Four

My son is four.  I've written about it before.  A few times, actually.  Four is just so damn amazing, surprising, joyful and funny.  Like hilarious funny.  Like Louis C.K. funny.  Capital "F" Funny.

This week, driving in the car together, my boy, out of the blue, said, "I wish there was a medicine the doctor could give me so that I could stay this age." WOW.  How cool would that be?  Can you imagine?  So much wonder to absorb.  But then I would roughly spend one third of my remaining life waiting for him to put on his shoes.  It would be my new sleep.

Having successfully come through the challenging aggressive phase of last spring (knocking on the wood surface of my writing desk furiously), what's left are the joys of four.  I honest to goodness enjoy spending time with my boy. We go on adventures together and it feels like the most exclusive club I have ever been in.  It's he and I against the world.

We call it Camp Mom, but the boy usually calls it CAMP MOM! as in "CAMP MOM! goes to the Botanic Garden!  CAMP MOM! goes to the beach!  CAMP MOM! goes to the museum!  CAMP MOM! goes to Target!"  All he needs is a snack, a book, a toy for the car, and a bottle of water and we are good to go.

Sigh.  Would that all of life were so simple.

Even my boy at four knows that it's not.  After he wished for the medicine that would keep him four forever (which, having lost my daughter at four breaks my heart just a wee bit too much), he then went on to talk about all the responsibilities that grown ups have that he is not looking forward to having. "Like what?" I asked.  Well, for starters, fixing dinner every night.  And having to put your kids in time-out when they act up.  And bills and cleaning. Hmmm. He had a pretty good handle on the responsibilities of adulthood.

I explained to the boy that all of those responsibilities come on gradually, not all at once.  And that part of growing up is learning the skills to handle all that responsibility.  This is what I think he heard:

It's okay.  I'm old enough to realize that he teaches me more than I will ever teach him.  Today I asked him what he most likes about being four, primarily so that I could exploit his thoughts for this whole mom blogger gig.  Do you know what his answer was?  "I can crack an egg and open it."  Freaking brilliant.

"I can crack an egg and open it."  That right there is a lesson in living in the moment, appreciating the moment.  I can crack an egg and open it, too, but being quite a bit older than four, I focus way more on the runny goo that drips down the side of the bowl every time I crack an egg rather than the joy of independence and satisfaction in mastering a task.

Most every day this summer I woke up and thought about the many hours that I would need to fill with my boy until Daddy got home and the business of dinner and bedtime took over.  What would we do today was a common question posed to me just seconds after blearily opening my eyes.  What would we do today? I would think to myself, with a little bit of panic mixed in for good effect.

I wish I had thought to tape these words to my mirror.  I wrote them myself for a piece I did for Huffington Post about being the mother of a child who died:

Life is full of wonder.
I will always and forever, for as long as I live, be the mother of a 4-year-old. A beautiful, clever, smart, and creative 4-year-old. Four-year-olds know a lot of things that we manage to forget as we grow into adulthood. They see and appreciate the wonder of the world around them. Dandelions are not a nuisance; they are a sweet smelling flower worthy of a vase on the kitchen counter. A rainy day is not something to be avoided, but an opportunity to stomp in puddles. Public transportation is not the awful thing that happens to you when your car breaks down, but an adventure. See the wonder, appreciate the wonder, don't lose the wonder. Find it every day.

Well, with school starting next week, I am so damn proud of me and my boy. We rocked four this summer.  We squeezed the ever loving wonder out of four.  Sure, there was probably too much screen time here and there, and yes, there was grump from both of us, and more than once I tagged my husband as he walked through the door at 6:30 -- "You're it."  But, for the most part, man, we had a great summer.

I think we have four to thank for that.  Thank you, four!  You are one damn fine age.  I will miss you, and promise to remember you fondly.

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