I've never been one to complain about my children getting older. Even though I've enjoyed every "stage" of my kids' development, the baby stage was one of my least favorites. The snuggles were great and all, but the rest? Meh. In my opinion, those snuggled had nothing on watching my kids play or learn. And while I've always loved them, 4 was a turning point age. It's so great. They're straight-up little people! But, as great as it can be, your 4 year old will challenge you. A lot.
Some of these challenges will be a result of their development. Other challenges will be, like, them challenging you because now they know they can — you'll still love them, and to push the people you love the most is to be human. The challenges are worth the joy, to be sure, but you might have to consistently remind yourself of just how "worth it" it all is over, and over, and over again as you, for example, drag your child from the Lego store because she has decided to throw a tantrum from hell and OMG when did she get so freakishly strong?
Not, of course, that I'm drawing from personal experience or anything. I'm most certainly not waiting to go viral for that because some amused bystander filmed it and put it on YouTube. Nope. That's not me.
Anyway, believe me when I say your sweet, learning-at-a-rapid-pace, intuitive 4 year old is going to put you through it, probably in the following ways:
When The Temper Tantrums Haven't Stopped
While they're probably less frequent than they were a couple years ago (hopefully), temper tantrums are still developmentally appropriate for 4 year olds. But that doesn't mean they're easy to deal with. And you've been dealing with them for a bare minimum of four years (more if you have older children) and you're just done.
I mean, what are you even throwing a tantrum about, kid? As an adult, I am so much more entitled to a tantrum. My mortgage payments alone should qualify me for at least one public meltdowns a month.
When Their Arguing Has Improved
The fact that they don't have a great grasp on logic and rhetoric does not stop them from having an argument with you about something. And, as with adults whose grasp of reason is tenuous, they get super self-righteous about their point of view.
When They Whine
I guess they're on the cusp of crying to convey their needs and emotions and talking through them, and the result is whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiining about eeeeeeeeeeeeverythiiiiiiiiiing. It's powerful and constant. Like, if you could convert it into energy somehow (like you could do with laughs and screams in Monster's Inc) you could power a mid-sized American city.
When They're Defiant
Couple that aforementioned self-righteousness with anger and you get... well, you get my daughter for the past couple weeks any time I say, "OK, sweetheart, say goodbye to your friends. It's time to go."
Oh. Oh she does not care for that.
When They Ask Those Mile-A-Minute Questions
So very many questions, and I appreciate and encourage them because questions are how you learn things. But it's challenging for several reasons. Like, for one thing, my kid will ask questions to which there are no real answers, or at least no answers that will satisfy her. Like, the other day she asked me, "Why is Earth?" and I mean, for starters, that's a sentence fragment so I can't answer you on grammatical grounds alone. Second, if I were to take your question to mean, "Why does Earth exist?", which is what I think you meant, then I have absolutely no idea how to answer you. I mean, I dunno.
And 4 is when you start to get some of the more complicated or depressing questions about things they're picking up on out in the world, too. For example, "What's a mass shooting?" or, "What's sex?" And, again, they're all fine questions, but they can be difficult to navigate sometimes, if only for the fact that you don't even know where to begin.
When They Won't Stop Talking
Oh boy, what you wouldn't give for a few minutes of silence every now and then, right?
On the plus side, you will become a damn expert on Pokémon, because they're going to tell you all about it.
When They Go To School
Whether you're beginning the kindergarten registration process or you're still figuring out how preschool works, this is a new one! School can be a challenge for small children, and if it's a challenge for them then it's going to be a challenge for you, too. That's just how parenting works.
When You're Shopping For Clothes
At 4, there's a pretty good chance they're weirdly between the baby section and the "big kids" section and you'll have to maneuver between the two, depending on the garment. (At least, that's been my experience with my two kids.) It's not the biggest challenge known to mankind, but it was all much, much easier when you could stick them in a bunch of onesies from the infant section and be done with it, ya know?
When They're Harder To Trick
You don't realize how much you rely on trickery to get through day to day life with your children until they start to figure sh*t out.
When You're Less Tolerant
Remember, you've been dealing with this child's nonsense for years now. High school is generally four years long: how ready were you to move on to the next thing by your senior year? It's kind of like that.
And from my anecdotal experience, the older a kid appears, the less likely we are to tolerate behavior you think they should have grown out of. So if a 2 year old looks 3, you're more likely to be annoyed when they act their age, because they should know better, right? But it's worth remembering that all of the annoying stuff I listed that they do is still age-appropriate for them. Even if it seems like they should be more reasonable by now, they're still little, and they're still learning. Try to be patient.
When You Realize Your Baby Is A Grown-Up!
HOW ARE YOU SO BIG AND GROWN UP BECAUSE I JUST GAVE BIRTH TO YOU AND HOW ARE YOU WEARING BIG KID CLOTHES AND PLAYING BIG KID GAMES AND OMG KINDERGARTEN IS COMING UP ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!