Sunday, September 21, 2008

the old bait and switch

This weekend, a friend of my mother's - who she met while at the Optimum Health Institute several years ago - came to stay with us. Lea is from Ireland and she is absolutely lovely. She attends OHI every year for a few months to "detox" and whenever she is in town, we always try to see each other.

Lea currently lives in Northern California. She is one of the most gracious, peaceful, classy, soulful, earth loving people I've ever met. Twenty years ago, Lea ran a Montessori school. She is wonderful with children and her demeanor exudes calmness, patience and love.

Just having her in our home has an extremely peaceful affect on me.

Saturday morning when we sat down to eat breakfast, Lea was attempting to tell the children a beautiful story about a Quail named Robert. But she was distracted because Carolyn was trying to look under her shirt to see if she makes milk, William was continuously interrupting to see the earring holes in her ears, and Henry was screeching. Then there was Elizabeth who wasn't feeling well and with a temperature of 103, was trying to curl up on Lea's lap.

It was pure mayhem and the peaceful Lea looked over at me and said "I have no idea how I ran a school for so many years. How on earth did I do it?" I replied, "I don't know, you tell me. I have no idea how I have survived the past year."

The last time we saw Lea, Henry had not yet been born and I remember talking to her at length regarding my concerns with having four children under the age of three. And I clearly remember Lea telling me that if I could just get through three-years-old, four is a wonderful age. Yet this weekend, after seeing the drama and the hysteria, Lea told me that their behavior is perfectly typical and four will probably be the most challenging age yet.


I've been seriously holding out hope that within the next month, a tremendous transformation will have taken place. Where suddenly, our children will become reasonable and as a unit, they will become tolerable. But Lea crushed my theory and when I told her that people, including herself, had said FOUR would be the magic age, our elegant friend snorted.

She snorted.

For the past day, I've been thinking about how surviving the first few years of parenting is a lot like learning how to swim. When I was a child, I have memories of my older siblings standing in the swimming pool and encouraging me to paddle out to them.

"Come on, you can do it! It's only a little ways!"

Summoning what courage I could muster, I would jump in to the water and while attempting to stay afloat, I would struggle to reach my siblings, only to see that they were slowly walking backwards, away from me.

Instead of swimming a mere three feet, I would have swum six, nine, twelve feet. I would have made it across the pool and my siblings would be cheering me on, "See! You did IT!! You didn't think you could do it, but look what you've accomplished!!"

"Sure! And hey my whole life only flashed before my eyes once!"

Now, I am on the brink of our children turning four. And although I am proud of how far I have made it without requiring resuscitation, some days the edge of the pool still looks awfully far away.

"Hey little one!! Throw me that thing ... will you?!"


  1. I think you are doing great. It will be over so soon and you will regret wishing it away. Do not sweat the small stuff and it is all Small stuff.

  2. I too was told that four was the 'magic' age. Though, by the time they were a little over 4-1/2 things really started getting better.

    My boys turned 5 this past July and this age is GREAT. Seriously, they are so much easier.

    You'll make it!. You're doing a great job. Just keep swimming and you'll be at the egde in no time.

  3. Do you think we could "sue" people who tell you that the next age is better than the current age? We were told that three was definitely better than 2, I wish they were 2 again except the fact that we'd have to relive 3 again -- 4 is right around the corner for us too and it's NOT going to be better -- I can't see the edge either!

  4. I'm not sure if there is a magic age.

    Henry looks awfully cute with that froggy floaty in his hands!


  5. Okay, so do you want to start the threes again?

    I've loved the fours until this week. Now I can't stand them. It's like the Battle Of The Sexes over here ALL. DAY. LONG.

    The girls hate the boys. The boys hate the girls.

    Amanda told Gregory, "I don't LIKE boys."

    Then he started really loud fake crying. Which drives me NUTS.

    So I asked her why she doesn't like boys.

    And she said because they aren't GIRLS.

    And it goes on and on and on and on and on. You'll probably get like a good three weeks in the next year. Enjoy 'em!

  6. What?! No. No no no. 4 will be better. 4 will be great. If I can just get through 3 with all three in tact then 4 will be glorious. It has to be. I am not listening to this madness that 4 isn't like sun shining in from the heavens and breaking up the dark cloud that is the 3's.

  7. 4 still has issues, but it's better than 3. 5 is truly the "magic age". Honestly, my boys just turned 6 last week and the amount of work they BOTH require from me is about half of what my 15 month old SINGLETON requires!!!


  8. I've got only one four year old, so I feel for you. Four is better than three in some ways, but it's still trying. I wanted to be a preschool teacher and then i spent a year working in a class of three year olds. Four is a great age, but still harder. I bet as the year goes on, you'll see a difference. My favorite age right now is six. My oldest is a hard kid, but she's a great six year old.

  9. EVERYONE told me that 3 is the really difficult age. then my daughter turned two and it's mayhem over here. i don't believe anything anymore. i expect it will be madness until the kid is in school. and then it will be madness again once she is a teenager. i have so little hope in getting a break again. how's that for optimism?

  10. In my opinion, three is the hardest age -- because they lack control and they still have tantrums. By four they are less busy and into things, but they're also a ton smarter. So my son (almost five) has given me a run for my money lately, but I'd still rather have a smartmouth 4-year old than a child that throws fits every five minutes. So, it's out with one annoying behavior, on with the next! :) You are doing great!