Being Four

Wesley, we’ve been teaching you a lot, and you’re a great learner. But I’m not sure you don’t have something to teach us as well. Your Mommy and I took you to Baltimore last weekend. We rode on a subway and you didn’t want to get off. You could be happy riding the subway all day. Or an escalator. You could ride up and down escalators all day and be ecstatic. Anyone who came near those escalators would be infected with happiness. We went to a children’s museum and a science museum. You could have stayed all day in any room of either of them and never grown the least bit bored. At the hotel you said you wanted to live there forever. But when we’re at home you want to live here forever too. It’s just that you’re so thrilled with whatever fun thing you’re doing, you don’t much want it to end. The rest of us are usually planning ways to change where we are or what we’re doing, rather than laughing with delight at our current activities. We should work on that.

You’re four years and a few months old now, and you’ve grown up dramatically in the past few months this summer. You now go to swimming lessons by yourself, with a teacher but no mommy or daddy. And you really know how to swim. You’re learning math, and the other day you counted from 1 to 1,200 before finding something more thrilling to do than counting. You’ve long had a little bicycle with training wheels, but we just got you a balance bike with no training wheels and no pedals — you put your feet down and push with them, or you pick them up and balance. Pretty quickly you’ve learned to ride a bicycle. Recently your mommy took you to the park to play with your friends from school, whom you don’t see much during the summer, and you went off and played with them, without your mommy. That was new and a big step for you. You’ve been reluctant to play with friends, or even to play by yourself very much, but now you do both — although your mommy and I love playing with you too!

You’re even starting to read and spell. Talking, at least to people you know and feel comfortable with, has been developing for years now. We’ve moved beyond being surprised that you know a word or a phrase, and reached the point of assuming you know everything until we learn otherwise. You like to tell stories and sing, and to pretend. Sometimes you’re a dog or a train. Always you’re pretending something, and usually it involves animals. Your favorite thing in Baltimore was riding on a speed boat, and we didn’t do that — you just pretended it. Winnie the Pooh comes into your conversation a lot. He is apparently a friend of yours and has been everywhere, done everything, and owns a wonderful device for any occasion. Talking to strangers and saying hello, and thank you, are things we’re still working on but making progress. This morning, you and I got our haircut at the same time in separate chairs a ways apart. I used to have to stand right by you and entertain you and encourage you to sit still. Now you get your hair cut all by yourself.

On top of being super happy, except when you’re sick, Wesley, you’re also almost never sad. You’re hardly ever scared or crying, even when you get hurt. At the children’s museum, there was a strange house in which you could crawl down the sink drain and come out in the bathtub. You thought this was hilarious, but it was also a little scary, because the tunnel was pitch black dark and made a lot of turns. During one crawl from the sink to the bathtub you became upset. But you immediately wanted to do it again; you just wanted me to go through it with you. Nothing scares you very much — certainly not speed or heights, both of which you like a lot.

We went to the Florida Keys in January, and you loved that. Then we went to Arizona in March with your Gum and Gup, Aunt Kelly, Uncle Mark, and your cousins Hallie and Travis. You climbed a huge mountain all the way to the top, first holding Gup’s hand and then the next day holding mine. When you decide on a goal you want to reach — like the top of a mountain — there’s no stopping you. You saw Hallie and Travis again more recently at Gum and Gup’s house. You learned to go off and play with them before your friends from school. It’s been wonderful for you to have big cousins. You also like to visit Gram and Gramps and Uncle Matt’s house, and we’ll be going to Rehoboth Beach with them. Last year you loved Rehoboth Beach and especially Fun Land, which is your top measure of how fun something is: as fun as Fun Land (your arms outstretched all the way to illustrate the degree of funness). You thought the waves were too big sometimes last year, but the waves will probably be about the same while you keep growing.

There was a lot of snow here when we were in Florida, and our basement was flooded following heavy rain on top of piles of snow. Now the basement is a construction site, and by the end of the summer we’ll be able to play down there again, after 8 months of not having it. You’ve been doing a lot of playing in your room, and building train tracks out of your room, into the hallway, around the living room. You’re good at building with blocks too, and sometimes you like to leave your creations standing for a long time. It’s hard to imagine our house without toys and impossible to imagine it without you. Your mommy and I love you more than anything.