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4-Year-Olds Are Magical Jerks

Photograph by Twenty20

Moms are often asked what their “favorite age of parenting” is, and while most will tell you what it isn’t—talking about you, terrible twos and threenagers—or wax poetic about the infant stage, there’s a misconception that there has to be a favorite.

I’ve been parenting for 14 (very long) years and each stage and age is completely different. Right now though, we’re in the trenches of a fournado (4-year-old tornado, for the uninitiated) and it’s both awesome and infuriating. I remember all the things I loved about this age with my oldest and even more of the things I’m not a fan of. He’s a mix of magic and wonder and also kind of a jerk.

It’s not the parents' fault. But I looked around and realized it’s not just my kid. It's just the age. After polling several other moms, we all came to the same conclusion: 4-year-olds are just magical jerks. There can be no other explanation.

Here’s why:

1. They know it all

Four is supposed to be something like a golden age, right? Kids are much more self-sufficient and even attend school, so your stage-5 clinger now has something to distract them from you for a few hours. Yay! But with that new-found independence also comes a new kind of attitude. They already KNOW you want them to get their shoes and finish their cereal. “C’mon mom, I finish Curious George first.” Pardon me, little sir?

2. "Why" is more than just a question

It is now a 45-minute explanation about how the world works and why you’re in charge and they are not. Seriously, dude? Why can’t I have this? Why is the sky blue? Why is the moon above me? "Why" is their default response to any instruction given, whether relevant or not. “Sit down so you can eat.” “But whyyyy mommy?”

3. Their curiosity is unmatched

Hence the “why” stage. But then they will describe in complete awe how and where some sea creature lives that they saw on "Wild Kratts" and you’ll be blown away with not only how well they’re describing it all, but the fact that they retained all of that information from DAYS ago... and yet, seemingly can’t remember where their shoes are. What the heck, kid?

4. They're basically Sour Patch Kids in real life

They’ll look you in the eye, so sweet, and then smooth kick you in the shin accidentally-on-purpose and dare you to react as you blink back tears. They will crawl in the bed and cuddle up to you in the morning only to tell you your breath smells and your eyes are so big and puffy like a beach ball. Awesome. Thanks for the compliment, dude.

They're masters of manipulation with their cute faces and bright eyes. Like the sweet (yet deceptive) threenagers before them, they provide so much entertainment. Suddenly their laughter is more sincere and they get the jokes (and sometimes tell the punchline before you do) and there's just a certain magic that surrounds them. The world is still very much full of wonder, but they also have BIG feelings that they will willfully divulge at an unnecessarily loud volume to whomever might be curious. I’ve heard many a child this age overshare while in the bathroom, and it never ceases to make me chuckle while simultaneously shaking my head.

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