Sorry to those of you who got the "draft" update. Stupid Blogger. Not only ate my post, but posted a draft. *Grumble* Please pretend you didn't see that and enjoy this rewritten version.
...and now we are the parents of a four and a half year old!
The Bean at four and a half is a kid with big ideas and strong opinions who does not like to be told what to do. He is active and playful and articulate and loving. Being his parent is a joy and a challenge.
There is no doubt that language continues to be an area of strength for The Bean. He is incredibly articulate and has quite a sophisticated vocabulary. He loves playing with new words. He also loves making up words, telling us what they mean, and using them in conversation.
Recently he has started reading, which is just amazing. He's got a good number of sight words (Dolch) and can figure out most CVC words which means that beginning readers are the perfect level for him right now. Surprisingly, he also seems to be reading some longer/more obscure words. I'm not sure if he's actually reading or just figuring out what things say given the context. The word "office" comes to mind (a Microsoft Office ad on the computer). I can't think of others, but it happens fairly frequently.
Of course, he continues to love books. He'll happily sit and listen to someone read for as long as they're willing to read to him. He's also quite content to sit and browse through books on his own. Journey and Quest have are wordless picture books that have become fast favourites. He also loves the eeBoo storytelling cards that we picked up for him and Sprout. Jen is really good at "playing" these with him.
He is very social. He will strike up a conversation with just about anyone. He always has something he wants to share or discuss. He can be a little shy around people he doesn't know, but it doesn't usually take him long to warm up. He's started to take a real interest in his friends and often asks about them and wants us to make plans to get together, whereas before we initiated most of the meet-ups. He seems to gravitate towards older children and girls. It's particularly infatuated with a former student of mine who we've become family friends with. If you ask him who he loves, he always names her first. I should mention that she's nearly three times his age, lives in Chicago and he last saw her in April. *Sigh* I have a feeling this will be the first in a long line of crushes.
In addition to liking girls, he has been saying fairly consistently for the past six months or so that he wants to be a girl. We're not really sure what to make of it. When we ask him why, he says that "girls are cool" and that he doesn't like being the only one who is different in our family. We assure him that plenty of boys are cool too, and that we are all different from each other and what makes him different makes him special to us, but that we love him no matter what. He's worn "girl clothes" out a few times and has been pretty instant about growing his hair long like Rapunzel's. (He wants to be able to stand on the balcony and let it down so our guests can climb up it.) We're trying to be respectful of his wishes and provide guidance.
He loves pretend play and dressing up. His knight costume is a favourite, especially the sword. Captain America also gets a lot of wear. The biggest pretend play games are "babies" and "school" ...and sometimes "babies go to school." This type of imaginative play definitely wins out over any toys. There really aren't many toys he's very interested in. Magnatiles got a good bit of attention for a while, but he even seems to be taking a break from those recently. If couch cushions count as toys, those might be his favourite.
He's incredibly active. His climbing is just crazy. The way he manipulates his body is amazing to watch and he really seems fearless with regards to heights. He also loves to spin, jump, slide, run, splash and ride his bike and scooter. He's becoming much more confident in the water and will submerge his head (briefly) again. He can handle his two-wheeler (with training wheels) quite well. We've been spending lots of time at parks, splash pads and pools. He's been asking to go back to gymnastics, so I'm hoping to get him into a program again this fall.
He loves music. Recently I've been blown away by his ability to remember both tunes and lyrics to new songs. He's been singing a lot and requests particular CDs to sing along and dance to. His current favourite is his "Welcome to Kindergarten" CD.
He is SO pumped to be going to school in the fall. I think he's going to love it. He's completely ready socially and I think the academics will be great for him too. He's very curious about a number of things -language and geography standing out among them. His fine motor skills are low, pencil grip and penmanship in particular. He can write his name and draw stick people and other basic things, but doesn't seem to have much of an interest in art (though we've noticed he likes to paint objects rather than paper) and has to be encouraged to do any type of writing. He does enjoy mazes and some kindergarten activity books.
We're going to have to work on establishing a morning routine. While he loves being out, getting him out the door can be a challenge. He doesn't like having to get dressed or brush his teeth. He also just likes to lounge around and play. He'll get ready quickly when motivated by a fun activity or people he wants to see, but I imagine once the novelty of going to school wears off that we're going to have a bit of a challenge.
I also anticipate that he's going to miss Sprout. They've become quite close. They get along well about 90% of the time. The other 10% Sprout doesn't do what The Bean is telling her to and he gets upset. It is the sweetest thing to watch him "look out" for her, though we've noticed that he seems to feel responsible for her and seems to have some anxiety about that in certain situations, so we've been trying to reassure him that Mama and Mommy (or another adult we trust when we're not around) will take care of Sprout and that he doesn't have to worry.
We've been trying to work on difficult behaviour. Being bossy. Getting upset when things don't go his way. Being defiant. Blaming others. He's halfway to giving up naps, and he's definitely more difficult the afternoons when he hasn't slept. We also notice a difference when his stomach is bothering him. Difficult behaviours are best managed with lots of one-on-one attention and very calm and patient responses. It's hard sometimes though. Except for the rare occasion we've cut out all TV, movies, tablet and phone. It was becoming a battle every time it was time to turn the device off and just not worthwhile.
He's still having tummy troubles. Going completely off dairy has certainly helped and he is doing much better when we're giving him his daily fibre supplement (which we've been bad about since summer began) I still feel like there's something more going on. I think we may have him go through full allergy testing. At this point I just want to know what's going on and solve the problems once and for all.
Despite the digestive issues, he has been growing. That said, he is still a peanut. He's about 40.5in and 33 or 34lbs. He's moving into some 4T clothes, but mostly for length. He can still wear 18m shorts! Made-to-fit pants are a lifesaver. If given a choice, he would wear PJs all day, everyday. "Zips" (fleece one piece jammies) are his favourite. Even in the 100 degree humidity we've been having. Aside from PJs he goes for cozy sweat pants and superhero t-shirts.
He's picky about food but will try new things. He eats a lot of cereal and bread. Nuts are also a favourite. He's so-so with fruits and veggies, meaning that he sticks to the ones he likes. We always swore we wouldn't make a separate meal for the kids, but: Famous Last Words. Otherwise we'd be eating a lot of chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese.
The past (four years and) six months have definitely been busy. There's been a lot of change in our lives and a lot to navigate with those changes. The Bean is a more sensitive kid than I sometimes realize and he definitely wears his heart on his sleeve. As always he's teaching me how to be a better Mama. How to listen and watch and have patience and be gentle but also how to live in the moment and not take things too seriously and smile more and love openly. This kid. My heart.