
At age 4, he is smart. Just today, I told him to finish the little bit of milk in his cup from lunch. He clearly was not interested, but he took one sip in front of me then disappeared into the kitchen. I heard the smallest of splashes before he came back around the corner, holding the empty cup out in front of him.
“I finished my milk!”
“Did you just dump that in the sink?” I asked as I glanced in the sink and could see clear evidence of milk dumpage.
“No, I drank it. Can I watch a show now?”
That boy knew better than to argue with me over whether or not to finish the milk. He knew the easiest road was the one paved with his own creative solution (and the telling of a necessary subsequent lie).
At age 4, he is funny.
I bought myself a new winter hat today. I’m not much of a “hat person” but I’m even less of a “cold winter wind” person, so I splurged on a $5 knit Walmart special. For $5, I thought it was cute. Anyway, I wore the thing when I picked Ryan up from preschool today, and naturally, he had to comment on it.
“What are you wearing??”
“I bought a new hat! Do you like it?”
“It looks silly!”
“I was hoping it looked pretty…”
“It looks silly AND pretty. It looks … pretty silly! Haha!”
I want to be a little insulted but dang. That was clever.
(Despite that last example), at age 4, Ryan is sweet.
He calls me his “best mommy friend.” When I ask him if I can keep him forever he says, “Yes. Can Daddy keep me forever, too?” He gives kisses freely and excessively because he doesn’t yet know it’s not cool. He told me today that when he gets bigger, he’s going to drive me around in my car (and Daddy can sit in the backseat).
He purrs a little “mmmmmm” when he hugs me.
I wish I could write it all down. Every single thing he says right now, just the way he says it. Like how he says “the pinecones be’s on the street” instead of “the pinecones are on the street.” How he says too-mardo instead of tomorrow. Chocawick instead of chocolate.
Yes, this might be my favorite age. It might even beat age 4-6 months.
As much as I want to believe my mom that it will keep getting better, I can’t fathom how five could top this.