A little bittersweet for me, knowing that as my one and only, going forward, four feels like his last year of "baby-ness" - I need to soak in this last year - every "r" pronounced like "w", the roundness of his cheeks... I have never really shed tears over a birthday before, but I found myself getting a wee bit verklempt the morning of his birthday as this cliche thought rang in my head: My baby is growing up!
We started the morning with a bowl of special birthday oatmeal (i.e., the way we usually prepare it BUT with sprinkles!), a small present, and then his swim lesson (he started class last week)... I heard his instructor randomly ask how old he was (not knowing it was his birthday), and he said grandly, "I'm four years old!" And of course it didn't get due response from her since she had no idea that he turned four just today. Same thing happened at IHOP, where I took him for his birthday lunch (requested meal? "Pancakes and bacon!")... his showing the waitress his shirt with the 4 on it and saying, "I have turned 4!" got little more than an "Oh, yeah?" from waitress, since of course he never said, "It's my birthday!" But he didn't seem to mind much. :-) It was pretty low-key today, with a few more presents throughout the day and time making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and playing with presents. It feels more like a birthday week since he started opening presents Sunday before Daddy left for his business trip. This Friday he and I will catch Winnie the Pooh at the theater, then Saturday will be spent at an interactive museum, and Sunday we'll celebrate his birthday with family.
I don't know if it's age creeping up on me or if this past year has just gone by in a blur... or maybe it's the fact that it's late, but I can't get my thoughts straight! So here's my stream-of-consciousness ramble about the past birthday year (little-known fact: I once aspired to be a writer. Glad I didn't - I suck at this!!):
LO started his first year of preschool last fall. Initially it was pretty rough for him, so he was transferred to a smaller class with other kids who were having trouble adjusting, and he flourished in many ways, though because of the broad age range in this class he wasn't challenged as much as I had hoped. But his teacher was a kind, caring person and it was good exposure to social situations with other children as well as taking direction from other adults.
I can say with confidence that LO is completely potty-trained as of last fall. He also is much more confident going in public restrooms and has recently begun (mild TMI alert) standing up to pee, which is a HUGE deal for Mommy, especially when we go out with Daddy, because urinals are a wonderful thing (or not - ew - but they're awfully convenient).
This spring, his speech has changed a lot! No more "bewy" for "belly" or "mudzer" for "mother". His "r's" still lean toward the "w" sound. He went from using his entire arm to write (moving it at the shoulder) and holding his crayon like a pointer to correct grasp and resting his forearm on the table. He loves to write and often misspells things phonetically, and we still have to remind him that letters have to be placed on the page in a certain order and from left to right. He is beginning to read more and more, but he doesn't like to be "quizzed" - he's much more forthcoming with it if it feels like self-discovery but is slowly beginning to have fun with it when we ask him what something says. Also, he's finally making peace with the fact that his name isn't spelled phonetically!
Among other firsts that I'm sure I'm forgetting (ugh), this past year he had his first (and hopefully last, at least for a while!) trip to the ER (for a pretty severe cough), first movie theater (Kung Fu Panda 2) experience, first time in the pool without mommy and without a life preserver (swim lessons). He loves to draw and makes elaborate pictures, most oftentimes Thomas- or Cars-related, but sometimes animals and people, and he will draw things from different perspectives (overhead, side, front). He's quite good at making block letters too! His current "cool" thing is to draw thought bubbles over someone's head. :-) (One day when I'm not feeling too terribly lazy, I'll dedicate a post to his artwork!). He likes to pepper his conversations with "Well...", "of course", "and I was, like...". He says things like "it's too medium-sized" and if something has 3 or more colors, it is "multi-colored". He thinks it's hysterical to talk about poop and other gross things. He likes to say he is grown and to say that his head is as big as Daddy's (maybe) or Mommy's (not a chance, kid!). He still very much loves Thomas the Tank Engine and Cars (Cars 2 was a BIG hit with him!) and also really enjoys Veggie Tales (most oft-requested: "Dave and the Giant Pickle"). When we get fresh veggies from my parents' garden, he wants to play with them. :-)
Since the spring, he has been going to OT and PT for sensory integration therapy, to work on his proprioceptive sensory issues, and we're seeing some good progress - mainly OT-related; sometimes he just doesn't feel as motivated to work on the PT stuff, so we are working on that. I cannot wait until the hot breath of summer lets up so that we can spend more time outside!
One thing that hasn't changed: he still makes taking his picture feel like herding cats! Here are some of my attempts at getting a 4-year pic - the "cutting of the eyes + cheesy grin", the "I can't stop laughing hysterically at your repeated pleas to get me to stop laughing", and finally, the "Really now, get this camera out of my face, yes?"
He doesn't mind pretending to be a horse or a puppy or some sort of animal, but ask him to pretend to be *somebody* and he's not quite sure what to do with himself. The other day, I told him I was going to pretend to be a princess, and he was quite unsettled by that. He said, "How about you just be Mommy, and I'll just pretend to be myself? I'll just be your little boy."
Forever and ever, little one.