Every year on Daniel’s birthday, I feel like I spend the day fighting back tears. I incessantly beg time to slow down, so I can savor one more minute of him at this age. Daniel is growing up, and I cannot accept it.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I wrote about how I was pregnant with a baby and was dumping perfectly good wine down the sink to hide my pregnancy? I SWEAR that it was only two days ago when Daniel was clomping down the hallway in new shoes, just learning how to walk. And wasn’t it only last week that I was crying about him moving out of the crib and into his big boy room? How, how, HOW is it possible that I am the parent of a four year old??
Daniel is smart. He loves books and learning and will spout out the most random facts any chance he gets. He remembers every detail of what I think are very trivial, unimportant things, but he thinks are very important and not to be ignored or passed over.
Daniel is imaginative. The last few months have been amazing for Daniel’s imagination. At the beginning of the school year, Daniel was the kid who said, when other kids were crawling around on the floor saying they were dogs, “But you’re not a dog, you’re a kid.”😑 But now he pretends plastic golf clubs are Maui’s hook, tells me Elijah went out the window when he is in fact under the blanket still in his crib and uses a wrapping paper tube to row his boat down the hallway.
Daniel thrives on routine. Before bed every night we talk about what we will do in the morning. If in the morning we deviate from the plan it is a big disaster. We tell him what to expect when we go places, and when we’ve finished one activity he announces what is next on our agenda. He often asks for the plan, and we do our best to give it to him. We work on talking through unexpected schedule changes and staying calm instead of acting out.
Daniel is a sass mouth. He has to have the last word; he goes from zero to one hundred; and he can scream with the best of them. I have no idea where he gets this. None.
Daniel is loving. He often will look up from what he’s doing to tell Peter and I that he loves us, and he is always, always up for a biiiiiiiiiig kiss, hug or snuggle. He loves cuddling on the couch exclaiming, “Let’s get cozy!” and bringing a blanket over. He will still crawl in our bed when he’s up before our alarms go off in the morning. He wants to hold our hands as we walk him into school.
Daniel LOVES Elijah. He wants to wake Elijah up in the morning so they can play. He wants to sit by Elijah at the little table to eat a snack and always wants Elijah to follow him. He tells Elijah what to do, and like the good brother he is, Elijah always does it. Daniel is incredibly affected when Elijah goes into timeout, much more so than when he himself has to go in timeout. When Elijah when into his first timeout, Daniel sat at the kitchen table sobbing with real tears, “You can’t do that to my brother! My brother can’t sit in time out!” He is starting to be lost without his brother by his side.
Daniel loves movies and music. He can reenact entire scenes after he sees something one time. If he ever starts talking and it doesn’t make any sense, we just need to ask “Where is that from?” and we know he’s quoting a movie. He will often assign everyone a character and for days only call or refer to us by our assignment, getting upset when we forget and, God forbid, call him Daniel instead of Captain Hook. He sings along to songs in the car and will often correct us if we sing the wrong lyric at the wrong part.
Daniel likes having choices. In the mornings he chooses each item clothing – dark jeans or light? Star Wars shirt or striped? Shark or Mickey Mouse undies? He likes to know what his options are, weigh them out and then make a decision. Yogurt or applesauce with dinner? Fan on or off when he goes to sleep? Sheet or no sheet on his bed? His life runs much more smoothly when he has a say in how it goes.
Daniel is independent. He would often rather read a book or play with animals by himself than join the larger group of friends. This aspect of his personality has been a challenge for me. As a very social extrovert, who will almost always choose to be with someone else rather than alone, I worried. Was Daniel making friends? Did kids not like him? Was he lonesome and sad? Yes he was making friends; yes kids liked him and no, no he was not lonesome and sad. It took a long time, and I’m still working on this, to realize that alone does not mean lonely.
Daniel adores his dad. He has always been more of a daddy’s boy than a mama’s boy. He runs to the door when Peter gets home from work, ready to greet him and tell him something important. I bribe him to let me spray down his hair by telling him, “But don’t you want to be handsome like Daddy?” He prefers Peter dropping him off at school or the babysitter’s and just loves when he gets to go to the store with just Dad.
People have often asked me what my favorite age is with my kids. To be totally honest, I like them all, for very different reasons. This age has been a challenge, with Daniel bordering on the line between being a kid and being a toddler, pushing limits far past where I’d like him to. Confidently know what he likes and what he doesn’t, what he wants to do and what he’d like to skip.
But on the other hand, this age is so much fun. We can have a conversation and make jokes and be silly. He is proud of himself when he does something great. He is confident in his choices. He always ends the day with a hug and a kiss and an “I love you,” even if he is upset.
I could not be more proud or more in awe of the person our Daniel is becoming.
Our Daniel is four.