We made it to four-and-a-half! Kate is very particular about telling people that she is four and a half and not just four. Behavior wise, we are at a much better place then when I was writing her four year old update. Some of the suggestions from The Difficult Child were helpful. The portable digital clock was effective, the goodie plate not so much. Mostly I think she just needed time to work out what ever issues that instigated the regression, but I feel that is one of the greatest challenges of parenting -when to know what is ‘just a phase’ and when to know when to intervene? Sometimes the explanations are apparent. My parents came to visit for two and a half weeks over the Christmas holiday, we had a few parties and hosts guests at our house. Then my parents left. A few days later Husband went away for the better part of two weeks and Kate was left with me and Tyler. She became especially clingy during our morning routine; wanting me to dress her…needing me to keep her company when she goes potty… following me around like a shadow. I know there will come a time when she’ll want nothing to do with me and I’ll be longing for these days, but really, is it too much to ask just to go to the bathroom alone?
Height 42 inches
Weight 48 pounds
Eating: While my parents were visiting for Christmas break, Husband, Kate and I went out to a holiday party for his work. When we returned we found my parents sitting in front of the fire drinking wine and eating out of a box of Che.x Snack Mix. Kate asked if she could have some, and my mother responded that it was late and “she probably ate enough at the holiday party”. She then followed up by asking “What’s your weight goal Kate?” TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE QUESTION TO ASK HER! I informed my mom as I ushered Kate to her room as it was way passed her bedtime. The next morning, I noticed that my parents ate half of the box. I was tempted to throw the ‘weight goal’ comment back at my mom, but I didn’t as that would be a dick thing to say.
A few days later, we hosted my aunt and uncle for dinner on Christmas Day. I served a Frozen II themed cake for dessert (because that was all that was left at the Safe.way bakery when you wait until the last minute and pick up a cake after work on Christmas Eve). Kate ate the frosting off her piece and asked her another slice of cake. I quietly replied that she was only going to get one peace of cake. Once again, my mom asked Kate about her weight goal. I fucking lost it and blew up at my mom. I called her out on the fact she can’t give Kate multiple temptations (she put candy canes on our tree, gave Kate Pee.ps in her stocking and they made seven different types of cookies) and then shame her. As I excused myself to do the dishes, I heard my dad mumble something about my mom bugging him about his weight goal.
My mom joined me in the kitchen to let me know that she thought my response was inappropriate and ‘hurtful’ to her. I stood my ground and said it was absolutely justified given that this was the SECOND time I had to tell her that her words were inappropriate and furthermore, most anorexics cite one specific comment that triggered their illness. I had to stop her before she utters something when Kate is older and more impressionable. I also informed her that asking someone about their weight goal is a dick thing to say to anyone, especially when it comes from someone who has never struggled with weight issues. “Well, what are you going to do about her eating?” She turned the tables to me.
Here is where I have to admit even before her words, I have been concerned about Kate’s eating and her size. While I don’t bring many snack foods into our house (Fruit Snacks, Z-bars and Gold.fish crackers are our staples) I feel I’m too lenient when we go out. Kettle corn at the Farmer’s market. A cake pop from Starbucks while we’re shopping. During the CrossFit Open last autumn, I had to bring Kate to the gym and I know she gorged on cookies and cupcakes from the pot luck table, while I was warming up and competing. I checked her stats and she’s gained 4 lbs and grown half an inch since her forth birthday. She’s developing a bit of a belly and some of her (size 5) clothes don’t fit. She often gets a Plummer’s crack with her pants and her shirts ride up like Will Farrell in the infamous “Cowbell” sketch on Saturday Night Live. I purged our panty after my parents visiting (giving up the Z-bars and Gold.fish, but keeping the fruit snacks) and I’m vowing to be more vigilant over her eating and her weight.
Sleep: So my plan was to have Kate falling asleep on her own without me hanging out in her room. I gave her the privilege (as I really talked it up) of ‘reading’ on her own. Kate does like to look at books on her own and as she’s memorized several books she can ‘read’ to herself. It was a fail. She kept getting out of bed to ask me questions, wanting a drink of water, for one more hug…etc..I ended up going back into her room just to keep her in the bed. Sigh. She has been better about sleeping through the night and staying in her room. The trouble is (and this is related to her late bedtime) it’s sometimes hard to wake her up in the morning. We’re all going to be in for a rude awakening when she starts Kindergarten (which starts at 8 AM) and we’re going to have to push our departure time up by 45 minutes. I’m secretly hoping that kindergarten will wear her down so much that she’ll naturally fall asleep much earlier (and on her own)! We’ve pretty much phased naps out on the weekend (she still naps at school) but she’ll occasionally doze in the car depending on the day’s activities. If she sleeps, great; but I no longer drive around or stay in the car just to her to nap. For the most part she’s been coping pretty well, but we still have some major meltdowns due to her being overtired.
