I remember this time last year when we were saying we had 3 kids under 3, and how crazy it all felt. This time, with 4 under 4, everything just feels so much more doable. Part of it is that 3 year olds are way more reasonable than 2 year olds, and part of it is that after a certain point adding a kid isn’t such a shock to the family, and part of it is that I’m a different mom than I was a few years ago. With Ali I completely pushed my needs aside to tend to her, now I’m more likely to look for a balance. Like, if I’m in the middle of dinner and the baby starts crying, I don’t pick her up and walk around bouncing and shushing like I used to do. I pat her, tell her she’s ok, and pick her up when I’m done eating. Little things like that help keep me a much more pleasant mom.
I think we are paying for getting cocky about how good Ali has been doing. She’s currently sliding into this alarmingly sassy, super emotional phase. For the first time ever, she’s saying no to us! She’s stomping her foot and crying real tears over weird things! Somehow she’s surviving on a diet consisting entirely of lucky charms, fruit snacks, and fig bars! Keeping her busy and making sure to put aside some special Ali/mommy time is helping ease it, and hopefully her moodiness won’t last long. She’s not all bad though, there’s a lot of good stuff too. She’s still really affectionate, she’s finally interested in books (and learning to read!) and can follow pretty long stories. Her attention span is awesome, she will spend an hour or more doing puzzles or building stuff. She’s still fearless and has the scrapes and bruises that prove it. I was actually a little alarmed at how beat up she was when I gave her a bath, but I suppose that’s just a childhood rite of passage.
One of the saving graces for us is that when Ali is ina difficult phase, Kurt tends to be more even keeled, and vice versa. Kurt is in one of those awesome sweet spots, which is more rare for him. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Kurt has quite a few mental health diagnoses which manifest themselves as aggression with peers, lying and manipulation, and defiance of authority figures. We found this program that specializes in working with kids his age and got him into it (it really pays off when your wife is a well known social worker around town, and can expedite things because she’s friends with everyone’s bosses…), and man it’s made a world of difference! His teachers now talk about what a fun, interesting kid he is instead of giving me yet another report of how he hurt a peer and/or threw a giant tantrum. He actually has friends, and 3 moms gave me their numbers to set up play dates on the last day of school! Now that the more difficult behaviors are lessened, what’s left are behaviors that seem to be signs of anxiety and low self esteem. I’ve never been a big fan of having kids on medications, I think we tend to go overboard with the ADD/ADHD stuff, but I’m pretty sure Kurt will end up on something when he enters elementary school. His mind skitters from topic to topic, he talks and talks and talks but it’s mostly a circular conversation that barely makes sense, he absolutely cannot focus on something if that’s not where his mind is at already. Right now that’s all ok when he’s in the Montessori model of learning, but public school will eat him alive if he still displays those traits. Aside from all that, he has some really great stuff going on too. He can totally dress himself independently, including shoes, which is really nice. Sometimes he’s the only person that can get Ali out of a funk, she will put her head in his lap and he will pet her hair and tell her everything will be ok. He’s also really good at taking things apart, putting them together, and figuring out how stuff works, it’s kind of amazing sometimes how easily he understands mechanical and coding toys.
Kasey is just so very two. He twos hard all day every day. You’re equally likely to see him streaking past in a mish mash of dress up outfits, throwing himself on the floor crying about the latest injustice done to him, poking bugs with sticks, or carrying the cat around. He loves animals of all kinds-especially sharks, eating all the food, and swimming in the pool whether it’s 70 or 90 degrees outside. Really, being outside in general is his thing, it’s totally his happy place. He’s also at that phase where they put together words kind of funny, with some hilarious results. Like that one time when he somehow dropped a french fry down his pant leg (I have no idea how that’s even possible), and he was yelling ‘hot leg, hot leg!’ until we figured out what he did. Or how he calls swimming ‘puddle jumping’ because he wears a puddle jumper. I was most worried about how he would react when accepting a baby because he’s very much the baby of the family. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that he is actually the one that is most interested in her, and the one that always tries to entertain and soothe her when needed. He’s almost as into the baby as he is the cat, which is really saying something!
We sometimes talk about what kind of adults we think the kids will be based on their current personalities. We think Ali will be some sort of type A high achieving person, she craves excitement and praise, she’s definitely a boss lady. Kurt craves stability and predictability, he will be the steady eddy, who will work the same job for 40 years and live in the same house forever. Kasey though, Kasey is my hedonistic one who craves the physical pleasures. He’s going to be my hippy child who spends some time blowing in the wind, traveling the country in his shitty car, playing guitar different places and drinking expensive craft beers.
That brings us to Z, our newest addition. A week and a half in and I can say, she’s a dream baby. She sleeps 12+ hrs a night, goes down for naps easy peasy, doesn’t cry very much, usually just during the nightmare diaper changes and cast care routine. She is just as content having her bottles being held or being put down on her own. She’s a cheerful little thing that’s always smiling and screeching that baby pterodactyl sound they all make when they find their voices. I bet she was a busy baby, crawling and getting into everything before her accident and the cast, so I might change my tune about her being a dream baby once it’s off and she has more freedom. We aren’t that far from the baby days with the other kids, so the house is still fairly baby proofed, but I’m sure she will surprise me when she gets mobile again.