Friday, February 15, 2008

Hayden- Nearly 4 Years Old

It's been awhile since I gave actual updates with the kids. The thought occurs to me fairly frequently, but these personalities are so big, it's hard to fathom capturing that in just a few paragraphs. Let's see how this goes.

At nearly 4 years old, Hayden is such a fun boy. He loves to play and joke, giving us a goofy grin, or just plain cracking himself up. He is thriving at school, bringing home wonderful worksheets every day. Being unfamiliar with preschool education, I am beyond impressed with every one of these. Sometimes he is asked to count the objects, then circle the corresponding printed number. Other assignments involve discriminating between numbers and letters or many other academic ideas. He can count to 100 and has an uncanny understanding of numbers in general. We give him simple arithmetic problems of addition and subtraction and he just gets it. He knows what sound each letter makes, can write each letter, and can spell his and Logan's name. He doesn't yet grasp that words flow from left to right, and without coaching will write his letters one on top of the other. More like a logo than a name, really. He really enjoys his friends and playtime at school, but it is very difficult to get him to share what he did all day. We are actually quite impressed with his ability to evade direct questions, no matter how cleverly we ask.Maybe he should be an international spy when he grows up. His teachers give good reports of his class participation, and we are told that his temper is very typical for a four year old, and not nearly as bad as some of his classmates. The only thing the teachers would really like to see change is naptime. Hayden will not sleep during the day. He will lay down to "take a rest" but will not get that much needed sleep to get him through the evening. We really believe this has a lot to do with evening meltdowns, but haven't found a solution.

Speaking of that temper- He is becoming the King of Drama. If he isn't happy with something he loudly turns on the waterworks or defiantly yells at us, or both. We find that we need to be super consistent and immediate with discipline to quell the pending rebellion. Once he ramps up, it is very difficult to calm himself down, and the best approach is to let him blow off steam alone until he can pull himself together. He hates when we tell him to sit in his room by himself until he is done crying, but it is often the only way he will take the time to compose himself. We can often avoid these tantrums by warning of any change in activity and letting him know what the plan for the day is. He doesn't always do well with surprises, depending on what they are. If we are on vacation and there is no routine, he goes with the flow very easily. However, if I pick him up from daycare before he has played in the nap room as long as he wanted, I am greeted by angry tears for interrupting his playtime. Wednesday I told him he needed to get it together to go out to dinner and at least pretend to be happy to see me. He gave me the cheesiest fake grin that totally cracked me up. Fortunately, that also broke his tension and he was in a very good mood after that. Hayden does have a desire to be first for everything and win at whatever he is doing. We are trying to convey that you don't win at the dinner table, and getting to the sink first by pushing your little brother down is not the way to go. One of his new complaints is that everything takes "forever" and he "never" gets whatever was just denied. Insert whiny voice here upon being sent to his room for flinging oatmeal: "I never get to finish breakfast! I'm going to be soooo hungry. Lunchtime is taking forever to get here!" We often take forever to get out of the car, despite repeatedly telling him to get a move on. Logan takes forever to wash his hands when Hayden is waiting. Chocolate milk takes forever to get to the table when we are stirring the pasta before hopping to it for him. And, he never gets treats. Ever. Or so he'll have you believe. Last night we really rocked his world by serving the kids dinner first so we could have a romantic Valentine's dinner alone after they went to bed. When I went to check his progress on getting into jammies I was greeted with "I never want to have dinner like this again!" Well, although I feel for him being upset at the change in routine, it will happen again. Not often, but it will. Dinnertime is always a family event, so he doesn't have much concept of Mommy and Daddy time.

The flip side is what I like to consider his true nature. He is a very sweet kid, and often exuberantly appreciative of the little things we do for him. This morning he accepted his oatmeal saying "Oh thank you! Apple cinnamon! I love this kind. Thank you for making it for me, Mommy!" Of course, this had followed a very rough morning of lots of unacceptable behavior and lecturing by me, so I thought it rather funny when he ended this gushing with "See how I changed my attitude?" Yes, thank you. He will often tell us he loves us at random times, and is getting to be very sweet and caring with Logan, especially if Logan has hurt himself. Hayden will go over, put an arm around him and speak to him in a very high caring voice "Are you ok? Do you need me to kiss it better?" Logan always solemnly accepts the offer and all is well. Hayden is very good at sharing, although he also thinks sharing by other kids means handing something to him right away. He seems to play quite nicely with other kids, handing toys off if nicely requested, and holding hands or hugging the other kids. He is very independent, wanting to dress himself, cut his food himself, brush his teeth himself, etc... At this age, it's so great that he can actually do these things, with minimal assistance. Some days he wants to choose his own clothes, but doesn't seem to have too strong an opinion about what he wears. He rarely complains about me handing him clothes to put on, often giving lots of "Oh thank you's!"

Hayden is a very good helper around the house. He does an excellent job cleaning his room and making his bed, often without being asked to do so. He is starting to clear his things from the table, and yesterday folded and put away the empty grocery bags on his own. Cooking is tons of fun as he continues to understand the elements of the baking process and how to use the mixer. As we go through the grocery store, it's not uncommon for him to ask about items I put in the cart saying "Mommy, you bought oil. Are we baking a cake?" Baking remains one of my favorite activties to do with them. He of course loves to help Fillip build anything and help in the yard, and has a good grasp of what each tool is for. He is always active, running, jumping, climbing, or riding bikes. He loves to zoom around the block, and is good about waiting at the corner for us to catch up, keeping him in sight. The training wheels are a must, but I can see improvement in how he handles his bike, and need to start having him do circles in the street to master turning better.

We have a pretty established routine in the evening. Dinner is shortly after arriving home. Hayden is not a picky eater, and will eat most anything. However, he dawdles and plays until we are nearly done, then wants to sit even longer to finish his meal. This is a work in progress, but I think we might be seeing some improvement. Thankfully, we know he should be nutritionally sound as he loves veggies, meat, pasta, rice, and almost anything we put out. He will taste anything, even things he hasn't liked in the past. Mushrooms are one of the few things he doesn't like, yet last night enjoyed the stuffed mushrooms I made. Once the kids are jammied up we read a story before tucking in. This is my favorite time of the day, when we all cuddle up together for a few quiet minutes. Hayden really understands the stories we read, and asks good questions or can answer questions about what we read. His teachers report that he excels at this at school. Given my passion for books, this makes me so happy. With the recent addition of bunkbeds and room sharing, bedtime involves a fair amount of patience, but rarely because of Hayden. He is very good about lying down, getting a snuggle, and going to sleep. Once asleep, he is a rock and rarely wakes during the night. If he does wake up, usually something is wrong so we are very responsive. This happens maybe twice a year, maybe. He doesn't fight sleep at night, and will sleep until his brother wakes him around 6:30am. Last week he started telling me a story as if it had actually happened. It took a few minutes to realize that he was telling me about a dream.

Each day we are amazed at what a big kid he is. Not physically of course, he's a little peanut. In all other ways we see what we remember about childhood. He plays games we remember and uses expressions we used. He is recently aware of our music, and I just thought him so cool as I realized he was singing Stay Up Late by The Talking Heads. It's nice that the song requests aren't just Wheels on the Bus anymore. Hayden is so full of emotion and motion all the time, except for when he finally crashes at night. He is so fun to have around, and excellent company most anywhere. It's hard to believe that he was once this tiny baby, but I am enjoying getting to know this developing human being everyday. I love my Sweet Pea more than I could have ever imagined, and just hope that he is somehow absorbing that as he does so much other information.

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