Clothes: As mentioned previously, she’s now is size 5, as it has been her pattern to be one year ahead. I purged her size four clothes just after Halloween, keeping a few dresses from companies that tend to run a little larger on their sizes. By Thanksgiving, I had to purge those dresses as well. She’s become better about getting dressed by herself in the morning, as I think she enjoys being able to pick our her own clothes. I am anticipating quite a challenge, if she gets into her new Kindergarten, which requires uniforms. Previously, I’ve been very pro-uniforms. It takes away a lot of pressure to buy designer clothes for kids, makes decision easier… I’m now seeing that those benefits may apply more to older children.
My friends’ son attends this school and she noted that it is easier for boys. She just had to buy a few school sweatshirts and then stocked up on navy shorts and white polos at Target, which were much cheaper that the uniform school. Girls have to wear a plaid skirt (which is a nearly identical plaid to my old high school field hockey kit) or a jumper, which I’m sure is much more expensive than the Old Navy and Gap dresses I tend to buy from the sale and clearance racks. Kate refused to wear her current school’s sweatshirt for their field trip (literally the only day they are required to wear it) so yeah, I’ve got some battles ahead of me. Kids can earn “free dress passes” for doing good deeds, or having zero tardy slips and during their birthday month, so I’m going to have to use the possibility of a free dress pass as an incentive to get her out of the house on time in the morning.
She’s also totally warm blooded. I gave up on nagging her about wearing a jacket in the morning, as I figure experience is more effective -let her discover that it is cold out and a jacket is in order. Nope. She’s not cold and we end up carrying her jacket back and forth to school. Her father wears shorts in the dead of [California] winter, so maybe she inherited it from him.
Night time Potty training: We had a slight setback in October when she would climb into my bed in the morning.. and then pee in my bed. I started taking her to the potty when she was trying to get into our bed and then after a few weeks, I found she was sleeping through the night (and sometimes in her bed) while staying dry.
Likes: She has become quite the hostess. I was cutting vegetable for my lunches one week and she decided to host a party. She found some old paper plates from her birthday parties, set them up around the house and serves my carrots and cut peppers (after I had weighed and bagged them -sigh) She even grabbed some plastic cups and filled them with ice and water. I decided to let her run with it as it was keeping her occupied for more than an hour. However, I discovered I had let the game go too far, when she was devastated that her friends weren’t able to come over to her spur of the moment party and she was even more mad when I re-purposed the water glasses to the cat’s water bowl. Recently, she wanted to make a fruit plate for dessert and insisted on arranging the strawberries and raspberries in a circle and wanted yoghurt for a dipping sauce..
She also loves her bath time and will happily play with her toys for almost an hour. Bath time has replaced nap time for Mommy’s time to get stuff done. She is pretty good at entertaining herself and playing independently at times. We refer to this as Kate being in ‘the zone’. You do not disturb Kate when she is in the zone. You do not talk to her, you sneak by her so she is not distracted. You never know how long she will last in the zone, so you make the most of it when she is there.
Activities: She’s enrolled in soccer through her school and after skipping a session, I’ll sign her up for Spanish classes again. Although she resists when I try to speak Spanish with her, according to her teacher, she loves it and asks her for Spanish words outside of the class. After our major setback with swimming this summer, she’s really progressed in the past few weeks and is taking some strokes independently. Most of all, there is no resistance. She asks, “is tonight swimming?” Almost every night when I pick her up from school and when she gets out of the pool she tells me “Swimming is Awesome! I love Swimming!” Gymnastic has been more of a challenge. Her previous teacher, who was the head of the toddler program and was absolutely amazing moved out of the area, so she had a string of subs while they were trying to find a replacement. Most of the instructors were good, just not as good as her previous teacher. Toward the end of last year, she got moved up to the 4 year old class and the teacher is a great instructor. He is a also a transgender male, which has led us to engage in some conversations about gender identity. This coach also started the gym’s first gender fluid classes where the participants can learn any apparatus they want. Girls won’t be told they can’t do rings because it’s a boy’s event. Boys can do the balance beam. I’ve started gearing her to some specific goals; traversing the ‘rainbow bars’ (for some reason she doesn’t like to call them monkey bars) I also started an online course for handstand push ups and one of the features is that if you post videos on their private Facebook page, the coaches with critique you. I’ve been trying to get Kate to do handstand walks while I do my work and I once posted a video of her and asked someone in the group to indulge her with a comment. When I showed her how many people “liked” her work, she was determined to get better. Welcome to parenting in 2020!
Looking forward to: It’s going to be a busy year. Once it gets a bit warmer, I want to take Kate for some training runs with a goal to actually have her run/walk a 5K in April. We’ll visit my parents during her spring break and we’re going back to Hawaii in August just before school starts. I should start thinking about her fifth birthday party, which she wants a Frozen theme. It’s going to hit me pretty hard, she’s no longer my baby and she won’t be a toddler anymore. As much as I sometimes resent her clinginess, I’m also preparing myself that she’ll want more independence. She won’t want as many hugs or cuddles. She’ll sleep in her bed all night, and I miss waking up next to her in the morning. I’m looking forward to the next chapters, but dreading them at the same time.