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After a really pleasant summer, where Arlo was …really pleasant and just seemed to be enjoying life’s simplicities, we are back to non-stop moaning that leaves me questioning whether he does, actually, enjoy his life in general.

I wish I were exaggerating, but sadly, I am not. When I say non-stop, he’s constantly searching for something to moan about. When he doesn’t have anything to moan about, he moans about not having anything to moan about. I pick him up from preschool, I watch his demeanour change and the moans start as soon as he sees me. I thought four year olds were meant to be maxing out on the fun, but it seems the whinge button is jammed on ours. It’s so very hard to deal with day in day out on an hourly basis. Ignoring him riles him up, so I am constantly engaged in a conversation/battle with him, and that is exhausting too. A lot of the time, I feel like there is a really thin line between sanity and something else. And on top of that, I feel a sadness that he can’t just enjoy himself without at least an hour of moaning first, no matter the situation. He has always been a challenging one, our Arlo.

The negative out of the way, it’s not all bad. Arlo is such a smart talker, he makes me laugh on a daily basis. He is a proper fun person to chat with (when he’s in a good mood), and in the last half a year I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said to Sam that I’m really enjoying spending time with Arlo, more than ever before. When he’s not relentlessly moaning, he is just brilliant and I feel I could gush about him forever.

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His levels of pedantry, or just flat out needing to stick to the facts, have reached an all time high. The most recent example of this was his confusion at his birthday party, whenever someone said happy birthday to him. “People keep thinking it’s my birthday today. But they are wrong. It’s not my birthday”.

Arlo has always been a great talker, and I enjoy the insights into his mind now that he is fully able to explain them. According to Arlo, Neighbours is a real place where we can travel on a plane and demand the characters to explain important plot holes (he’s really adamant that he MUST do this, he needs answers), but when asked if he’d like to do the Swashbuckle assault cause, my question was met with very furrowed brows and the explanation that “the clouds are flat (2D), [therefore] it’s not a real place that we can visit”.

Arlo’s little obsessions continue. We’ve just moved on from dinosaurs to architecture. He is hugely interested in cities, interesting landmarks, and, mainly, tall buildings. Arlo LOVES the Shard, I actually have a whole separate post about that that I need to write soon.

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Although he gets frustrated that Rory always messes up his games, he continues to adore his little brother and is always genuinely delighted when Rory chooses to come and give Arlo a cuddle.

Arlo is still very routine-obsessed and everything continues to centre around food times, as I wrote about half a year ago. It’s another factor that, to me, seems to have a negative effect on his overall enjoyment of a day, and something I really wish he hadn’t decided to become so focussed on. If we are elsewhere during his usual snack time, he will fixate on that and refuse to drop it and go play until he has had his appointed snack. He recently spent the entire duration of a child’s birthday party refusing to do anything, because it was snack time. After the food was served, THEN he was ready to play, but of course by that point it was time to leave, so then I had another battle to deal with. It’s this sort of stuff that can be exhausting and disheartening to deal with on a daily basis.

Arlo turning four means it’s been over two years since he happily ate anything resembling a balanced meal. His diet is distinctly beige – bread, potatoes, pasta (all plain, no sauces), cheese, peanut butter and chocolate. He won’t touch fruit or veg. I’ve tried sneaking hidden veg into his meals, but he always gags straight away. Preschool have also been trying very hard with him, but after a year, they have now reached a point where they think it’s not a good idea to push him. Which is sort of the conclusion we have drawn too. We eat family meals, we make sure he knows he can help himself to anything on the table, we encourage and incentivise him to eat fruit and veg, but we don’t force it upon him.

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On the evening before his birthday, he suddenly burst into tears at the impending change in age. He thought he was going to grow massively overnight, and would be leaving preschool to start school straight away. He really is a bit of a worrier by nature, and I felt awful that he’d been storing up these anxieties ,without me picking up on it, until it reached boiling point. He was adamant that he didn’t want a birthday or any presents or cake, but the next morning, after some reassurance (“But am I REALLY four now, mama? I don’t look any bigger”), he was back to being excited again. This birthday wobble was a reminder that sometimes we need to tread carefully when the urge is to ramp up the excitement – Arlo certainly prefers a no-big-deal approach.

I’ve ended up making this more of a vent about some of the specific challenges we face at the moment, rather than it being a pure celebration of Arlo at four years old. The good things about Arlo at four years old far outweigh the challenging things, but it is the challenging factors that tend to occupy my brainspace.

He is so smart, his mind is so sharp, and I am so proud of him for the individual, funny, and engaged person that he is.

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He didn’t want to do a birthday photoshoot this year, so I didn’t push him. 

11 comments

  1. I love that he wants to go and ask the Neighbours characters to explain their plot holes, that’s brilliant! I hope he had a very happy birthday after the initial wobbles too 🙂

    1. He had a great birthday in the end, and I’m so pleased he got over his worries because it was lovely to watch him being excited (he was poorly last Christmas day, and his excitement then was all a bit of a wash out so I was really hoping his birthday would be different).

  2. Oh to be 4 again! It’s such a complex age, so many changes and learning so much – aside from his moaning he sounds like such a character, I imagine him to talk and laugh all the time. The Shard photos are fantastic! x

    1. Ah, that’s one thing I forgot to mention. He DOES. NOT. STOP. TALKING. Whenever he’s quiet, which is very rare, I wonder if something’s wrong! We get so many comments from strangers on the train, etc, about him being a chatterbox. “My son was exactly the same, never stopped talking until he fell asleep” etc. Might have to edit the post to add this in!

  3. Oh my god I thought it was just Cherry who constantly moaned and complained!! Some days I just want to scream as she will moan and cry at every single little thing from morning till night. I do honestly think she hates life sometimes. Then she will burst out of it and be fine, usually just before bed! x

    1. Arlo’s happiest time is just before bed too. Funny that. I always joke that it’s because he doesn’t want to be sent to bed, haha. I think you’d written something on instagram recently that made me think Cherry sounds quite a bit like Arlo in the moany sense.

  4. It is so good to read other people’s experiences of parenthood as I think everyone has different challenges. Arlo sounds like a highly intelligent boy who knows his own mind. He sounds like an engineer in the making, ready to solve complex problems and things in life that don’t work properly. (like Neighbours plots)

    1. I think you are right, he is definitely very interested in problem-solving, and I could imagine him in that sort of role later in life. And yes, everyone has different challenges with their parenting, I find it nice to read others’ experiences too.

  5. Chloe, I had to comment on this because I really enjoyed reading it. I love how you have been honest and not sugarcoated him or your parenting at this stage. It is so easy to do that but it is so important to be honest and they are hard work at times. Mads doesn’t moan but she does have days of whining and also not listening, that and the fact she still also entirely eats beige food is what is most frustrating at the moment. We seem to have good and bad stages with her, at the moment we are in a good few weeks where she is for the most part a delight. But it can all to soon go back into a challenging one again. x

    1. It is really easy to sugercoat, and I started to do that, but got frustrated with that original draft as it didn’t feel like a balanced representation of life with Arlo at the moment.

  6. Dylan seems to be getting whingier by the day, I keep blaming it on tiredness and preschool but we do have days when most sentences start with ‘I don’t like . . . ‘ I think it is so sweet that Arlo thought he would grow overnight! x

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