Nearly ever one I know has told me four years-old is easier than three. I’d like to hope they’re right since three was a downright challenging year. However, Isabelle’s been four for a little over a week and, so far, she still seems like my feisty three year-old.
Case in Point: Preschool Pickup. Unless I’m working in a school, I pick Isabelle up from preschool a little earlier than her peers since she still naps. Today was one of those days where I arrived before the class’s rest time. As soon as her teacher saw me, she began recounting a story about Isabelle finding the courage to speak in front of her peers (to tell the story of why she’s nicknamed herself the “Cheese Machine”). It was a delightful tale that made my heart happy since she was able to hold her friends’ attention and was able to be understood by her teacher.
As her teacher and I chatted, I noticed a curly-haired girl run out of the room. Yep, you know who it was: my child! She likes to do this to me (i.e., run out of the room for my benefit since she knows it agitates me). I didn’t give chase. But after a minute, she didn’t come back, so I went in search of her. I found her driving towards me in a Little Tykes Cozy Coupes, which operates like the cars on “The Flintstones.” Apparently she decided it would not only be okay to leave her classroom, but she’d join another class who were using indoor bikes and cars in the preschool hallway. Um, no, that was NOT okay.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Driving!” she grinned.
“You’re not supposed to leave the classroom. You don’t run out of the classroom. You didn’t ask your teacher permission.”
“Get up,” I commanded.
“No, I’m driving,” she replied.
I didn’t mince words. “I need you to get up and get out of the car.”
She started to whine. And cry. And yell.
I swiveled the car around and pointed it in the direction where the cars and bikes are stored.
“Go and park your car now.”
“Yes. Drive back, park your car, and come back to your classroom or I will have to pick you up out of your car and carry you out of school.”
“Fine Mommy!” she said with disdain in her voice.
I turned on my heel and walked back to her classroom. 30 seconds later she returned. Good, I thought.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!
You’d think it’d end there. You’d think she’d be compliant and stay by my side. You’d think these things if you were raising one of those compliant four year-olds my friends talk about all of the time. But, no, right after she put on her coat and hugged her friends good-bye she bolted from the room again. But before I could exit the room, one of her little friends took off after her. “Isabelle! You can’t leave the room!”
But then he left the room. Ugh!
And then, to make matters worse, one of other little girls follows both of them out of the room in an effort to lay down the law. At this point, her teacher and I are out the classroom door, ready to collect all three of them. When we arrive in the hallway, the boy who ran after her says, “Isabelle took my truck.”
“Give it back to him,” I said. And she did.
Her teacher retrieved Isabelle’s friends and brought them back to the classroom. I admonished Isabelle for leaving the classroom and told her that she could get her friends into trouble by leaving since they followed her. I told her she had to ask permission before departing the classroom. While she nodded, I knew, in my heart of hearts, that she’d be doing this to me again sometime soon since she knew it didn’t bother me. I sighed. Enough. Let it be for today, I told myself.
Just as I was about to take her hand to lead her out of school, a girl from one of the other classes pedaled by on a tricycle with a passenger seat (or what reminds me of a preschool rickshaw). Isabelle attempted to jump into the passenger seat.
“Oh no!” I cried. “You are not going for a bike ride! We’re going home.”
“But I want to!” she whined.
“It’s not happening. Not now. Put on your mittens. We’re going home.”
* * * * *
I recently polled my Facebook friends asking:
I have a question for anyone who’s ever told me parenting a four year-old is much easier than a three year-old. (And there are quite a few of you out there!) We’re a week and a half into age four and no one has flipped the proverbial switch. I’m wondering… when did your three year-old morph into a more compliant, more mellow person?
NOTE: If you don’t have a happy tale to tell (i.e., four was just as hard, if not harder than three), then please don’t tell me that today. I need some uplifting four year-old stories… please!
I got a variety of answers, links to articles, and promises of hope. Most people reassured me that the change came later-on in the fours. So for now, I’m going to try to stay calm and firm like I did today. And when something ridiculous happens, I will write the stories down so my daughter will know exactly what she was like at this point in her life as she grows up into the amazing, strong-willed adult I know she will be.