Monsieur is proudly telling people that he is four now. This has been a big milestone in his eyes and we have been hearing many tales of “When I was three, I couldn’t xyz; but now that I’m four, I can!” One day when a friend was visiting he came out and announced “We’re going to the railway playground”. By “we”, he meant himself, his friend (3 1/2 yrs old) and his friend’s brother (2 yrs old). When I pointed out that they needed a parent to go with them he declared “But I’m FOUR!!!” Apparently four is the age at which you can take yourself, and your friends, to the playground!
So where are things at with him now (since it’s been a year…)
Sleep: Continues brilliantly. I am still indebted to sleep school and the support structure they gave us. Even now, if he has a bad dream or is having trouble going to sleep, he will ask me to tap him. It amazes me how long-reaching and positive the effects have been, especially considering how scared I was of ruining our relationship and “breaking” our beautiful boy. He continues to be an early riser, but at the much more civilised time of 6am or thereabouts. Sometimes 7-7:30 on the weekends, and 5am when staying at someone else’s house! Many months ago we decided that the rule on weekends was “not before 7”. So even if we hear him awake and singing, we won’t go into him until after 7 am. Sometimes he’ll go back to sleep, sometimes he’ll chatter and sing until we go in, which can be up to an hour. But he won’t get out of bed. At all. It has been so bizarre. We switched him to a single bed last September, and I was ready for the prolonged bedtimes as he realised he had freedom to get in and out of bed. But no, nothing. He won’t get out of bed until we open the door in the morning. He just won’t. Until…this week. A couple of days ago for the first time he got out of bed and opened the door himself. Now we’re not allowed to open the door until he’s up. It still catches me by surprise how quickly these things can change and bam! you’re in a new phase.
Oh and naps are long gone. They tapered out last July, and now only happen if he’s really tired, but usually to the detriment of his bedtime, so it’s not something we encourage.
Food: Monsieur loves baking with me and tasting all the ingredients. Tonight we had tacos and he made his own for the first time; he made soft tacos with cheese, meat and sour cream, and loved it! He doesn’t like crunchy things, so salads are not popular with him, but he’ll eat all veggies cooked. I did have a moment yesterday of wondering how he was our son, when I suggested going to Koko Black to get a chocolate teddy pop and he responded “Oh, no. I don’t have time for that today”. No time for chocolate?! At the place where the manager invariably gives him extra chocolate??!! He later explained that he’d already had a treat that day when they had fairy bread and icy poles at kinder so he had had enough treats. Well, that blew my mind! May he always keep such awareness of his body and what it needs and doesn’t need. At 37, I still can’t do that enough. He did receive an insane amount of chocolate at Easter this year, but he paced himself. We left the chocolate in his room and the only rule was that he had to wait until after a meal to eat chocolate. His bowl of chocolate lasted over a month. I don’t think I ever showed such restraint as a child!
Banana and yoghurt are still a favourite meal; we always have to have bananas and yoghurt on hand, and cheese. He loves the mini babybel cheeses that you peel the wax off.
Language: He talks so much and tells such involved stories now. He still sings all the time, but now he has words to his songs. He’ll just make up little ditties about what he is doing at that moment. I love listening to them, but am almost never able to capture it on video.When I try to recall the songs later, they just slip away.
The constant “why” has well and truly hit home. Sometimes there seems to be a genuine question behind it, but sometimes it seems like he asks it automatically. We have started reminding him to ask a “full” question so that he will stop and think about what it is he is trying to ask. Sometimes the “why” questions can get frustrating, but usually when it feels like a cycle rather than a search of knowledge. I do feel my general knowledge is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of a curious child. Oh boy, is it inadequate. R is so much better at explaining the why of things, and at explaining the meaning of words.
I think that the last couple of regular mispronunciations have vanished – I haven’t heard a “pasghetti” or “washingshashamine” out of his mouth for some time. There are some new words that he has difficulty with at first, but he keeps practicing until he can pronounce them correctly. It is definitely hard to be objective though as his mum; sometimes he’ll say something and I notice another adult having a bit of trouble understanding him, but it was very clear to me. I think that sometimes he doesn’t finish his words clearly enough, but I know his speech patterns, so my brain fills in any missing pieces from his speech. However, he is good at repeating things more clearly when someone indicates that they haven’t understood him.
General Development: We seem to be in a period of sudden growth again in his abilities and confidence. All year we’ve been periodically trying to get him interested in getting himself dressed/undressed, and wiping his bottom. Suddenly, in the past week, he’s doing both, as well as getting himself up out of bed. It never rains but it pours; even in developmental growth! He can’t get his tops on or off, but pants, socks, shoes and jackets he has worked out. Kinder has been great for that; clearly the teachers have been teaching him some tricks to help.
And yes, he started kinder this year. Talk about a change. He has just blossomed. He is so happy there; even asking to stay in after kinder care just so he can be there longer! Given that he is there 8:30-2:45 five days a week already, this really impressed me. He has made some great friends there, and we’re seeing him gaining so much confidence and interest in trying more and more things. He can write his name now, and the other day he wrote “Papa” on a piece of paper, completely unprompted. He can also read or recognise the names of all his kinder classmates – there is a tray of stones at the door, each with a name on it. When the children arrive, they have to find their stone and place it in the bowl to show that they’ve arrived. Monsieur will check out the bowl and tell me who has arrived and who isn’t at kinder yet. He always looks for his best friend’s name first, and is sad if she’s ever not there.
