I was going to name this blog post "terrible twos, testing threes, ferocious fours!' but decided (after a good night's sleep) to call it "fantastic fours" because I have an amazing four year old... she can just be a little ferocious at times.
I had a conversation recently about 'fakebook' and only mentioning the good stuff about your kids so they end up looking like angels. And I do it on here. I talk about the wonderful days out we have had, how much fun we had and how cute the kids looked. I don't post the picture of the kids refusing to smile, or sitting under a tree on time out or the tantrums.
That is not how I want to remember my kids' childhood. But it's a part of growing up and it's real life.
Ex-pat life is teaching me so much about my personality and so much about the kids. There is nothing like being tested to show your true colours....
And I don't think Charlotte likes change.
Since we have been back from our recent home leave her behaviour when around other kids has been embarrassing.
I can spend the day on my own with the two of them and they are so easy and well behaved (once they have been fed) but go to a friend's house to play after school and there are tantrums, tears and down right selfishness.
We aim to be pretty strict parents and I think we are doing OK with discipline but recently she is acting like a spoilt brat.
And we have been guilty of spoiling her since the move. Buying toys as if to try to absolve ourselves of the guilt we felt, taking her away from everything and everyone she knew. And we feel that guilt all the time but especially after a home leave trip.
I am tired of explaining her behaviour by saying she is tired or hungry or 'unsettled'.
Maybe I should just say "she is a strong willed four year old who knows what she wants".
But I think she is a sensitive little soul who has lived in 3 houses in 3 years, has a Daddy with a job that takes him travelling round the globe and a Mummy who likes to go out for a run or to book club or bible study or out to dinner with friends in the evening.
I think she probably doesn't know if she is coming or going sometimes. Or more importantly if Jeremy and I are coming or going. I have learnt that she shows her anxiety in potty accidents, maybe as a way of attention seeking. And she throws tantrums when it is time to say goodbye to a friend or share a toy.
Does she have a fear of losing her things and saying goodbye because she doesn't know when she will see that friend again? We go back to England and she has the best time with friends and family but every day is a big goodbye. So it is understandable that when we return, her behaviour is trying.
She is a lot like me when I was a kid.
Our kids were never going to be quiet - just look at their parents!
So I am trying to be sympathetic but firm. Giving cuddles more often than reprimands. Trying to explain each day what the plan is so she knows where she is at. Trying to reward good behaviour but also introducing a box for confiscating toys when her behaviour is unacceptable.
We will see how it goes. Maybe we are being too harsh, maybe we have been too easy on her. I am sure you will all have an opinion and I am nervous about putting this out there, but this is part of our life at the moment and I am trying to find the right way to handle it. The best way to parent.
I bet we all feel like we make mistakes from time to time. Life is an adventure and you learn something new everyday.
She is so sweet in so many ways. Like lending Toby the framed photo of us she has in her room, because he misses his Daddy. Or 'buying' him a blue fish in the pretend shop at school because she knew he would like it. Or drawing pictures for her friends.
I just wish she could show that side when we are on play dates so they could see what a beautiful, loving, sensitive little soul she is.