Thursday, August 04, 2011


Fourth born ...


You are the baby in our family.

And you know it.

Over the past year, I've really worried about your developmental progress and as a result, we've had you evaluated by numerous resources. Every single one of the professionals that we've spoken to have reassured us that you are developing perfectly fine. But all of the professionals have also agreed that the challenge(s) we face with you surround discipline. Your father and I work very hard to ensure that we are disciplining you as fairly and consistently as we do your siblings, but the fact is ... you're just a higher-maintenance chap.

Recently, I was watching a video clip that I had filmed of your siblings when they were your age and quite frankly, I was stunned. Because my mind is slipping and I don't exactly recall what your siblings could do when they were four-years-old and you're not often around other four-year-old children, I don't have anyone to "gauge" you against. But as I watched your brother and sister sing, "God Bless America" (from the mountains, to the fairies...) and request cake in complete sentences, I realized that with you, there is a definite gap.

Your behavior at four, is much like your siblings' behavior at two and a half.

And at this age, that's a BIG difference.

You talk. But you don't exactly carry on conversations. You are unable (or unwilling) to clearly articulate a story or tell me what was your happiest moment in a day. Whenever I query you about colors, you'll tell me that a lemon is red and an orange is blue. When I sit down to read you a book about colors or numbers - or anything remotely academic - you'll bore almost instantly. One day, I was very frustrated and made you sit down and sort blocks by color. Only when you could see that I was taking this very seriously, did you demonstrate the slightest hint of cooperation.

So it makes me wonder ... do you really struggle with these concepts, or do you like the attention that comes from being the baby? One of the psychologists that we spoke to said that because of the age difference between you and your siblings, and the fact that they are more advanced than you, you've recognized that you can't exactly keep up with them, so you revert to your own game: a behavioral strategy that draws you the most attention.

It's your survival mechanism.

A few weeks ago, it dawned on me that you've never had your own play date. All of the play dates that you've participated in have been held for your siblings, who have been routinely getting together with similarly aged children since they were four-months-old. From the time you were a tiny baby, you'd be brought along to these play dates, and as you grew - the only way that you could "participate" with the kids, would be to chase them. So you'd run after them, and they'd run away, and everyone would be laughing. Except for me.
These days, whenever we get together with other children, I will have a pep talk beforehand with your siblings. And during that pep talk, I'll ask how we can play together that will be kind and polite and make everyone feel involved. And the resounding answer is always, "Don't run away from each other!" But they inevitably forget and do exactly that which I've warned them against because no one remembers anything that I say.

You are very bright. You were potty trained before you were two and are although you only turned four a month ago, you are learning to swim very well without the use of a life jacket. Of course, that means your father and I can't take our eyes off you for a second when you're in or near the water, but we always believed blinking was overrated. Additionally, you'll be starting a new preschool in the fall and are so excited, you ask about it, daily. I'm excited that someone from Child Find will be working with you closely, to continue assessment of a potential behavioral issue and how we can best address and resolve.

You are a very finicky eater. If not for oranges, bananas, apples and strawberries - you would eat absolutely no produce. (Except for the handfuls of fresh spinach that your father stealthily adds to your fruit smoothies.) You enjoy only strawberry yogurt and sandwiches with the crust cut off. Once upon a time - a long time ago, you also loved edamame. But now, you love edamame so you can shoot it out of your mouth.

Forewarning: our entire family will soon be embracing a whole new philosophy surrounding food, so your options for dinner will soon consist of cucumbers.

Or tomatoes.

Your obsession with Buzz Lightyear has been replaced with an obsession for Superman and early every morning, when the rest of the house is still sleeping, you'll tip toe in to our room and whisper in my face, "Hi Sweetheart. Superman is here." Then, you'll climb in to bed with your father and I and curl up next to me for another hour of sleep. It's always difficult to fall back to sleep once you're in bed kicking the curds and whey out of me, so my mind wanders as I watch you doze. Sometimes I contemplate that we need to work harder to treat you like a big boy. But that contemplation is usually defeated by the acknowledgement of passing time.

All too soon, you'll be all grown up and miraculously, 99.999% of the worries that I've had will resolve on their own. So I try not to worry about anything and instead focus on the fact that you actually ARE my baby. You love to be held and cuddle and why would I want for that awesomeness to end a moment sooner than it undoubtedly will?

You are the apple of my eye.

And not a day goes by when I don't think about how blessed I am to have you.