3 under 3

10 things about Tiernan, aged 4 years.

Posted on: July 12, 2011

Golly gosh, you’re 4 already! How did that happen? My baby is rapidly disappearing, and becoming a big, beautiful boy.

How do I love thee, let me count the ways:

1. I love how articulate you are. I love hearing your thoughts tumble out. I’m beginning to realise how much you think about things, and it’s like discovering a new side of you that I didn’t know before. I find myself having to resist interrupting your train of thought, because you often answer your own questions, in a nut-shell, completely on your own. It’s so adorable when you use grown-up words out of context, eg. “It’s awfully rainforest, isn’t it?” Or when you mispronounce things, like ‘coot’ for ‘cute’ and ‘good welkins’ for ‘you’re welcome.’ And you still say ‘pink-a-boo!’

2. I will never be able to get enough of your special cuddles. The ones that you spontaneously come to me with. Often with an, “I love you, Mum,” thrown in. You’ve even started wanting kisses on the lips, which I’m getting used to (I’ve always kissed my babies all over, but rarely on the lips, for some reason. Which is odd, as I definitely remember being kissed on the lips by my parents. And grandparents.) Anyway, your kisses are fab. And so is that twinkle you get in your eye, big cheeky grin and all, when you tell me you love me.

3. You got a bike for your birthday, and you were simply bowled over by your good fortune at receiving one. I’ve often thought we have too many toys in our house (we’ll blame well-intentioned grandparents for that), and I worry that you may become ungrateful (okay, spoilt) if you continue to get your every heart’s desire. However, you LOVE the bike your Dad and I picked out for you. And you tell us how wonderful it is every time you ride it. The first time you tried it out, you were so excited that you jumped off and ran to me for a hug. I tried to give you a quick kiss, too, but, squirming out of my arms, you said, “Mum, I can’t kiss you with my helmet on.” As you ran off, you shouted over your shoulder, “I’d better go and ride my bike again.” But before you hopped back on, you stopped to admire it for a few seconds, listing all of its important features (brakes, a bell, stars), appreciatively. And nearly a week after receiving your bike, you’re still saying, “Mum, it’s amazing that I have a bike!” I’m enjoying watching you learn to ride (training wheels on for now, until you grow into it a bit more). Your joy and enthusiasm are all the thanks I’ll ever need.

4. You’re starting to get how to play games. ‘Turn-taking’ suddenly has meaning. Your Dad introduced you to ‘hide and seek’ a few months ago, and you and Molly have been playing it, sometimes without any input from me. Usually, the Seeker counts to ten (I use the term ‘counts’ loosely), while the Hider hides in one of the three hiding places in your shared repertoire (behind Molly’s door, the toy bin in the play room, or in the cupboard in your bedroom). There are countless other places you could hide, but they haven’t occurred to either of you yet. The Seeker may or may not indicate that they have finished ‘counting’, and the Hider may or may not have actually hidden, before you both rush to meet in the hallway, shouting “Here I am!” Then you say “Your turn!” before swapping roles. The game, in fact, bears almost no resemblance to ‘hide and seek’. But you both love it and it keeps you occupied. If I’m involved in the game, we do it better. Other games you are starting to enjoy include dominos, memory and marbles. Although, our version of marbles is simply rolling them on the floor and hoping they don’t all disappear under the couch, as I have no idea how to play properly.

5. We played ‘Singstar’ at your birthday party, and you absolutely rocked! You didn’t do a lot of actual singing, although you did try. Mostly you hummed into the microphone while busting some very groovy moves. You’ve definitely got rhythm. At one point, you said, “Look, I can wiggle my bottom and tap my foot at the same time!” which you then demonstrated, to resounding applause. I hope your enthusiasm for dancing never wanes. In fact, I would love for you to join a boy’s dance class, before you learn that dancing isn’t a ‘boy’s’ thing, because the whole gender thing is really hitting home with you, at the moment. More on that later.

