We all knew it was only a matter of time, and squeezed our eyes shut in denial of the inevitable outcome, but we are finally here and it’s time to face the music.
My 3-year-old is now 4.
The whole thing is simply too shocking for me to comprehend. Parents going back to the beginning of time must have been faced with this same level of astonishment, and again, I’m a tad perplexed that I wasn’t warned by my elders of this forthcoming event.
It’s just so, well, bigger than 3.
1-2-3 are very commonplace numbers. They are often used (either in ascending or descending order) before taking a picture, when starting a race, or for counting yellow chicks in baby books. But once you get to 4, it’s a whole different ballgame. If I’m going to stick with the counting example, once 4 is in the equation we are now talking about shuttle launches, musical countdowns, and New Year’s Eve rituals.
This is the big leagues. My boy is 4.
I can hold conversations with him, he notices when I get a haircut, he remembers where things are in the house better than I do, he tells me stories about his day, he has all but perfected the art of stalling, and he has preferences, dislikes, and peculiarities.
I just can’t stop myself from thinking, “Holy cow, he isn’t just a little boy anymore, he is an actual person.”
The funniest part about the shocking realization of someone else being that much older, is that you yourself are that much older as well. It’s like whenever I see someone from the cast of Full House in a documentary, cheesy Sunday afternoon Lifetime movie, or disturbing Internet story and think, “Wow, I can’t believe how much older Kimmy Gibler is these days, where did the time go?” only to realize that same time has past me by as well.
My son is 4 and the flip side is that I am 4 years older as well.
Thankfully my son, and now sons, inspire me to be a better person. I now have this weird urge to make more responsible decisions and take care of my body. (Where were they in college when I was eating Dominos every night and skipping classes?) But honestly, I’ve lost weight since the birth of my first son, I exercise regularly, and make every attempt to spend more time with family and friends.
It’s a strange thing. You spend most of your life trying to do the opposite of what your parents tell you, but it’s not until you become a parent yourself that you realize everything they were saying was pretty much spot on. I’d be lying if I said that fact made me happy.
So kid – my son, my boy, my big buddy – welcome to the big leagues. I’m proud of you, I’m proud of myself, I’m very proud of your mother, and someday when the baby realizes there is more to life than putting everything in his mouth and throwing food off of his high chair, he will be proud of you as well.
‘Brad the Dad’ is a parent columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter: @readbradthedad.