When my older daughters were four we did not have the luxury of navel gazing to truly appreciate their wonderful humanity. Sure we revelled in their daily brilliance, discoveries and cuteness, but Finley and Avery both had little siblings to dilute part of their experience.
Our life was diaper blowouts, lost lovies, wet dishrags, infinite laundry and laughing to keep from crying. With our third and final child Declan being in the middle of his fourth year I've been ruminating on how really incredible four year olds are.
Here are four reasons why four year olds are peak human.
Default Mode is Happy
Like the frequent colds they acquire from their suspect hygiene practices, giggles are also contagious for four year olds. They don't understand war, taxes, poverty, genocide, politics or depression; they understand play. Play keeps them is a constant state of learning and therefore in a constant state of joy.
These fun junkies see the potential in all as a springboard for more smiles. A discarded pop bottle is a rocket ship, cherry juice is vampire blood, chasing a bubble dancing in the breeze is Valhalla. Their wonder is only limited by their stamina, which they are not afraid to squeeze every last drop from as they leave the park contented with having left it all on the field.
Take Their Time
While it can be maddening seeing our Declan meandering at the back of our pack, he is right not to hurry. Usually he has picked up a stick or leaf and mumbles to it as the sun or rain gently hits his face. He is studying, the shapes, the sound, the smells, the colours and the feels of things.
With our daily diet of satellite connected devices we forget to slow down and be present and get connected to the small miracles of existence. Four year olds treat this as a second nature. Although illiterate with books they have wisdom and full literacy on matters of the simple and divine. The sparkle in their eye and laugh is a potent reminder to enjoy the process more than the result, let the juice of life run down your chin and not care if it stains your shirt.
With the exception of leafy green vegetables and naps four year olds are pretty free from bias. They don't care about fashion brands, body image, and automobile hierarchy. From a homeless person to fancy businessman everyone is afforded the same level of compassion, understanding and love. They don't see differences or limits; they just see other kids and possibilities. They live utterly in the moment where labels serve no purpose.
With the exception of a few sociopaths in trainings, per capita the four year old population is incredibly kind, benevolent, and compassionate. Their antenna is highly tuned to pick up when an animal, or human is in some discomfort. They study faces and vibes and are expert in empathy. A four year old is love, pure uncut love.
While it's amazing to witness their growing independence, I can't help by be warmed by their dependence. I'll miss those long hugs with their skinned knee slightly bleeding into you newly pressed shirt as you rub their back tell them it will be OK. As Declan's brain complicates matters, this technique will become less and less effective.
When Declan has a bad dream and shows up bedside at four in the morning we gladly take him into the bed. We find comfort in our ability to comfort him. For that night we hide from the meanness, injustice and fear of the world. Under the warmth of the comforter Declan feels protected by the blanket of love that only Mum and Dad can provide and we feel warmed by the hope, joy, optimism and love that can only be provided by a four year old.