6. As always, I am so proud of you for being the lovely big brother that you are. Well, most of the time. Admittedly, you can be quite horrible to your sisters at times. But you love them, and you do your best to share with them, in your limited, 4-year-old way. You give Molly a big kiss and cuddle before bed every night. You give her hugs or offer her toys when she’s upset. You fetch things for Neave. You cuddle Neave and try to help her climb on things (which is a no-no, but you mean well). And I think you really miss them when you are at preschool on Wednesdays. I sometimes wonder how different you might be if you didn’t have a sibling only 15 months younger than you (and another one 3 years younger). You don’t remember a time without Molly, as you were still only a baby when she arrived. You would have had more one-on-one time. We probably would have ventured out into the big world more. We would have been less stressed-out, I daresay. How has this stuff impacted you? How will it continue to impact you in the future? I don’t know. I can only try and compensate for it as best I can. I guess this is me reminding myself to take time out with you whenever I can.

7. You’re already 4 – I’m learning more and more that time is short. The night before your birthday, you asked me to lay with you in your bed while you went to sleep, as you sometimes do. I wasn’t keen – I had a cake waiting to be decorated and didn’t want to spend all night on it. But I agreed to lie with you quietly for a little while. While I lay there, stroking your hair and face, I was transported in time to the night before your birth. I pictured my 23-year-old self, lying in a hospital bed, trying to calm my nerves and get some sleep. So much has happened in those four years, but I still remember all of the feelings I had, knowing that I was going to be induced the next morning, but not knowing how things were going to turn out. I am not a particularly spiritual person, but I couldn’t help feeling a deep connection between myself that night, before it all began, and the woman and mother that I have become in the years since. If I could, I would have sent myself a mental picture of you, my four-year-old boy, and the message: This is him. He’s perfect. You’ll both be fine. What am I trying to say here? I guess I’m saying that, Tiernan, you are teaching me so much about myself. You are my firstborn, so every stage we enter together is new and surprising! I am so grateful for the bond we share, and that you are the one I am sharing it with, for the first time. Molly and Neave will each have their own turn, but the first time will always be with you, and that is special. I love you.

8. I love the deep and meaningful conversations we’ve been having lately. Most of them are about death, actually – your choice of topic, not mine! You ask why everyone will eventually die, and we talk about how sad it is when someone dies because we will miss them and won’t get to see them again. But then we also talk about how we can remember and love that person, and keep them in our hearts, forever. You don’t understand a lot of what I’m saying, having never experienced losing someone yet (and touch wood, it doesn’t happen soon). But I think you do understand the general idea, and that no matter what happens in life, there will be people here around you to help you get through it. We also have long conversations about other things that worry you or interest you. These chats make me feel closer to you in a new and special way, because I guess it’s starting to feel like I’m your friend as well as your playmate / provider of food and comfort / nurturer. You are really growing up, now. And instead of feeling sad and wistful about you not being a baby anymore, I’m actually getting really excited about all the stuff I’ll get to teach you and show you.

9. I love being able to ask you to help me with stuff, and you actually do it. Little things like fetching me a nappy for Molly or Neave if I forgot to get one, getting your clothes out of the drawer, putting something away for me, or finding your own hat and putting on your shoes by yourself. It’s really great not having to do every tiny little thing for everyone.

10. You are getting better at staying dry at night. As long as one of us puts you on the toilet for a sleepy wee before we go to bed, then you usually will be fine until morning. The only time you’ll wet the bed is when you’re sick. So proud of you, and so happy to be washing your sheets less often again!


And onto the harder part:

1. Sometimes your smart-arse, 4-year-old attitude is unbearable. There, I said it. You answer back, you argue, you nit-pick. You sometimes even spit, although not so much, lately. Then, when you don’t get your own way, you very articulately state “I don’t like you, Mummy,” before either storming off, or throwing a tantrum, depending on how ‘grown up’ you’re feeling. I’ve begun the thankless (perhaps even futile) task of pointing out the difference between not liking someone and not liking what they do, which I’ve always tried to differentiate in my own language. For example, I tend to say, “That was naughty,” rather than “Naughty boy.” Now I am trying to teach you the same.

