I have three sons aged from high school to preschool, so I feel at least a little qualified to be commenting on the wonder of the four-year-old.
Emerging from the threes a little battered and more than a bit worn, I didn't expect much to change once my youngest blew out those four candles on his cake. But a lot has changed, and I'm loving every second. Here's why.
1. The toddler wonderment remains, while conversation is more interesting
A conversation with a four-year-old is a wonderful thing. Just yesterday he made an adorable plea for 'circle moneys' for one of those dreaded rides in a shopping centre (I never say yes) and in the next hour was talking about bird shapes he could see in the clouds.
They retain their wonder of the world and have the cutest still-a-toddler moments, all while being able to have more sophisticated conversations. They're also more likely to get a joke, making them a ton of mirthful fun.
2. They master some key skills, making them much happier little people
The twos and threes can be punctuated with daily meltdowns, largely to do with frustration around not being able to do certain things. Whether it's being able to build a Lego set by following the instructions for the first time, finally understanding the rules of a game, or mastering more difficult puzzles, four is an enormously rewarding time for both them and you. Chances are you have a happier little person on your hands these days.
3. They don't seem so hell bent on their own demise
Across three boys, I estimate I have been saving the lives of at least one of them for about nine years. This really seems to ease at about age four. Yes, they still need supervision, yes, they can still be unpredictable, but it's things like holding my hand near roads he no longer battles, being more aware of things around him, and generally not running off at each and every opportunity.
I feel like there's been a shift in 24/7 damage control and it's more like I've got a little pal.
4. Fussiness can decrease, or increase
Four seems to open up a new world for children. The one who wouldn't eat anything green at age three is finally eating her broccoli, or the kid who hated dress-ups suddenly loves a Batman costume.
It's also the time when many kids want to dress themselves and that can lead to some battles, but also some hilarious get ups. Trust me, you'll relish the photos of those outlandish and unlikely outfits in the years to come, and the best thing is that it's a sign of their blossoming independence.
5. They still adore you to the moon and back
Despite their increasing need for independence, they are still your baby, and they still think you are the best thing since sliced bread. Those adorable smooches, early morning hugs as they wake from slumber, and their joy at just being with you is the most priceless thing in the world.
And with all this, there's an aside I'd like to make. I recognise not all four-year-olds exhibit these traits. Kids with special needs and illnesses and those who aren't hitting certain milestones yet all have their own very unique and special ways of being four. We love them all - four-year-olds are amazing, whomever they may be and whatever challenges they are facing.