Julia has been engaging in non-stop naughtiness for a couple of days now. Yesterday, as we were buckling up in the car to go on a fabulous, fun and exciting trip, she decided she was just going to DIE if she didn't get a drink. The in-laws are standing in the driveway, I have the baby buckled in, and the two big kids in the back seat and it's hot and we're going to lunch first and I don't want to get her a drink. I just want her to zip her trap and sit down and let us get on the road.
But instead, she completely lost her shit. Crying, blubbering, arching her back, yelling. And she is so unbelievably loud. She opens her mouth and emits a sound that is like a tornado siren, "BUT I-I-I-I-IIII'MMMMM SO-OH-OH-OH-OH THIIIIIIRRRRSSSSSTY!" and the next thing I know, I am yanking her out of the car and carrying her inside, where I sit her on the counter, hold her face with my hands and get nose to nose with her.
You are not being a nice girl! You have been naughty all day! You hit your cousin! You tripped your brother! You are yelling and being naughty! What is wrong with you?
She looks at me with big, wet eyes, face streaked with tears, hair plastered to her head and, between great, wracking sobs says "I am only four years old! I just do these things!"
There is something about Julia that pushes every button I have. Whether it's her tenacity (relentless), her volume (supersonic), her temper (ferocious), when she wants to get under my skin, she can do it with lightening speed. I have lost my temper with her a shameful number of times. I have yelled and threatened and been less the kind of parent I want to be with her than my other children. Simply put, she makes me crazy.
Then she looks at me with that angelic face and says something like "I am only four years old! I just do these things!" and I remember that she is this very small person, who - more than anything in the world - wants and needs my love. It is very humbling.
Four is the kind of hard that I have no memory of. Four is just old enough to know what you want, but too little to know how to get it most of the time. Four is too small to soldier on when you're tired or hungry. Four is a black hole, attention sucking vortex. Four has no voice modulation. Julia at four is stuck in the middle, and that's a tough spot to be in at any age. She's spent the past couple of weeks trying to assert her place with the visiting grandparents and cousin. She has plenty of competition for their attention and affection, and it's been hard work for a little kid.
Tonight, everyone else (minus the baby) is out of the house. Julia and I played Hullabaloo and ate pizza and she is waiting patiently for her brother to go to sleep. Then we'll watch a movie together and she'll sleep in our room, cuddling close to me in the big bed. Because she needs to know that, to me, there is no Julia in the middle. That she isn't stuck there, between being the big kid and being the baby. That she is as special and loved and cherished as her brother and sister, even if she spends more time in the corner than either of them combined. She is, after all, only four years old. She just does those things.
2 weeks ago