As your parents, we do really ridiculous things. Last month we went to Grandma and Grampy's house in Florida, and they were thoughtful enough to borrow a bike from one of their friends. It had training wheels and a parents' handle, which was quite convenient because we spent a lot of time walking and this way, we could push you when you got tired. We kept asking if you wanted to take the training wheels off, and but you said no. We didn't push it, but then I did something kind of silly and told you a lie. I told you that this bike had training wheels but your bike back home had just celebrated its Number 4 birthday (because that's the way you talk about birthdays -- your #4 birthday, not your 4th birthday) and that, like boys, your bike got bigger, and part of getting bigger was that it lost its training wheels. You looked skeptical, and throughout the vacation, you kept asking if your bike had its #4 birthday and no longer had its training wheels, and I repeatedly assured you it had.
Well... then we got home, pulled into the garage, and there was your bike right out in the open, still with training wheels attached. You looked at me with a stern look of indictment, "see mommy, it didn't have its birthday. It still has training wheels." You had what seemed to be incontrovertible evidence on your side, so I lied again. "You're right buddy. I must have gotten it wrong and the bike's #4 birthday is this weekend." I thought I was sooooooo clever and quick thinking. You see where this is heading...
You: "Are we going to have a party for the bike's #4 birthday"
Me: "Uh, sure..."
A few hours later, after I've emailed a few friends inviting them over for a BBQ and a birthday party for an inanimate object...
You: "Are we going to have cake for my bike's birthday?"
Over the next couple of days...
You: "Will the bouncy house be at the birthday?"
Me: "Sure buddy." (in my defense, we own it, so it's not like I went out and rented one)
You: "Will you get balloons for my bike, mommy?"
[Steph searches the basement and confirms we have balloons]
That Saturday, the guests arrived and were very excited to help you celebrate your bike's #4 birthday, and of course, Auntie Nic even brought the bike some presents: a new bell, a light up flapper for the spokes, and a few other awesome accessories. We rolled out your bike, sans training wheels, and you barely looked at it, and instead just headed into the bouncy house. The next day, we tried to teach you to ride it. You got on it for maybe a total of 25 seconds, got off, and have since refused to give it another try. Needless to say, I'm feeling a little stupid that after all that pomp and circumstance, I'm regretting ever taking the training wheels off.
I am, however, not sure if I should put them back on or just let it lie until you're ready to try again. On the one hand, you're 4 not 14 - so it's not really a big deal that you don't know how to ride a 2-wheeler. On the other hand, it kind of bums me out that you're afraid to try it. It's not like you fell and are emotionally traumatized by it... it just felt a little unsteady your first time around the garage, and you thought, "nope, this isn't for me."
I think you're so smart and generally just kind of good at things, that you shy away from things you're not immediately good at. They have done a bunch of studies on that exact trait, and now all the articles say not to praise kids for innate characteristics (smart, pretty, athletic, etc), but the process or the effort ("You worked really hard!"). I try to do both because when you randomly bust out your million dollar vocabulary, it's hard not to think "wow, you're so smart."
- The girls were sitting in the back seat and one of them started crying. I asked, "Mase, why is Hayden crying? Did Quinn steal her binky?" and you don't respond with a simple yes or no like most 4 year olds, but instead answered, "Yes, it appears so."
- Tonight when putting you to bed, you saw something you liked and out of nowhere, yelled, "Sennnnnnnn-sational!" I asked you what it meant because sometime I think you just hear words and don't really know, but you said, "mommy, it's when something is really awesome."
- You were playing "I Spy" at school, and Ms. Lori reported that when it was your turn you said "I spy something scrumptious!"
- Mama said something, and you were skeptical, so you probed her hard on it. "Are you sure? Are you positive? Are you certain?" I don't know many 4 year olds who use synonyms with such command.
- You have glow in the dark stars and a moon that stick to your wall. It was missing and you asked mama to get it. She asked where it went, and you said "apparently it's behind the bed". Apparently?!?
I don't know, perhaps I'm wrong and all 4 year olds talk like you do, but it never ceases to make me chuckle. For you, language is like a new toy you can't wait to play with and try out, and it's one of the things I really find most charming about you.
But back to the trying things you're not good at right away or scare you a little bit... We just signed you up for learn to skate along with your buddy Drew. I was a little skeptical about how it was all going to turn out, being so fresh off the bicycle sting after all. The night before your first lesson you confided in Mama that you were a little nervous, and she gave you a great pep talk that it was ok to be nervous because that would help you concentrate and if you did it, you would build up your confidence and be brave. And we reassured it that you only had to try it and if you didn't like it, you didn't have to stay or go back the following week. The morning of the lesson, you whispered to me you were nervous, but you reassured me that it was ok, because being nervous was going to help you concentrate and build up your confidence, exactly like Mama had told you the night before. Mama took you to the lesson, but since the girls were sleeping, I didn't join until the very end, but she said you did great and you seem pretty excited about going again this weekend.
So buddy, great job on all the hard work you did growing up this month, for trying new things, for making me smile over and over again, and for being so damn cute, charming, and smart (see, I can't help it.)
I love you.