Rules that don’t apply to 4 year olds.

Having a 4 year old in the house is not unlike having a baby; there’s no reasoning with their logic, any demand for attention needs to be met now, not after you’ve taken a breath, you need to be ever alert to the very real dangers a normal house poses (whoever thought of building railings on stairs for support?!). Only now, instead of being able to be distracted with a nipple in their mouth or a noise-making toy, they are capable of subjecting you to hours of screeching wails or long arguments that result in a mental breakdown (yours, theirs is permanent).

One of the most fruitless things you can do is to try to convince a 4yo that nature has rules that most humans live by. Not our rules, mind you, which you have to admit can be arbitrary, but nature‘s. They simply don’t buy it. When I can bend rules made by my parents, who I can touch and see and ignore, what’s this nature thing they keep talking about? Weird, is what they think most likely. In our house, this attitude makes these widely accepted “rules” mere myths.

Breakfast is only one meal.

Says who? When you’re 4, breakfast just opens the floodgates to lunch. 8am: french toast with milk, 8:45: cereal with (self poured) or without milk, 10: blemish-free banana, definitely no strings attached, cut into pieces, 10:15: 5 pretzels, with generous crumbs left over for ants to find their way around, 11: 2 tubs of Dora yogurt with favorite spoon.

Lunchtime is dicey. Not because they have been stuffing themselves since breakfast, but because there is a chance that what’s served isn’t up to expectation, in which case there is a sudden onset of crippling stomach pains. Until the next time.

Both parties may get injured in a fair duel.

If you’re agreeing to fight with one older and probably stronger than you, you also agree to be whacked when you’re not looking, cannot take a shot and run and hide behind mom fearing retaliation, or end the duel as soon as you’ve had your turn at swinging the weapon (pillow or stuffies). It’s not necessarily unfair that your brother is stronger than you and therefore is able to pull you harder than you can pull him. Yelling “it’s not FAIR!” will not get you any sympathy from the adult who warned you against agreeing to the whole thing in the first place.

Age makes a difference.

Contrary to what a 4yo wholeheartedly believes, age is not merely a fantastic concept. At this stage, a couple of years makes a huge difference in what one can physically accomplish and mentally grasp. Unless you are an extraordinarily advanced 4yo you WILL have trouble with fractions no matter how easy your 7yo brother may make them seem. It is no less confusing for me, your mother, to chart a course of action when you cry if I don’t give you 5 stars for your scribbles or if I do give you 5 stars for obviously not solving the word problem.

It’s hard being 4.

Adults sometimes get tired and actually like to nap.

I don’t remember my own experience much but it’s plenty obvious to me now that a low center of gravity combined with the daily pull of the moon gives 4yos an unlimited pool of energy to draw from during daylight hours. This bouncing and rattling and gnashing and chattering is only abated by a sudden attack of narcolepsy at roughly 8pm (thank heavens!), until when the only way to walk is to run, the only way to talk is to yell, and the only way to think is aloud.

Clothing is desirable.

No. Just no.

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