By: Shannon Ralph
I have come to the conclusion that I would like my twins, Sophie and Nicholas, to remain four years old forever. I have yet to figure out to whom I can make this request, but I am working on it. With eight years of parenting experience under my belt, I have discovered that children hit a “sweet spot” at about four years old. It is the age of pure perfection. Despite my many whining, ranting, and raving blogs to the contrary, my youngest children are truly at my absolute favorite age right now.
They are young enough to still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and fairy dust and magic. They have yet to discover sarcasm. Their favorite cartoons consist of beloved characters like Dora and Diego, The Backyardigans, and Wonder Pets, rather than the shuddersome and borderline creepy Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon their older brother loves. They are fiercely independent. They insist on doing everything themselves, but are young enough to still need mommy to kiss their boo-boos and tuck them in at night. Hello Kitty and Scooby-Doo band-aids can heal all wounds in the world they live in. They still ask for hugs and kisses. They still climb into my lap for special snuggles. When they are sleeping, they look like celestial creatures delivered directly from heaven above.
They are captivated and bewitched by the natural world around them. They relish the things that the rest of us have grown too busy and beleaguered to even notice. A yellow leaf twirling in the wind. Ants slowly making their way across the sidewalk. Fat worms wriggling in the dirt, warmed by the summer sun. They can draw, cut, color, and paste for hours on end. They smell amazing when they are freshly bathed and dressed in their footed pajamas. Then again, even when they are dirty and sweaty after an entire day of playing outside, I can’t get enough of the sweet scent of their little dishwater-blonde heads.
They are old enough to give voice to their hopes and dreams and fears and joys. I can have real conversations with them. Their capacity for talking —Nicholas’s lung capacity, in particular —is endless. They have surprisingly sophisticated language to describe their feelings, but often lack the ability to deal with those emotions. They are still prone to angry outbursts, irrational meltdowns, and the occasional tantrum, but those instances are precious to me. It is in those moments that they utter the outrageous and unexpected phrases that make me laugh out loud and provide fodder for my best Facebook status updates.
They giggle incessantly and unabashedly. They laugh those wonderful deep belly laughs that belong only to very young children. They are young enough to still find the world an extremely joyful place. Joyful and enthralling. Exciting and fascinating. They want to learn about everything. The whos and wheres and whens and —most importantly, most relentlessly —the whys.
They get chocolate pudding up their noses when they eat. They spill milk. Lollipops may as well just be placed right in their hair. Cut out the middleman. They manage to be clumsy and exquisitely graceful at the same time. They think everything I say is gospel. They idolize me in a way no one on this entire earth does. Their older brother learned years ago that I am not perfect. Sophie and Nicholas still live under the illusion that I am.
In reality, they are the ones who are Perfection personified. My sweet, hilarious, tempestuous, exhausting, hyper, gentle, affectionate, utterly lovely little four-year-olds. They exist somewhere on the border between babyhood and childhood.
It really is an amazing place.