In a comment on my last post, Jana said,

I am just going to ignore everything except the one about cuddling because I am trying to survive the SHITSTORM THREES over here and if you’re telling me that four is no better but in fact WORSE I might have some problems.

I know Jana knows this because she has an older child as well, but I know, too, that every child is different and her younger one HAS BEEN TALKING LIKE THIS FOR YEARS kind of like Fresco, which I suspect her older one did not (as mine did not), so OMG it’s going to get louder? I am quitting is a totally reasonable response.

I only had 20 minutes to write the last post so I didn’t get to a) the good things about Four, and b) my personal strategy for surviving it, other than earplugs and gin.

No, four is not worse than three. Really. In my house, anyway, so far, and bear in mind that we are still a few months from Four, so I reserve the right to change my mind / sell my kidney, buy an RV, and leave this town forever.

The tantrums are fewer, with Four, but they’re bigger. And meaner. Three (sometimes) accepts what you say at face value, then punishes you later with tantrums and you have no idea why. Four does not accept what you say, so it’s more straightforward. Four will respond immediately by refuting your statement, so you must remember to NOT ENGAGE in dumb arguments. This is key. You cannot — as I tend to do — argue about the sky being blue or not blue. You have to learn to say you are wrong, even if you aren’t. Because if you insist you are right, Four will argue with you until you are crying for mercy. And then you will be too tired to enforce the rules that matter, like no eating chocolate bars off the shelf while I buy groceries.

Listen. You are right. It doesn’t matter if your child believes you or not.

And lest you worry — as I tend to do — that setting a precedent for letting your child win an argument or believe that something is true when it is patently UNTRUE will result in him becoming some kind of sociopath, or bully, or right-wing nutjob, it won’t.

I think of developmental growth as like being in a tornado. You’re over there, and your mouth is moving, but your kid can’t hear you because he’s in a tornado. When he comes out of the tornado, your house will be messy, but he’ll be himself again. He learned a bunch of stuff while he was ‘away from you’, and now is ready to listen to your seminar on Manners and Cutlery Use.

He’s not going to make the connection: “I’m always right because Mommy agreed that the sky was yellow even though it was blue.” He doesn’t even remember that conversation. It had nothing to do with the sky and everything to do with CONTROL.

(however if you give in on the chocolate bar, even once, that one will come back to bite you)

I survive by not giving a toot about him eating his crusts, or him calling the table a stupid table, or saying he hates the cat, because it’s the intent behind it that he is immersed in and when he emerges from the bath of that intent, he will be cleaner and probably ready to love the cat / clear the table / eat the crusts.

And finally, some great things about almost-Four are:

1. Sustained concentration — 45 minutes building with Lego? Check.
2. Incredible imaginative play. (just make sure you let him be the director)
3. Wicked sense of humour / great bubbling giggles and belly laughs.
4. Ability to walk for miles without complaint.
5. Drawing faces.
6. Hugs still fix 80% of life’s ills.

Courtesy of Saint Aardvark, T.O.R.N.A.D.O by the Go! Team.

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