Kimberly is going to be four soon. That’s about the age where I typically stop regarding a child as a “baby” and start thinking of them as a “kid.” This isn’t a scientific unit of measurement, but it’s been working fine till now.
Kimmie, however, is not matching up with my little yard stick, and it seems that she has no desire to.
It’s not that she’s not hitting milestones or that she’s incredibly short or anything like that. It’s that she’s pretty much convinced that she wants to be a baby forever.
For example, she pretty much flatly refuses to use the bathroom, preferring instead, to continue availing herself of pull-ups. This often has quite messy and sometimes disastrous consequences, of which she cares not.
On any given day, you will find her crawling around my house on all fours, instead of using the two legs the rest of the species has evolved to use.
She’s also got a particularly maddening habit of using “goo, goo, ga, ga” as a catch all phrase meaning everything from “I’m hungry” to “What’s the score on the Yankee game?”
In all honesty, most of this stuff wouldn’t bug me too much. Not even the whole potty training thing. You guys all know how I feel about letting my kids stay as young as they can for as long as they can.
The problem arises because Kimmie isn’t 100% on board with being a baby. There are parts of growing up that she’s really excited about, but these things don’t typically mesh with what’s going on right at this second.
The first example I can think of, off the top of my head, is that she wants to wear underwear. But she doesn’t want to use the bathroom.
She wants to go to school. She wants to read books by herself; she’s not so interested in me reading to her anymore, but she’s also not interested in learning the letters that make up the words that make up the books she is frustrated she can’t read.
She wants to play with Joey, and with Joey’s friends when she has some over, and she gets upset when they don’t want to play “baby” over and over again, while she goo-goos and ga-gas around their feet.
It’s not easy, living with this girl who is not sure if she’s ready to be a kid, or if she wants to step back to babyhood. And really, I get where she’s coming from. There are parts of growing up that are exciting and fun. And then, there are parts that look like they’re going to stink out loud.
I have decided that my job in all this is to reassure Kimmie, however I can, that the parts she’s looking forward to are, indeed, awesome. But the things that she’s nervous about might not be as bad as she thinks, or, indeed, may not happen at all.
It might take a long time, or I may end up surprised, with her “growing up” suddenly one day. But, one thing I know for sure, I’ve never seen a kid going off to college with pull-ups in her overnight bag. Well, unless there were some medical issue. Which I haven’t completely ruled out yet, either.
The point is, Kimmie is astoundingly smart, witty, and adventurous. She’s also growing up at her own pace, completely independent of my preconceived ideas of what four years old should look like. Rather than try to force her into the box that’s been in my head, I’m going to work hard on letting her do her independent thing. As long as I don’t have to follow her to school a couple times a day to change her pull-up.