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Alex is Four and a HALF

A bit over 13 hours ago, at 06:48 UTC (11:48 PM on the 13th Pacific, 2:48 AM on the 14th Eastern) Alex was exactly four and a half years old. No cake or presents happened, but congratulations none-the-less. I was planning to have this post go up at exactly that moment, but Alex “helped” me put together the traditional milestone interview, so that took a lot longer than expected and I couldn’t actually finish things up until today… without Alex over my shoulder and on my lap and on my head.

Speaking of the interview… it is 9 minutes long, I of course don’t really expect anybody but a few close relatives to watch, but hey, it is there. Alex was a lot less cooperative and a lot less expressive than he was in his interview when he was turning four. Last time he talked awhile about not wanting to turn four, not liking soccer, and some of the things he did enjoy. This time he mostly just refused to speak at all, climbed around, and got upset that we had to go to dinner instead of playing trains. Oh, and he thought it was very amusing to just answer questions by saying “Poo!”. When helping me edit the video later, he completely cracked himself up with that. It was hilarious… But there are a few interesting bits none the less. Watch it!

This is probably the last time I will mark a half-birthday like this. After age five, once a year is probably good enough. But here are a few things that have happened over the six months since the last one of these updates:

  • Alex still doesn’t like the notion of getting bigger.  He wants to stay small.  As a result, there are a number of things that we know quite well he can do for himself that he has been resisting and trying to make us do for him.  Unless we aren’t there, in which case he just does them himself quite happily.  There have been many examples, but one is putting on his shoes.  But just in the past couple weeks, he has started to flip on that one.  A couple days ago he actually INSISTED on doing his own shoes when we were about to do something, even though I was offering to help.
  • He’ll still occasionally ask to play Portal, but his obsession faded…  cause he had basically been through all the levels on both Portal and Portal 2 many times.  Many of them he could do himself without help.  In fact, after watching Amy and I (finally) start playing the multi-player Portal game, he decided that he wanted to play and be my partner instead of Amy.  A few minutes later he was on Amy’s laptop in the dining room, and I was on my computer in my office, and we were playing multi-player together.  We went through several levels successfully before we ran out of time.  And he was getting no help at all from Amy or Brandy, and was being a full participant with me, not just following my instructions, but exploring and giving suggestions on how to solve the puzzles, etc.
  • Instead, he has really been branching out on his iPad games.  Six months ago he was concentrating heavily on one or two train related games that he was obsessed with and would spend hours on.  (We do not subscribe to the folks who peddle paranoia about limiting screen time…)  Now he flips between dozens of different games of many different types.  Sure, train games are still a favorite, including the adult-targeted train simulator program he spent most of his time on before, but he has been spending lots of time with so called “educational” games targeted at pre-K and Kindergarten level kids.  Counting, letters, basic arithmetic, basic phonics and reading, etc.  For the most part he is learning and exploring these games without a lot of assistance.  He just figures them out.
  • As with games, he has been branching out on his TV and movie watching.  The old train related shows are still favorites, but he’s been watching a wider variety of things.  When we watch Jeopardy! as a family, he says “trains!” after every clue.  Someday he will be right!  I put on Ghostbusters after Harold Ramis died, and much to his own surprise Alex liked it. He’s also been into Mickey Mouse and Leap Frog stuff lately.  But watching TV, movies, and for that matter YouTube is a less frequent activity than it once was.
  • I mentioned six months ago that Alex was unhappy with school again after having finally gotten to a point where he liked it.  This was because he had been left behind with the younger kids when he should have been pushed forward to pre-K.  Six months ago, I mentioned that we had just gotten that fixed.  Nope.  For all kinds of details about the whole mess that happened, listen to the November 12th Curmudgeon’s Corner.  The part about Alex’s school issues starts about 12 minutes into the show.  Long story short, Alex got screwed badly by his old school, and they were not forthcoming with us about the issues.  The “final straw” hit in November and we switched him to a new school.
  • The new school is Montessori based. When we finished at the new school in November Alex was absolutely hating school, fighting and crying every day about not wanting to go, and he would never tell us anything about things he did at school, when asked it was just “nothing”.  Alex still won’t ADMIT that he likes school, but almost immediately the difference was night and day.  The new school is close enough to walk in good weather, so when time and weather allows, we often walk to school, or he rides in a wagon. Alex really likes that. And he usually doesn’t fight going to school and enters happily.  And he brings all kinds of work home from school, and tells us about what he is doing and learning.  He generally seems to like school and is making up for the last few months that were lost at the old school.
  • He still is collecting more and more trains.  He still plays with them every day.  It is his favorite activity.  Building layouts.  Acting out stories with the trains on the layouts.  Assembling trains of various sorts… all one color, all freight, all passenger, all one brand…  If there is a choice of something train related vs something not train related, the trains usually win.  But not always, other types of vehicles, cars, planes, etc are runners up…  and every once in a long while something else, like a stuffed animal, gets extensive attention.  And a couple weeks ago Alex found a jar full of ear plugs (bought by me so I could stand going to the occasional concert with the rest of the family that actually likes loud music)…  and well…  Alex decided the ear plugs were his babies, and started giving them baths and such.  I may have to buy a new set the next time a concert happens. :-)
  • In December, when I suggested that perhaps a ghost had knocked over one of his trains, Alex said: “Daddy, don’t be silly, there are no ghosts on this Earth!”.  But then, somehow, since then, whenever somehow there is a toilet that has not been flushed and I ask Alex about it, he says the ghost is the one using the bathroom without flushing.  Hmmmm…
  • One Saturday night when I was heading to bed, Alex came to me and said, “Daddy, do NOT set your alarm. I will cock a doodle do for you in the morning.”  I told him, Ok, I wouldn’t set my alarm.  In the morning, about 7:15 AM, right about sunrise, I woke first to the sound of a light shuffle from the hallway, then the bedroom door opening, then loudly “COCK A DOODLE DOO!!!!”  When I didn’t immediately respond, every 10 seconds or so the call would repeat, each time a little closer, until on the fourth or fifth time it was right by my head. I then told Alex “But I wasn’t quite ready to wake up yet.”  So he crawled in bed next to me and pulled the covers up over himself and cuddled up and went back to sleep. About 20-30 minutes later he got up and cock a doodled again, and this time insisted that I had to get up and play with him. :-)
  • One time while I was at work late, Brandy texted me that Alex said: “Daddy’s not here, Doggy. So you don’t get a walk today” as he was happily overfeeding the dog. (Alex and I are usually the dog walkers, but Alex doesn’t go without me.)
  • Shortly after he turned four, with my birthday approaching, Alex asked if on my birthday I would be 12. I said no, 42. He asked if that meant my head would touch the ceiling. I said I didn’t think so.
  • An few bits from him one day while trying to get out of going to school: “You are not being smart, so you will not be a star. You are not winning. You need to listen!” “Not school day!  Me took that day away!  Now you not be able to get that day again!” “You are not listening so you are being stupid!  Only me am going to be a star!”

That’s enough for this time, although as usual there could be so much more if I think about it.  He is getting so big and independent at this point.  Amazing how fast things happen.

Of course, at the same time, Amy is now in college and is actually employed part time at this point.  Don’t know how that happened either!

They just keep growing up!

@abulsme tweets from 2014-03-13 (UTC)