In a few short days, my youngest child turns 4. While this milestone might not be as typically celebrated as, say, a kid's first birthday (or even their second), in my mind, it should be. The reason is simple: 4-year-olds have officially graduated from being a toddler, and as most moms know, the toddler years are soul-crushing. Two has a reputation for being terrible, but threenagers? They're even worse.
I'm not saying that my child's fourth birthday will magically transform him into a rationally behaving nonanimal, but the next year is bound to be better than the last — one during which I came to accept that he was probably the most annoying type of human on the planet. In addition to constantly and gleefully putting himself in life-threatening situations, he would then freak out when I tried to gently guide him back to safety. I'm happy to report we both survived, and he's no longer regularly running into oncoming traffic (whew). Here are four more reasons I'm super stoked to officially have a 4-year-old.
- We're officially done with potty-training. I'm sure many of you lucky moms crossed this threshold when your kids were 3, but my child decided to go for broke and wait until just a few months before his fourth birthday to totally master the whole toilet thing. It's been a long struggle, but he's been accident-free for almost a month now, and I am officially done buying diapers. It's a parenting game changer and a truly beautiful thing.
- He's now able to communicate all his needs. Better communication means fewer temper tantrums. While he's still melting down because I won't let him do things like eat whipped cream straight from the can for breakfast, at least we now both know what we're fighting about.
- We're a year away from full-day school. Sure, actually having him in all-day kindergarten will be pretty amazing, but for now, just knowing the days of putting both of my kids on a bus at 7:30 a.m. and not seeing them for seven full hours are so close might be even better. I'm savoring our time together, while being more aware than ever of how short-lived this stage is.
- He's finally able to play with others without constant supervision. Now that he's better able to communicate, he's a way more fun playmate for his 6-year-old sister and for his similarly aged friends. They spend hours playing made-up games that I don't have to be a part of, and they only end up in tears about half the time — a much better percentage than I was getting a year ago. Sure, it's baby steps, but my 4-year-old is a baby no more. And that's pretty fantastic.