The other day I had to run upstairs for a second.
I asked you to watch Oliver and make sure he didn’t get close to the stairs.
You said, “Okay, Mommy!”
When I came back down a few seconds later, I found Oliver at the edge of the stairs, about to take a plunge down them.
I scooped him up and immediately scolded you for not watching him like I asked. It was only a few seconds – I thought you could handle that. I could feel the frustration building up in me.
“He could have gotten so hurt. Why weren’t you listening?!”
The look on his face broke my heart. You didn’t mean to get distracted. You would have been devastated had Oliver gotten hurt.
You’re only four.
But you also love to play. You get distracted (just like I do.) And Oliver is fast now.
You are only four.
While I was only gone for a few seconds, I shouldn’t have left you in charge. Had something happened, it would have been my fault – not yours.
But I know you would have felt so sad – because you are such a tender-hearted little boy.
It was only a few seconds, but it was a few seconds too long. Can I ask you to watch him when I’m in the room? Yes. But I probably shouldn’t put you in charge of making sure he doesn’t go down the stairs.
You are only four.
Every day I ask you not to get bigger. But then I often expect you to be older than you are. I unintentionally push you to grow up faster than you need to.
Sometimes you act older than you are – you hold intelligent conversations with adults. You love to help us around the house. You always talk about how you can’t wait to grow up.
But I need to remember, even if you want to be older, you aren’t. And I shouldn’t treat you like you are.
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You are only four.
While I need to teach you responsibility, I also need to remember that you’re only four.
You aren’t a babysitter.
You aren’t a professional cleaner.
You don’t always know right from wrong.
And I need to remember that before I scold you for not doing something – especially if it isn’t necessarily age appropriate.
I don’t want you to be afraid of making mistakes or telling me when you’ve done so because you are afraid I’ll be upset.
You constantly push the limits. Sometimes I need to let you so you can grow, but sometimes I need to reign it in and remind YOU that you are only four.
Fireworks scare you.
I shouldn’t make you sit closer if you don’t want to (and I’m glad I realized that and had a special time sitting with you on the porch instead.)
You love to be silly, make-up words, and make silly faces in 90% of pictures.
I shouldn’t tell you to stop just because I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a little kid who thinks everything is hilarious. I should be more like you.
You always want us to play with you.
I need to make sure I do that more, too. I’ll miss that someday.
You love to dance whenever you hear music. Even if it’s in the middle of a restaurant.
I should join you more.
You get sad about things I don’t understand.
I need to try and understand and validate your feelings. It’s far better than making you feel like you have to hide them. Things that seem silly or small to me might mean the world to you.
You Forgive So Easily.
When I get upset with you when I shouldn’t, I will apologize. You always tell me, “It’s okay mommy. You are the best mommy in the world.” I need to be more like that.
You are only four. And I’m going to remember that more.
But also remember, I’m just a mom.
This job doesn’t come with an instruction manual. I make mistakes, and I’m learning as I go, too. Most nights I go to bed, wishing I had done things differently. But I hope you’ll remember how much I love you, even if I fail at times. I’m doing the best I can to raise you to be a happy, respectful person.
I sometimes get caught up in the “don’t raise an entitled, disrespectful child” mindset, that I occasionally forget that I need to let you be a child.
I’m just a mom. And I love you so much. You and your brother are two of my greatest blessings, and I never want you to forget that.
Soon enough you’ll be five (as you remind me every other day.) And then ten. And then eighteen and getting ready to go out on your own.
You can’t wait. I wish time would slow down.
While there will be times I’ll have to remember you are only those ages too, at the same time, I’ll missing those times when you were only four.