I try to look at life in this moment through the eyes of my more knowing self a few years from now, and I can see that this will stand out clearly as a big time of change. Having just turned four, the girls are in the mother of all developmental shifts. Being separated from one another at school, they’ve hit their stride in maturity and confidence, triggering such a shift in their minds and behavior it’s like I’m meeting two new little girls every morning they come downstairs to the breakfast table.
Sure, we still battle with their impatience over toast, their indecision when it comes to wardrobe, and their constant whining and fighting with one another. But they’ve GROWN so much over the past weeks. I haven’t spoken much about this next topic because it was so frustrating for me, I just couldn’t post about it: but only within the past two months did we finally reach potty training success. After our initial attempt at 2-1/4 years old, they staunchly refused to get anywhere near a potty. Just 1000% refused to sit on a potty of any size, shape or color regardless of the routines, rewards, or sticker charts we used to entice them. Until one day, they asked me to paint their fingernails. And I said I would if they peed on the potty. So they marched into the bathroom, peed on the potty, wiped, flushed, washed hands, and demanded blue polish for their hands AND toes, thank you very much mommy, ain’t no thang. And have been peeing on the potty without a single accident ever since. Thankfully for my own sanity, this happened before their fourth birthday. But barely.
I put this out there because I don’t think we’re the only family who has faced late potty training woes and now that it’s behind us, I gotta say I wish I had seen more people stand up and say, hey, it’s really okay if your kid isn’t potty trained at two. Or three. It doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong or that anything is wrong with your child. It’s just one of those things that can’t be forced. And if you have a kid who, like ours, just will not do something until they know they’ll be pretty adept at it, or if you have a kid who just isn’t interested or ready for some other reason, SO WHAT. People don’t bring it up if that was their experience because it’s frustrating and embarrassing. But I wish they would so that others facing the same thing wouldn’t feel so alone.
So yah. I’m bringing it up.
Aside from potty training finally not being the bane of my existence, the girls are also just in a really awesome stage of communication. The other day we stopped at a red light beside a homeless man sitting on an overturned bucket in the median. Juju asked “What happened to the man, mommy?” When I said he had no home, no bed, no food, it unleashed a flood of questions and concerns and opened the gateway for communication about gratitude and how we should help others.
Yah, these kids can’t go six minutes without fighting one another over a plastic toy, but life lessons about human kindness and gratitude can sink in there somewhere… right?
Speaking of gratitude, two nights ago we helped them to say their first prayers before bed. Essentially a conversation with God to give thanks. It was a sweet moment, listening in as they spoke aloud, despite the fact that we learned that they are way more thankful for pancakes than for mommy and daddy, but hey. They are four after all.
In so many ways they make me laugh right now. Beefy walked up to me the other day holding out a picture and told me she drew Malichigan (evil queen Maleficent and the state of Michigan rolled into one?) Juju proudly declared her precious county fair-acquired unicorn to be named Chuck E. Cheese. Both spend endless amounts of time riding their (Amazon box) rocket to the moon (“Not the earth, mommy, the earth is the blue and green circle.”) When I think of them, I think of dollhouse play and princesses, bus races across the kitchen floor under leg tunnels, dinosaurs, bear rides on “daddy bear,” and building lego towers as tall as themselves. I see the elaborate scenes they create using every toy they own and then the sound of them screaming bloody murder when sister attempts to destroy it all. Sounding out their letters, counting their blueberries. Making up song lyrics and tunes, and choreographing dance moves to go along with them. Waking up at the crack of dawn on the fourth of July to run up and down the hallway yelling “Happy Birthday ‘Merica!” Shouting with glee, “I did it!” as they jump off the curb with two feet, or climb into the carseat themselves, or do any number of other tasks that PT and OT have helped them master, albeit somewhat later than most of their peers. All they know and care about is that they did it. They can do it. They ARE doing it. This is four so far.
And four, so far? It’s pretty good stuff.