Four is an amazing age, taking a little one from toddler to school kid in way too short a time.  I’m watching yet another one of my offspring finish up the year, turning five in a few weeks.  A wonder to behold.

Four is the champion year for make-believe, dress up, pretend, toys.  A four year old is forever dressing in costume, being a super hero or a princess or whatever strikes his/her fancy at the moment.  They name their toys and surround themselves with stuffed animals or cars or action heroes in a fantasy world of their own.  They project the world they’ve heard about onto their play, creating situations based on their understanding of what they hear and see.  It’s funny to listen to one talk to a stuffed baby unicorn about what they are going to do today.  Or watch them place their dolls or action heroes into lego houses to mimic the adults who talk to them in tones that translate into something different when you hear it through a four year old’s voice.

Four is an age of individuality.  Let a four year old pick out his or her own outfit and you’ll know a lot about what’s to come.  And you’ll definitely smile!

Four is the age when you start to really relate to your friends.  It’s having another four year old come up to you and say, “You can be my friend.”  And thinking that’s great.  Until something happens and you get your feelings hurt and don’t understand.  It’s a time when girls hug when they see each other and boys just talk to other boys like they’ve known them all their lives because they are both standing in front of a display of action heroes in a store.  “I’ve got that one.  Which one do you have?”  I’ve watched big boys, known as adult men, do the same thing.

Four is the age of thinking you can do anything, of thinking you know more than you do.  Your speech is clearer, you know more words, you’re more coordinated than you were at three.  Four year olds think they’re there!  But, of course, they aren’t.  I have the most independent granddaughter of any child I’ve ever met.  She keeps telling me “I can take care of myself.”  She honestly thinks she can, but I have to remind her that she is four and that she needs to listen to what we tell her.  I think of her father…oh my!

Four year olds are learning skills, some in their own mind.  You have to watch them because they think they know how to cook, work the computer, turn on machines, pour milk…the list is endless.  They know a little bit too much, but not enough, sometimes.

Four is the age when the magic of associating letters and numbers with reading and writing and adding is starting to form.  I read a lot about how kids are being forced to read too early and kindergartens are taking away their childhoods.  I can agree with that – a lot.  I also was watching this little one read and spell her first words with that light of understanding in her eyes.  Nobody forced her.  Reading is one of the more unpredictable miracles of all times and we don’t know when a little brain will click with the recognition.  This child is bright, I’ll give her that with a grandmother’s pride, but she isn’t the only bright child out there.  She’s been playing with an iPad since she was a few months old, she’s had interactive television shows, and there is that branding of companies that seems to be our first reading lesson for children.  How old do they have to be before they recognize the sign at McDonalds or the ice cream store?  It would almost be stranger if she wasn’t starting to put it all together.

Mostly, and it does also have its challenges for parents and teachers, four is a precious age.  Four year olds still cuddle, still look adorable when they are frustrated trying to tackle a new task, and still have a joy of childhood in their eyes.  There’s no going back.  Five is coming, still a wonderful age.  Five year olds have more of the world in them, more to taint their innocence and more to take them a step further away from your protection.  I’m going to treasure this last couple of weeks with a four year old, watching this magical transformation that has taken place from four to five.  I can’t wait to see what’s next for this one?DSC_0011