As we approach Tommy's 4th birthday this month and the start of preschool in the fall, I have thought a lot about how much he has grown, particularly over the last year. For a while, I was worried that he was missing a few key things for preschool, but I'm starting to realize that I was wrong about that.
My 4 yr. old doesn't know the alphabet. Yes, he can sing the alphabet song over an over again (along with every song from his Veggie Tales CD and every TV show he watches), but when I would show him a letter and ask him what it was, he often told me that he didn't know. He has been able to spell his name (and recognize it when he sees it written) for several months now. After that, I thought things just stopped. Surprise! Mommy was wrong. The wheels are turning in that little head. The other night, he wanted to write in one of the birthday invitations (we had a few leftover). He got himself a marker and wrote T-O-M-M-Y. Then he looked up and asked "Mommy...what's my full name?" I proceeded to spell out our last name, one letter at a time. With each letter, he showed me in the air, how he was going to write it. There was only one letter that I had to help him out with. WOW! My little lefty can write!!
Is he ever going to use the potty? Tommy is a busybody. He doesn't want to stop playing to use the potty. And strangely, he didn't seem to mind wet pants. He has been able to go for quite some time now, but not willing. I read books, articles, etc on potty tips. I tried all sorts of reward systems. Those would only work for a couple of weeks and then he'd lose interest. Everyone said "It'll happen when he's ready." and "No one goes to college in diapers." That didn't help me. I was starting to feel embarassed that I had a nearly 4 your old who could not care less about the potty. Then it happened. I ran out of pull-ups. Oops! ;) He was faced with a decision...underwear, his sister's princess pull-ups, or go naked. (I have since been advised never to give my child the option of going naked.) Thankfully, he chose the underwear. It has been about 6 weeks now, and he is doing very well. Now, there's still some business that he won't do in the potty yet, but we have definitely taken a huge stride towards freedom from diapers!
My child doesn't play well with others. Despite having a sister to interact with daily and friends at daycare, I have been concerned about Tommy's social skills. On a recent trip to the zoo, he was in a play area with several other boys around his age. The boys were working together, trying to build a fort. Tommy didn't get this. He didn't seem to want to interact with the others, except for to tell them that he "...had it first. Give it back!" One of the mothers asked if he was an only child. At this point, I was terribly embarrassed to admit that he is not. This bugged me. The more I thought about it, the scientist in me developed a theory. He's been playing with the same group of friends for years now. They know his ways and they all have their way of dealing with him. Being in a home daycare, the turnover is not as high as in a daycare center. The influx of new kids on a fairly regular basis just isn't there. With this one, I did take matters into my own hands. On my day with the kids, we've been taking outings to crowded parks, beaches, spray parks, etc. (Really, this is good for all of us!) The first few trips were horrendous! He would throw fits in the park, cry, yell at other kids and tell them that they were bad because they weren't doing things his way. After a little coaching and many pep talks, Tommy is now doing really well. He scopes out the scene, finds some kids, asks if he can play with them, and even seems ok if they tell him no. Sooner or later, he finds a crowd to hang with and has a blast!
I am convinced. Tommy is ready for preschool!