Tuesday, April 8, 2014


B loves to listen to music. His current favorite CD is Madonna's Immaculate Collection (I wonder who prompted that one…) and his favorite track is #14 (he memorizes the NUMBER of the songs so he can find it on the laptop and put it on…his work-around for not being able to read). You know the one "So tired of broken hearts and losing at this game..Before I start this dance, I take a chance, in telling you I want more than just romance…" (totally appropriate 4-year old boy song, but at least better than the one he used to like "Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me, I think they're OK…") We like to put it on and have a little dance party. B, L, and I can really break it down!

B at 4 is constantly fascinating and infuriating me. I love his curiosity, his humor, his love of words and puns and stories. We share little inside jokes, he tells me about his dreams, he asks some really great questions that force us both to learn about new topics (most recently, sewage treatment plants because "but what happens to the poop mommy?"). I love his enthusiasm for music, painting, mixing and seasoning in the kitchen, running and climbing. In many ways he's a typical kid, in others, he is decidedly unique. He once spent 30 minutes re-arranging our pile of shoes near the front door, trying and re-trying with single-minded determination to make them all fit on the boot tray like it was a game of Tetris. He tells me he wants to be a girl so he can have long hair and wear barrettes, but the next day he wants a haircut because he can't see when hair is in his face.

I can't stand the whining, the feigned helplessness, the constant "I can't do it" and "I NEVER get to do xyz" (with xyz=something he was literally just doing, but had to stop for health/safety/time reasons).
He's smart, but he doesn't like to try, which worries me for his future. I am trying to instill a growth mindset, but he is pretty stubborn in his insistence that he "can't do anything"(swimming, soccer, putting his clothes on) because its not easy. He is just as stubborn in his insistence that he actually does "know everything"(how to keep himself safe, choose healthy foods) when he doesn't like what we are trying to teach him. He likes to make excuses for his bad behavior, or shunt the blame to someone/something else; I assume this is normal behavior for 4 year olds and 20 years and 40 year olds alike.

My time with B is full of contradictions. I both look forward to and dread the morning and bedtime routines. I can't wait for the weekend, and can't wait for it to be over some times. I am cherishing the joyful moments, and slogging through the monotony of constant reprimanding/scolding/reminding. As G said it so succinctly this weekend "This parenting thing is HARD". But awesome. Really awesome.

But also hard.


  1. 1) like a prayer (whole album) was my fave as a child.
    2) loved hearing about B. can't imagine what a will be like at 4! is L as quirky, or more laid back?

  2. Your DC1 sounds a lot like my DC1 in terms of reactions to stuff that's hard. It's really tough. Our solution was to start him in kindergarten early(!), but it still takes some work to push that growth mindset. Let me dig up our post on preschool perfectionism. We've also got later posts, pretty much every time we hit those perfectionist tendencies.

    My DC2 is very different-- she always wants to do things herself and she's always trying to do things she doesn't know how to do yet. She seems to have been born with an iron will and a growth mindset.

    1. http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/preschool-perfectionism/

  3. Exactly. Hard and awesome.
    And no one tells you how hard it is. Either that, or I had no ear for that sort of thing. Probably both.

  4. I feel like I could have written this exact post about Evan who's 3.5. DH and I have had a lot of "this parenting this is hard" conversations lately too!

  5. I loved Material Girl at that age, too! Of course, I had no idea what it was about. :) And that is still a great album.

    J doesn't like to try anything himself, either. I think like Nicole/Maggie said, he wants it to be perfect, and doesn't want to try if it's not going to turn out just right. I'm not always sure what to do about it.

  6. Work at praising him for how hard he works at trying and learning. Tell him how much you like his willingness to work hard ... how many times he tried walking and Now What An Expert! Because he works to learn. Then talk about how everyone sometimes can't do every thing at the first try and how wonderful it is that he has always (he walks and talks now which he didn't do as a new born) been one who keeps trying. Demonstrate that it is ok to try and fail and try again. SO important for children to learn this.

  7. Yeah, somewhere along the way, mothers stopped communicating/showing how hard motherhood is. The media idolizes celebrity mothers who seemingly have it all -- great husbands, gorgeous kids, great bodies, money to burn- without showing the day in/day out monotony that parenting is. Yes, there is something reassuring in the hum, the predictability. But, it is DRAINING. Do you know that yesterday I actually said to my older son, "I've been telling you for 5 yrs NOT to tip back in your chair. Ever since you did so at day care and ended up with a golf ball size knot from whacking the concrete floor, I've been reminding/prodding/yelling at you not to tip back in your chair. Five years is a LONG time. Do you think you can just NOT tip back in your chair any more?"

    By the way, my older 7 is seven and, as they say, little kids, little problems, bigger kids, bigger problems. Truth in that.

  8. Maybe we could make an automated response system that somehow triggers to say: take your finger out of your nose, sit on your bum, use your manners please, use your inside voice, no you can't have ice cream for (insert breakfast, lunch, dinner), don't stick your hand in there (leave this one generic as there's lots of places the hands go), you have to try at least one bite. I agree that the constant parental guiding that must happen was kept a secret!

  9. Great little peek into 4! Of course, my 4s will be different, but I'm sure there will be some common threads... It does sound hard. Really hard. And really worth it.