Thumper will very soon become a four-year-old, a landmark that has me thinking again about all the time we've spent getting here, how fast it's gone, and what's changed since all those trips to the obstetrician, mostly, I guess, because we're just about one year away from kindergarten.
Since the early days, and the days in between, much has changed, and much has stayed the same. I think I was better suited to the first couple of years. Three has been tough, with attitude, attitude, and more attitude (from both of us), as his will has developed into something, surprisingly, independent of my own. Many of our days this year have been filled with moments when he expresses an idea ("I want candy!") that I shut down ("You've already had 2 Tootsie Rolls, a piece of taffy, and a cookie; no more sugar.") causing an angry reaction ("I NEVER get candy! I guess you want me to be mad!") to which I react angrily in turn ("Never? Don't even start with that! You've already had 3 pieces of candy and a cookie just this morning! Seriously? Do we have to do this every time?") Things generally go downhill from there.
As we approach four, though, he seems to be softening, sweetening, changing his attitude, which of course is causing me to change mine. He's running and kicking and trying at soccer instead of throwing himself on the ground and making an unending series of angry faces. I've heard that four is pretty sweet. I'm desperately hoping that it's true. I've waffled back and forth since Thumper was around 1 1/2 years old, thinking I want another child and thinking maybe I just couldn't possibly handle another one. If I'd had another one to deal with while working our way through three, I think someone would've suffered, possibly permanent damage.
Now, as he moves out of three and I move closer to forty, I've been thinking more about taking drastic, mostly permanent measures. I think our family is complete now. I have a stay-at-home dad friend who tells me pretty regularly about his adventures with a 6- and 3-year-old, and man, I am not ready for those kind of adventures. His elder child has reached the landmark that I fear most of all: she has figured out that mom and dad will not kill her or seriously hurt her, and she has decided that everything else is a battle that she can win. Where do you go when you say, "I will take this away from you," and the child responds, "I don't want that anyway?" When you say, "I can outlast you," and she says, "No you can't." I am shuddering at the thought.
Anyway, I hope Thumper actually is moving towards helping me be a better dad, because it's been a long time feeling like I'm really pretty terrible at this.
And things haven't changed that much. He's still pretty danged adorable, even though he's almost four now and not almost two, like he was the last time we went to see the Biscuit Brothers at Symphony Square in June of 2009, which we did again a couple of days ago. The Biscuit Brothers haven't entirely lost their charm, and neither has this job that I mostly love, though maybe not as much as I did when he would stay where I put him and never talk back.