He also started swimming lessons in second term. During the summer he was making great progress with his confidence and ability in the water, and started asking when he would be going to swimming lessons. He kept asking periodically in February and March, so finally in April we started swimming lessons for him. He absolutely loves it, and even participated in their swimathon a couple of weeks ago. He was so proud, and happy to get extra time in the pool. He is also regularly asking us to take him to the local pool on weekends. His water baby tendencies have definitely emerged.
As well as being a complete water baby, like his mumma, he is also a complete cat boy. We have whole mornings where most of our conversation is in meows and purrs! He’ll follow me around, just like a cat, and smooch against my legs, and snuggle into my lap whenever possible. It is pretty adorable. He has declared that Shakti is his cat and Jai is Mummy and Daddy’s cat, “because Jai doesn’t like me”. True enough. Jai tolerates him, sometimes, but Shakti loves him. She always comes in for storytime, and loves to hang out with him and his friends. For a jumpy kitty, she really does like to be in amongst all the kids.
Monsieur is really coming into his own. He knows what he likes and wants, and knows what he doesn’t like. He has decided this year that he doesn’t want his hair cut; he says that the hair hurts when it is cut. He wants his hair long and he even combs it when I tell him that he has to comb and look after his hair properly if he wants it long. From the boy who hates having his hair washed or combed, that is a big thing. He has remained adamant that pink is his favourite colour, telling me earlier this year when I asked him his favourite colour, “Pink! It’s still pink. It’s going to be pink forever!” I have overheard him standing up for his love of pink a few times now, and it makes my heart so happy to hear him so firm in himself in the face of opposition. Yet, he is so quick to mimic actions, behaviours and words of other children. He only has to see or hear something once and he’ll be trying it for months. Or weeks at the least. It’s strange to see how he can be so sure of himself in some regards yet so susceptible to others’ influence in other ways. It’s painful to watch when he picks up a behaviour that is just not him, but he’s decided that it’s cool because that’s what so-and-so does. I can really see how much influence a peer group can have on a child, and sometimes it’s scary to think about. We are so lucky that his kinder class is such a lovely group.
Favourites: Trains remain a firm favourite. We recently stayed with friends who had an enviable train set in their house; he was very happy to sit there for ages playing with the trains! We went to the Sandringham Train Expo in March and spent all day there; even getting to know some of the exhibitors who commented that we were *still* there. He was entranced by all the model railways. Whilst in Brisbane last week, we took him to The Workshop Rails Museum in Ipswich; he told me he didn’t ever want to leave that sort of place.
An equal favourite would be the TV show, Blaze and the Monster Machines, which we found completely by accident one day when browsing YouTube videos. We are fans of it too; great characters and it teaches STEM concepts in a way that is easy to understand without dumbing things down, which Monsieur will then refer to in everyday life. It was really made an impression on him. I do hope they continue this show. So far it has only had one season. He received a special package in the mail today from a lovely friend in America who bought the die-cast models of the characters for him as they are not available here. All day he has been playing games with these monster trucks, and tonight his favourite, Blaze, went to bed with him.
His love of books continues, and we have introduced him to Dr Seuss in the last couple of months. He loves “The Sneetches”, but we have read “Red Fish, Blue Fish” a fair amount too. He also has discovered Grug books, and loves all books by Mo Willems. Lynley Dodd books are on rotation too, with Scarface Claw being his first hero! He loves listening to audio books in the car and a friend just told me about the library’s audio book borrowing service so I will be checking that out in the next month or so.
He still loves to play hide and seek, and is getting better at hiding now. Sometimes, he won’t even sing to let us know where he is!
How am I feeling? I am so delighted that the transition to kinder has gone so well. It’s been a bit of a stressful year at home, so it has been really wonderful for him to have such stability and continuity at kinder. I was relieved that he settled in so well and so quickly. I really wasn’t sure what to expect or how he would be, going from being with me all the time to being in kinder five days a week. So many people asked me how I would be and warned me that I would miss him terribly. But it was the right time for both of us. He has relished having so much time with children his own age, and getting to do things that I wouldn’t necessarily get around to at home. I have relished having head space to do some of the things that I’ve been wanting to do. The first day, after putting him to bed I sat down and suddenly felt like I’d barely seen him all day, but apart from that one night, I haven’t really missed him. Maybe it would be different if I weren’t working, but last year it was so hard juggling work whilst looking after him and feeling constantly torn between him and all the things that needed doing. I felt like I was doing everything badly. Now I can focus on work when I go to work, I can focus on the house or organisational projects when I’m home and I can focus on Monsieur after I pick him up each day. At least, that’s how I see the next term panning out – as I mentioned, this year had a stressful start so this wonderful sounding lifestyle hasn’t actually worked out for longer than two weeks at any time, if that!