The Effing Fours, wow. Every time I write a post like this I feel immense guilt – the little dude was our little miracle after a few years of fertility issues and I wanted nothing more to be a mum – but parenting this strong-willed and fiercely independent little guy is bloody hard work.
Four is like DEFCON1 of the phases so far – in six months time the little dude will be off to school and he’s going to be growing and changing so much so quickly; and with that comes a new set of challenges and behaviours.
He is little and fierce
I mentioned fierce independence – it’s great that he wants to choose his own clothes and get himself dressed but the whole process seems to take an agonising two hours most days.
He is feeling emotions and feelings – he has from an early age and I’m really seeing him struggle to deal with them sometimes. As a child and even now I’m quite sensitive and I really see this in him. We have talks most days when he gets angry or sad and I’m trying to encourage him to explain how he is feeling and teach him that it’s okay to feel emotional.
Middle aisle shame
The temper is something else – this week I’ve experienced the complete mortification of him screaming at me in the middle aisle of Lidl and an old lady shaking her head at me before telling me how I needed to toughen up and discipline him.
Discipline is a massive struggle – I’m strict but find myself questioning whether I’m too strict, whether a gentler approach would work better. My internal struggles with parental guilt go on – I don’t think that will ever go away to be honest.
We are back to having to supervise him at all times – two days ago I’d popped to the toilet and when I came back he was standing on my kitchen worktop. I’m still baffled as to how he ended up there.
He has always been toy car mad and he seemed to need constant attention and stimulation but trying to get him to concentrate on drawing, writing, baking or any activity is nigh on impossible. The Effing Fours seem to bring a pressure to mould him into being as school-ready as possible but he doesn’t seem to be mature enough to go there yet.
Am I not pushy enough? Again, parental guilt is everywhere.
We had a sleep regression, too – for four months we were back to waking up hourly through the night.
The good bits
It’s not all been bad, though – I love his wit, his cleverness and his affection. He’s a wise old bean, telling me that some people are nice in this world and some people are not.
As a mum it’s exhausting to be constantly reassuring him, trying to pick my battles and trying to discipline a small human that will resist discipline however it is applied.
Have I any tips for anyone reading this who is in the midst of the Effing Fours? Keep cool I guess – the more I lose my shit the worse it gets, but it seems to be a really stressful age.