2. Your ‘silly’ moods are almost as bad as your smart-arse moods. You pull faces, make stupid noises, do weird things to get a laugh. It usually comes on when you’re getting over tired, and is funny for about five minutes, but after that it’s just irritating. Possibly it annoys me so much because I remember doing the exact same thing myself!

3. You’ve worked out that doing little things to irritate Molly gets a big, satisfying reaction. You poke her, she screams. You grab her toys, she screams. You stand too close to her, she screams. And after all of this screaming, I’m ready to join in and scream, too. Being an older sibling myself, I’m familiar with this trick. I used it often on my younger sister, and then basked in the warm glow of her fury when my poking, prodding and teasing was complete. Hilarious. Perhaps it’s karma that I now have to listen to you do the same to your sister. I can tell you that I’m not finding it very amusing now.

4. This isn’t your fault, but I’m completely over speech therapy practice! We’ve been taking you to a Speech Pathologist for your stutter. Although quite mild, it’s important that we address it because it’s much easier to eliminate now than it would be if we left it until later. You’ve responded very well to the therapy so far, and you’re definitely improving – so much so that the Speech Pathologist has also begun treatment on your lisp. But I’m really sick of trying to find time for practice every day. I’m sick of trying to find new and interesting ways of engaging your attention, and thinking of fun activities to do afterwards as rewards. Then I get really annoyed at myself because, seriously, how hard can five minutes a day be???? Plenty hard, especially when you constantly tell me that it’s much more fun with Karen (the Speech Pathologist). Grrr.

5. We’re still having problems with preschool. At the end of each weekend, when I tuck you in to bed and tell you what we’ll be doing tomorrow when Daddy goes to work, you sit bolt upright in bed and ask if you have to go to preschool tomorrow. I reply, “No, you’ve got three more sleeps until Wednesday.” Then two, then one. And then the dread really sets in and you beg me not to make you go. I’ve tried and and tried, and really can’t figure out what the problem is. I’ve finally come to the (tentative) conclusion that you must miss Molly and Neave, and feel left out because they both go to Family Day Care together while you are at preschool. And there’s really not much I can do about that. I just hope I’m right about this, and that you get over it soon, because having to leave you, crying, at preschool every week really makes me feel miserable.

6. You are really identifying strongly with ‘man’ things and ‘boy’ things at the moment. Almost all of your games involve boy characters doing things like chasing, racing, flying, fighting, rescuing, yelling, jumping, etc. etc. etc. You won’t eat from any plate that has pink on it. You won’t use the purple spoon. You even told me you didn’t like a story because there was a girl on the front of it. This is why I dread you discovering that dancing is widely believed to be a ‘girl’ thing. I know, from my child psychology studies ages ago, that this is a normal stage of development, but you are so over the top and unreasonable about your dislikes that I’m sometimes finding it difficult to deal with. According to four-year-olds, there are no grey areas. But I’m going to make it my mission to gently point some of the grey areas out for you. You may not accept or acknowledge them yet, but one day you might.

7. Sometimes, you’re pretty mean. Like when you look at the dinner I’ve just spent an hour cooking and say ‘Yuck’ without even trying it. Or when you told me you didn’t like my hair. Of course I try not to take it to heart, but when you’re being deliberately hurtful, it’s quite hard not to be hurt!

As usual, I’m going to keep my ‘least favourite’ list shorter than my ‘favourite.’

By the way, here are some pics of Tiernan’s birthday cakes – I’m quite proud of them both. The first one was for his actual birthday, which was a preschool day. The second one was for the family party we had for him on the weekend. Yummy, and dinosaur-y. You’ll never guess what his favourite animal is at the moment…


2 Responses to "10 things about Tiernan, aged 4 years."

Such a lovely post Anna. It is hard to believe our babies are 4 (almost in my case) isn’t it? I guess they have taught us a lot. PS: I love the cakes.

[…] The scariest project I have ever taken on. Tiernan had Boris, from the Dinosaur Train, for his cake this year, and so Molly decided she wanted one too. I didn’t want to do the same dinosaur again, so I […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: