The terrible twos, the three-nager, the ferocious fours… I’ve survived them all thanks to my rock-solid husband, a handful of friends I could count on for talk therapy, and an actual behavioral therapist to help me clinically handle my child on her worst days (and mine). All these stages are just small amounts of time in the grand scheme of things, but GOSH do they feel like a lifetime when you’re in them! Then, out of nowhere, came the fabulous fives and my most favorite age thus far revealed itself to me. Suddenly, my child woke up from this toddler dream-like state. She has an insatiable appetite for learning, and she carries on conversations that make me feel like I’m talking to a grown-up. She’s super daring and wants to go everywhere with me. She is totally my sidekick — and I love it!
It’s nice to finally be able to take her to the pool and watch her swim on her own and play water games with the other kids. We had THE best time ever at Disneyland because she was old enough, tall enough, and brave enough now to ride all the rides — even the ones that still make me nervous with excitement. It was so nice to see her running around the neighborhood on Fourth of July with all the other kids while they waved sparklers in the air and fireworks were booming overhead. I’m learning to give her more space to be free, and she’s definitely earned it. The independence she’s developing is just so much fun to watch. From what she picks out to wear, to the music she wants playing in the car, it’s interesting to see what she comes up with — and I’m always game.
She wants to help. She loves doing chores (you heard that right!), and she’s big enough now to handle most of them on her own. The way she talks and carries on conversations, I forget I’m talking to a soon-to-be kindergartener. She is very expressive, she makes correlations between concepts and events that interest her, she’s even got some funny jokes memorized. She is already reading and learning to cook, and those are two of my most favorite activities too. She’s also fun to eat out with. She tries new foods, uses her manners, and entertains herself while waiting for food to come — without me needing to fuss with her the whole time.
Now don’t get me wrong. We still have some behavioral things to work on — normal things kiddos her age go through as well as some more personal to her — like her OCD and anxiety. But now we are talking about them. And I mean we really talk about them, because she’s so much more aware of triggers now. And she feeds off information to help her work through problems. I don’t have to beat around the bush about feelings or consequences. She understands these things and can better explain herself. It’s refreshing because she wants to learn how to help herself. She puts behavioral techniques into play when she feels out of control without my asking her to practice what she’s learned. She asks for breaks. She asks for hugs. She asks for alone time. She asks for play time. She is very self-aware and five is showing this mommy right here that it’s not just the physical differences popping up (like her height and weight).
I love that five has been a great experience so far. I still look at her while she’s sleeping next to me and see my sweet baby that sucks her thumb and cuddles her dog lovie REALLY hard. I hear her laugh, and it’s the same since I’ve heard her first giggle. Once in a while, she wants “uppies”, and needs help going potty and I always do so with a smile on my face. I think about how this stage won’t last forever, just like the harder stages, and in five more years, she may not want my affection and help like she still does now. To be honest, I wish she could stay five forever…but (big sigh!) because we don’t possess that power except through pictures and videos, I hold on to every sweet moment this is teaching us and giving us right now with all my heart. I look forward to more five-year-old milestones like the first day of Kindergarten and what she’ll pick out to wear on picture day. Oh, FIVE. What a fun time to be a kiddo and a momma. All you Mommies out there going through the tougher younger years and on the brink of tapping out? I promise you there is a light at the end of that toddler tunnel — and it will all be worth it.