It's almost 10:30pm. Finally, finally, Gavin is asleep . . . in my bed. The poor bugger just could not fall asleep tonight (probably because today was the first time in weeks that he's actually taken a nap). Sometimes, the Battle of the Going to Bed can be frustrating. Okay, it's often frustrating. But, tonight, as Gavin came out of his room for the tenth time for "one more hug" and "one more drink of water," I reminded myself of something that I've had to remind myself of a lot lately:
He's only 4.
He's only 4 years old.
I forget that often. Compared to Kaleb, he's so big. He's so self-reliant. He seems so much older compared to Kaleb. He's all legs and scrapes and bruises-that-barely-fit-in-my-lap-anymore. His legs hang down to my knees when I carry him. He can buckle the seatbelt in the car by himself. He opens his own juice boxes without spilling them everywhere.
But, he's only 4.
He's only 4, and sometimes I forget that he needs a lot of love and attention, too. He needs time to snuggle on my lap. He needs me to build forts with him under the kitchen table and make up silly songs. He needs me to kiss his imaginary boo-boos. He needs me to watch him do "something awesome" five hundred and seventy-two times in a day.
He's only 4, but he seems so much older. I'm not sure if it's because he can carry on pretty advanced conversations, but I look at him daily, and I think, "He's only 4."
He's only 4, and he still needs a lot of affection. He needs a lot of slack. He needs silliness. Sure, he can dress himself, put his laundry away, brush his own teeth, make his own bed, get his own breakfast, and even make his own hot cocoa. But, he's only 4, and, more often than not, what he probably needs is for his mommy to do that for him. Because, he's not going to be 4 forever.
He's only 4, and, sure, he needs to learn good behavior, but he also needs a little grace and understanding. It's hard to be 4, I'm sure. It's hard to have feelings and not know how to accurately express them. It's hard to pay attention when there are more awesome things to focus on like toys and cartoons and hey-look-at-that-airplane-in-the-sky.
He's only 4, and he doesn't understand all of the adult things that go on in this world, but somehow he's expected to. And, he shouldn't be. He shouldn't be expected to understand anything other than vegetables and milk will help you grow and if you leave your toys on the floor you're eventually going to step on them and hurt yourself.
He's only 4, and he should be allowed to cry, and rather than telling him to stop, he should be comforted. A lot.
He's only 4, and sometimes it's okay if he needs to lie in my bed until he falls asleep.
He's only 4, and sometimes he needs five more hugs and three more kisses and one more song and two more stories before he can go to sleep.
He's only 4, and while I don't need to baby him, I need to remember how young, fragile, and needy he is.
So, for tonight, he gets to fall asleep in my bed. And, as I sit here and watch him drool all over my pillow, I think about how heavy he's going to be when I carry him to his own bed in a few minutes. But, he'll never be this light, or this young, again.
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