I can't believe I am actually writing this, but my tiny baby will be 4-yrs-old by the time anyone reads this!!!
Sadly, our main computer is having trouble, so I am on Aaron's work laptop, and therefore can't attach any cool pics of Ben and his birthday, but I still wanted to take a few mintues to reflect on this next birthday of Ben's, and on my thoughts of having a 4-yr-old. I'll post some pics of the birthday boy as soon as I am able. And I apologize ahead of time for how rambling this will be!!!
Wow...4...another year grown and passed. Really, what else can I say other than that he is a total joy to me, a blessing that I cherish endlessly, and more than I could have ever hoped for in a son. He is just so amazing in so many ways.
I don't "know" everything about his personality yet, of course, but with each passing month, we are starting to get a more clear picture of who he is becoming. He has left the dependence of toddlerhood far behind, and is (mostly) bravely forging ahead into the world of a child. He is just starting to "get" friends, though his friendships are still heavily based on those with whom we socialize. At preschool in particular, however, where most of the kids are new aquaintances, there are some children that he gravitates more toward, and some that don't seem to be a good fit.
Just this morning, in fact, I saw it clearly. First, let me share that he still gets nervous when I leave him at preschool. It is hard for me every...single...day. Not "I might pull him out and never make him leave the house again" hard, but more like "he's so sweet and has to work to be brave and I can't wait until this passes for him!" hard. And he LOVES preschool, its just the part of me leaving the door that is hard. But recently, he has started to enjoy playing with 2 of the kids in paricular, a girl named Gabrielle, and a boy named Xavier. Well today, as I walked out, I could see him standing there fighting tears for a moment. But then Gabrielle walked up and she said something to him, and within about 5 seconds, he was skipping around the room with her and they were both laughing their heads off. SO sweet.
So it is fun to start to see his social world develop. In addition, his imagination is also growing rapidly these days. He is currently in the "extrapolation" mode of thinging. He is constantly asking a starter question, and then expanding it into further and further possible issues or situations. Like yesterday, I told him that he had to get his shoes on because I had to leave the house and I couldn't leave him home alone. So he asked WHY I couldn't just leave him there. After I tried to just brush him off by saying that the "good guys" a.k.a. the police, would put me in jail for making that decision and leaving my kids without someone to care for them, he then asked about 15 follow-up questions. Things like, "What would the good guys say to you?" "Where would they take you?" "How would you feel?" "What would you say to them?" "When would you come home?" etc.
In the end, I learned 2 important lessons. #1: He is getting much smarter and more broad in his thinking. and #2: There really is a time and place for the mom just saying "Because I said so!"
And I'm sure this is no surprise to anyone, but he is still a HUGE train fan! Really, it is so fun. And he's surprisingly serious about it. It's not as if he just likes the Thomas movies and characters, he actually likes seeing and learning about real trains and train yards. Just a few weeks ago, we were watching one of his train movies, which is really just a train documentary not even meant for kids, but still one of his favorites. And out of the blue he lets out a huge sigh. I asked him what was wrong, and he dramatically announced, with all the flair of a 13-yr-old girl, "I just don't like being a kid anymore! I just wish I could grow up RIGHT NOW so I could be a train engineer!" Awww...buddy, hang in there:)
He is back in to playing "baby" again. He liked it about 6 months ago, then let it drop, but has recently brought it back full force. He likes to pretend that he is a baby and wants me to coo and snuggle him. He talks in baby talk and asks for me to "nuggle" him. In all honesty, it's not my favorite game. I would much rather sit and read stories with him or something, but I am sure that it is one way for him to get some amount or type of attention that is is otherwise not getting, so I try to play along for a while. And it's never disruptive...meaning he doesn't pretend to be a baby so he doesn't have to pick up the toys or something, so it seems fine at this point. And it is sweet sometimes to hold him for a minute and remember when he actually was a baby and to think about how much he has grown. And, honestly, he's a 4-yr-old boy...I should be jumping for joy at any chance I can still get to hold him and snuggle him for a bit!
One difficult thing I will mention is that he has been REALLY hot and cold lately. He's either in a fabulous mood and playing baby and wanting lots of love and snuggles, or he's just furious and totally sure that I am the meanest mom in the whole, entire universe. I don't even know how many times I have heard, "I am never going to love you again!" this month! He will be going along fine, and then I will make some small change, or announce that we have to go somewhere or stop what we are doing for some reason, and he is SO upset. I am pretty confident that it is exactly what he should be doing at this age, developmentally, so it doesn't worry me, but it sure is a huge pain!! You never know for sure when you are going to cross his line...he's like a ticking time bomb. Argh!
One other good thing, though, has been that he is "playing" with Molly a lot more these days. They will run around the house like crazy and make up silly noises and make up little games together between the 2 of them. And when he is enjoying a good book or fun toy, he often will seek her out to invite her to join too. There are still plenty of times when he is in her face or wants her to go away, but it is so neat to see the sibling relationship between them continue to grow.
He really is such a source of joy to me. I still remember vividly seeing him and holding him the first instant of his life. I still have so many sense memories from his first few weeks and months. There are times that I honestly can't believe how much time has passed, and I am amazed that I have been capable of bringing that tiny baby foward all these years...and now that tiny baby is a 4-yr-old preschooler! I hope for and pray for the strength to continue growing into the mother that he needs, and into the mother that I was meant to be. It's funny that to him, I am just "Mom", but to me, I am just a person who is constantly striving to do good by him, while also remembering that it is a future adult that I am raising, not some helpless child. Walking the line between protecting him and pushing him forward is much more intricate and difficult than I ever imagined.
But I sure do love him...with all that I have to offer as a mother. And I can't wait to see what the next year brings!
Happy Birthday, Benjamin Aaron Schiltz!