going on four

On Sunday the girls built with blocks for the first time.  Is that shocking?  I suppose I should clarify... because they've "played" with blocks since they were less than 1.  And by playing I mean that they gnawed on, dumped, crashed, stacked, and occasionally sorted.  But they never deliberately built with blocks until this past Sunday.  It was so cool to see them work together to develop a plan.  "We're being architects, mommy!"  This structure features a small forrest that leads to a road.  The road moves into steps that take you through an archway into a "patio".  The patio was surrounded by a small wall, decorated with "pretty plant towers" and enclosed with a small gate.  There was a plan from start to end and they worked together to realize their vision.  They had the patience to see it through and the dexterity to make their vision a reality.  This - to me - is all part of the pre-four package.

When I taught art in elementary schools I taught K-6th grade.  Each grade had their own unique personality, developmental awesomeness, and challenges... I loved them all for what they were, who they were, but year after year I adored my third graders as they prepared to move into fourth grade.  They were still innocent, excited about each and every learning opportunity, but they now possessed the dexterity, cognitive ability and basic awareness of school policy to really make cool things happen in the art room.  I could do things with third grade that I couldn't do with 6th grade because they believed in themselves, believed in me, and they cared a whole lot.  They were often the highlight of my day, they were a gem of an age group...  I find it funny that I feel the same way about the girls right now as they move from three into four.

Don't get me wrong - this age/grade is far from perfect... we still have mini tantrums, we have more awareness of the world around us which leads to more fears to be overcome (the dark, swimming {Emma}, unfamiliar situations, pickier eating habits {Bella}) but in general it is just so amazing to witness this age.  In the classrooms I felt that 3rd grade was when you really saw the fruits of the K, 1, and 2 teachers resonating and taking hold in the children - so it is with the girls right now - I see their knowledge and understanding of all of the things we've been saying over and over and over and over for the last 3 years... 

Some of the messages are simple:  Stoves are hot, hold hands when crossing the street, brush your teeth each night, go to the bathroom before a meal, clean up your messes, and if you have time pitch in and clean up someone else's mess too.  Close the gate, shut the door, hang up your coat, put your shoes in the shoe bin, make your bed.  

Some of the messages are more complex:  Waiting your turn, try not to interrupt, work comes before play.  Mommy and daddy love you even if you're naughty, mommy and daddy love you even if we're not right there, mommy and daddy love all of their kids, always - not one at a time.  Be kind, share (still difficult), take turns, and a big hug can stop your brothers form taking your things - they just want your attention.  Say please and thank you.  Think before you speak.  Sometimes we have to do what's best for the family, it's not just about you.  Someone else doing something  right doesn't mean you did something wrong.  There are consequences to our actions,  but we are always forgiven.   Naps make us feel better.

Please don't misunderstand - we haven't mastered any of these things - far from it... but the seeds are there... they KNOW these things and though small reminders are needed I don't get the feeling like they're hearing it for the first time when in fact it was more like the millionth time. I used to feel like we were dragging the girls behind us on the road of parenting - we just kept tossing things back at them, but each bump in the road emptied their bags of knowledge.  Now they're holding their own pink and purple sequined bags and walking along side us even if they still drag their feet sometimes.  

While the girls are becoming more aware, what I adore about them now is that the magic still remains and their imaginations are thriving.  Mimi's house is magic because of the rainbows on the floor, and the angel mail.  They held a birthday party for a lightning bug last night because he kept coming back to the deck and that must mean that he's their friend and if he's their friend then he needed a party!   Emma and I walked through each room in the house over the weekend giving hugs and blowing kisses, because if there's enough love in a house no bad things can come in there.  Getting their nails painted or helping make dinner is still one of the coolest things they can imagine.  They see no difference between the Oley Turnpike Dairy and the Philadelphia Zoo - all they see are animals to be named and stories to create about them.  They make up dance routines.  They play dress ups with a plot.  Their paintings have stories.  Their minds are in constant motion, everything is an adventure, the world is full of possibilities.

There are more lightning bugs that need cakes.
There are more angel statues to meet.
There are more animals to imagine.
There are more stories to tell.
There are more cities to build...

The world of a pre four is stretched before them, and for the first time their vision is becoming clear enough to see it.


  1. it does sound like an incredibly fun age. its so nice to be able to see your kids grow and change and take in more and more of the world.

  2. I totally agree - about four year olds and third graders!