Four! Where have you been the last few years while I was sleep-deprived and knee deep in nappies? I'm so glad you're here now though. I'd heard rumours of the "fu*king fours" from people who'd experienced it earlier. You're not as notorious as say the "terrible twos" or the "threenage" years but I'd been warned about the fournado ahead: the stubbornness, endless negotiations and testosterone-fuelled aggression.
And look, you're not a complete walk in the park, let's put that on the table from the outset. While the tantrums have, for the most part, disappeared, the odd one definitely sneaks through. And they're absolute corkers. You're also still a tad fussy when it comes to eating food that's not chicken nuggets or blueberries. And your insults certainly have some bite these days when you don't get what you want. But oh how there's so much to love.
You've brought sleep back into my nights. I no longer wake half-conscious, counting the hours I managed to clock and wondering how many coffees it will take just to get me functioning. You climb into my bed sometimes during the night when you've had a bad dream. And you don't know it, but the warmth of you, your whisper-soft hair against my cheek as you tumble back into safer, happier dreams, is something I cherish. I breathe in your stillness because you're always so "busy" running around in your capes and building your Lego creations.
You are pure joy. Your sense of humour may be lowbrow and primarily toilet-focused (farts, poos, bum bum) but your giggles have the power to stop time. It's full body laughter that's contagious and silly and fills my heart. You sing to yourself, making up the lyrics when you don't know the words. Shells on the beach and tiny ladybirds make you squeal with glee. And remind me that there's such beauty in the little things we're often too preoccupied to notice.
You are a sponge. You soak up the world and reflect it back in all its light and dark. You are learning the language of grief, even now at this tender age, having said goodbye to your great-grandfather and your beloved "kitty" over the last few months. And while it will be years before you truly understand, at night you look to the sky and you see them there in the stars. That's how you're making sense of love and loss. And oddly, it's helped me make sense of it, too.
You are comic relief. You ask me if "shit is just a sometimes word," and look puzzled as I clutch my stomach in a fit of laughter. You announce to your daycare teachers that I'm having a baby - which is breaking news for me. And you ask if my grandmother will get herself "a new old man," now that my grandfather is gone. You don't quite understand sarcasm yet, which is hilarious in itself. And you take everything literally. When I told you I'd turn the house upside down to find your lost bunny, you wondered why it was still upright when you returned home.
You are a window into the future. Your chubby cheeks have gone and you are all long-limbs and clear eyes. For the first time, I can see traces of the person you'll be when you're older; both physical and psychological. You know what you like (and don't like!) and you wear your cheeky personality with pride. Each day I understand more about the way your brain works - how you love learning new words, repeating them so you don't forget, and solving all sorts of problems.
I know you won't be around for much longer. You'll be replaced by five and all that five brings. For now though, I'll revel in this time - this beautiful, somewhere land between the dependence of babyhood and the independence of the years ahead. I love it here.