Sprout is Four Years Old!
The longer I've been a parent the more I realize that despite all the little changes, that these kids don't really change that much. Sprout at four is the same funny, affectionate, stubborn, sweet kid she's always been.
I think the biggest change has been her growing independence. The transition to school has been a fairly easy one. There were a few days of tears at the beginning, some clinginess here and there, but overall she seems quite happy. Having her big brother there surely helps. All our pick up and drop offs last year, as well as visits to the classroom and tagging along on field trips probably also made a significant difference. She was quick to make a few close friends and seems to be able to follow the routines and rules. She's the youngest in the class, but her teachers have often commented on how mature she is. I don't think she hesitates to participate and though whining or crying at home isn't uncommon, she seems to do a better job of "using her words" to express herself when there's a problem at school. Her academic skills are where I'd expect them to be. She recognizes letter and knows their sounds, but is only just starting to grasp how they come together to form words. She can count quite high with help on transitional numbers, but usually misses out on fourteen. One on one counting is good into the teens. She asks pretty fantastic questions and every once in a while they give insight on how she's trying to piece together things in her mind and build her understanding. I love witnessing that. Her fine motor is weak (she'll often use a palmar grasp if not reminded), but coming along. She still draws people as a head with legs, but has started adding more detail to her artwork and uses lots of colour.
Her gross motor skills are improving. She became quite a little fish while we were at the beach this summer and moved up a level in swimming this fall. Her control on the scooter is good enough that she can ride the six blocks or so to school. She also started riding a bike with training wheels this summer. She took gymnastic through the fall and the changes from this time last year are shocking; Not only is she much more focused, she has much better body awareness and control. It's also evident on the playground where she confidently runs, climbs and jumps and swings.
She wakes up grumpy most mornings and needs a good few minutes to adjust. She often wants a morning snuggle from Mama, but prefers everyone else leave her alone unless they're taking of her pull-up or making her something to eat. Once she's awake she's a little chatterbox with lots of ideas about what she and everyone else should be doing. She mostly dresses herself and has become quite opinionated about what she wears. Though there's no real rhyme or reason to it though layers, purple, sparkles and animals all seem to be popular themes. We call it "Sprout Styles." Her hair is usually half brushed and covering half her face. It's starting to get longer again and is still that same gorgeous auburn colour. She's a bit of a ragamuffin.
She's really stretched out and is mostly in size four clothing now. Shoe size seems to be about an 11. She's still got round rosy cheeks and a little belly.
She is a good (not great) eater. Breakfast is heavy on the carbs. school lunch is usually just a sandwich, fruit and vegetables. I've learned not to over pack snacks for her school lunch because she will eat them first and skip the healthier stuff. Dinner we pretty much insist that the kids eat what we've made. She is a painfully s-l-o-w eater. Even the lunch supervisors at school comment on it, but if given the time she does eat. Her favourite dinner is probably soft-shelled tacos. She's a little cheese monster.
Her speech is getting clearer. I am still going to request a referral to a speech pathologist when we go in for her well-check next week. Her Ls and Rs aren't clear and though most people seem to understand her when they're listening carefully, there's definitely room for improvement. Her vocabulary is excellent and I hesitate to correct the misspoken words (e.g. "I was borned on Christmas Eve") because I know they won't be around too much longer.
Though she doesn't read independently, she is a little bookworm. She loves being read to, though we don't do it nearly as much as I did before she started school. She's really into Dora books and princess stories. It's interesting how much she gravitates towards "girly" things, especially as I don't feel like Jen or I don't really strongly encourage it.
Aside from books, she loves dolls and pretend play in general. She and The Bean still love to play together --orphans, babies, doctor/vet, school, dogs... you name it. Most of their play falls into the make-believe category rather than the playing-with-toys category. Maganatiles being the biggest exception.
She adores animals and Jen and I will call her Snow White because of the way she refers to birds as her friends and insists on making eye contact with dogs and talking to them while she scratches behind their ears.
She stopped nursing mid-August. It was not by her choice, but I was ready for her to be done. She actually did really well initially because we timed it with our trip to the beach and did a lot of talking beforehand about how when we went to the beach there would be no more nursing. We should have thought it out a bit better, because she was pretty sorely disappointed when we got back home and I had to explain that there was no nursing at home anymore either. Still, she adjusted. It seems to be a pretty distant memory now, though if asked she will say that she misses it.
She's still pretty attached to me, but it feels like that's evening out a bit and she's starting to go to Jen for comforting and general interaction more than she has in the past. Grandma and Paul are still her "best friends", though I'd say her true best friends are probably The Bean and my cousin's son who she spent so much time with last year. She has a lot of very sweet friends and her social circle has definitely grown since starting school.
Sleep is maybe, slightly better. She has her ups and downs, I guess. She goes to sleep in the bottom bunk of the kids' bunk beds, but sometimes calls out or comes into our room partway through the night. I find it easier to sleep in her bed than to fit Jen, myself and her into our bed. I'm sure one day I'll miss the night-long cuddles, but right now a night where she stays in her own bed without waking up all the way until the morning (6am) feels like a blessing.
She's a bit of a goofball. She is bossy. She gets shy in new social situations. She's snuggly and can be just as sweet as can be. I love this little four year young creature will all of my heart.