Having kids provides hours of entertainment. HOURS. Especially at the ages Bean and Gracie are right now. Bean is four and he is awesome at it. He asks questions around the clock these days. He wants to know how everything works, why we do anything, where we are going, who’s going to be there, what everything is… If there is a question to be asked, Bean is going to ask it. And while it drives me completely insane sometimes, (seriously, I think this age might be more frustrating than the terrible two’s…) I have to stop and remind myself that he is simply learning and this is how four-year-olds learn.
Also, in the four-year-old phase is this insane sense of justice. Bean wants to point out every chance he gets whenever he has been wronged. I think that’s the part of this age that irritates me the most. It is constant tattle-telling. Which leads to constant bickering between Bean and Gracie. I was trying to referee every issue they had, but I quickly figured out that a) there are not enough hours in the day if I need to get anything else done at all and b) it’s actually healthier for them if I let them work through some of the bickering. Now, I only step in when it is something that breaks a house rule or if it escalates before they can resolve the problem. But the little “he took this/she touched my toy/it’s my turn” bickering, I’m letting them work through for the most part. And in doing that, I’m realizing that sometimes they SOUND like they are angry, but really that’s just them learning how to use tone. If I say something like, “Hey, you guys need to be talking nicer, please,” they’ll instantly stop the yelling and finish their argument in much more reasonable voices on their own. I think as long as Chris and I are continuing to guide them through how to communicate when you’re disagreeing, they are really going to learn a lot about communicating from each other.
The root of 99% of the tattle-telling and bickering that Bean is doing right now is because, while he is four, Gracie is a rip-roarin’ two year old. We’ve thankfully curbed a lot of the temper tantrums and meltdowns, but Gracie will be Gracie, and she loves nothing more than destroying the world her brother creates.
Take Friday afternoon, for example. It was gorgeous outside, so I sat in the driveway with them after school while we waited for Chris to get home. They had popsicles, sidewalk chalk, and bikes, and life was grand. Bean is learning his “at” words at school (cat, bat, rat, sat, pat…), and so he spend about ten painstaking minutes carefully writing each of them out on the sidewalk. Then he started writing his sight words, too (the, it, as, a, for…). Which took another ten or fifteen minutes. By the time he was done, his half of the driveway was a perfect list of every word he knew. The entire time he was working, Gracie was sitting in her chair next to me, eating a popsicle and carefully watching everything Bean did. The very minute he stood up and said, “I’M FINISHED!” Gracie jumped up, grabbed a red piece of chalk, and with guerrilla-like warfare skills, she ran over to his list of words and drew a giant red line across about six of them.
Bean, of course, melted down. “GRACIE RUINED MY WORDS!”
And Gracie ran around the driveway laughing, until she found herself in time out. But even that didn’t really bother her. She just laughed hysterically from time out.
This tactic of “hit and run to ruin Bean’s neatly ordered world” has become Gracie’s favorite past time. And, I’ll admit, it gives Chris and me a good laugh after the kids have gone to bed. It’s just so funny because at two-years-old, she knows just how to push his buttons. Nothing makes him more upset than to have his little world shaken and stirred. And Gracie knows that.
While this all would seem like the two of them are constantly at odds, it is amazing to me how much they love to play together, despite everything that drives them crazy about the other. The absolute worse punishment I can give right now is to tell them they can’t play together. We try not to use that one too often, but every now and then for our sanity and the sake of our eardrums, it has to be done.
Speaking of eardrums, the volume at our house right now is OUT OF CONTROL. Bean’s default volume is yelling. No clue why. He’ll be telling us about his day, but he’ll be yelling at us the entire time, “I PLAYED ON THE PLAYGROUND WITH JOHN! HE CHASED ME AND THEN I FELL DOWN! BUT I GOT UP AND THEN I CHASED HIM! IT WAS SO FUN, MOM!” And it’s kind of like when the radio in your car is too loud, but you don’t notice until you turn the car off. In the silence, you’re like, “Goodness, that was LOUD!” It’s like that with Bean. I don’t notice until I DO notice, and by then it’s too late.
Because I’m already deaf.
Is the volume an issue for anyone else with toddlers and preschoolers? Or is that just us? It is something you try to get under control, or is that just life with kids?
Help me, Imaginary Friends. Save my eardrums.