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My son is a weird blend of hyperdeveloped and hypodeveloped. He didn’t have his ‘terrible twos’ until the middle of his fours. He’s about to turn five and he’s still not reading on his own. On the other hand, he potty trained himself at two years of age and hasn’t made a single mistake yet, and he can outperform most trained gymnasts of his age when it comes to rolls, flips, and headstands. He never had the ‘stranger danger’ phase — he loves everyone and every living non-insectoid creature, and is fairly convinced that they all love him back. He’s not what anyone expects, but everyone who gets to know him falls in love with him, even when he’s a pain in the ass.

My wife and I had a revelatory moment sometime around my son’s third-and-a-halfth birthday. He was being stupid, like you do, and she yelled, quite spontaneously, “What do you think you are, three years old?!?

Classic. But it put a lot of things into perspective for me. Yeah, he does stupid things. Yeah, it takes him 12 seconds to stop doing something after you tell him to stop, and then he starts again 12 seconds later if you don’t give him a good reason not to. Yeah, he’s really annoying sometimes…but he’s three four FIVE years old! Or at least, he will be on the 30th.

We shortened that question, over the last year and half, down to “because four.” Why is he leaping from the tuffet, grabbing onto the curtain, and swinging like Tarzan face-first into the bed? Because four. Why is he watching exercise videos on YouTube with the fanaticism of an endorphin junkie but the movement level of a drugged sloth? Because four. Why does he insist that every single dollar amount brought up in conversation has to end in “and ninety-nine eight hundred cents”? Because four.

Except he won’t be four anymore in a few days — and truth be told, the stupid things that he does are getting differently stupid. It would be hard to say they’re getting less stupid, but they’re getting more intelligently stupid, if that means anything.

Maybe it’s my whole attitude change about parenting, but they seem to be getting less annoying, too. Mostly. And funnier. Mostly.

In another six days, we’re going to have to start saying “because five” — and while I didn’t particularly notice a huge difference between “because three” and “because four” when it happened, it turns out that over the course of the year, “because four” evolved quite a bit. Well, except for the Tarzaning thing. And I hope I’m being accurate in my judgment when I say that I’ve evolved, too.

P.S. It’s my wife’s birthday today. She celebrated by losing her iPod and she’s freaking out about it. If you can spare a prayer for her, please do.

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