Fucking Fours

Yes, I just used profanity on a blog that is primarily about my children. The Girl is four and she is a hellion in a dress. My mother calls her age/stage the fearsome fours, but my old neighbor, Debra, referred to them as the fucking fours. I think Debra’s description is more apt for The Boy’s four-year-old behavior and certainly describes The Girl’s behavior of late.

We were supposed to have a nice outing with our friend Jenna and her kids, going to the Green City Market for organic goodies and then strolling down to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to eat our lunch and explore the museum. But, as I should know by now, things often do not go according to plan.

And today I was that mom — the one screaming and sprinting down the sidewalk, totally out of control. I was the mom that other moms look at and sigh with relief that they are not, and their children are not mine.

I lost The Girl. Or more accurately, she ran away from me. And not just ran, she sprinted the full length of sidewalk from the south end of the Farm-in-the-Zoo to the U-shaped drive at the Cafe Brauer. The Tot and The Boy were walking, so we were paced much slower than she was. As I came around the curve along the farm fence with the boys, I called to her to stop. She turned, looked at me, and then ran along.

By the time I came to that curve, I could no longer see her — the path was crowded with kids-on-strings, strollers, and other groups coming south along the east side of Stockton Drive. I sent The Boy to run up to her, but when I came to the entrance of the Zoo farm and still saw him running, I really began to worry. By then, I had The Tot in the stroller and sprinted down the sidewalk. A man with a kids-on-string group asked me if the boy in the red jacket was mine. I said yes, but I was more concerned about the girl in the green sweatshirt. He dropped his backpack and sprinted north. He was running, I was running, The Boy was running, I was doing the mom-panic shriek and I could hear moms pushing strollers in the opposite direction ask what was wrong as I ran past them.

Finally, The Girl had stopped near the entrance to Cafe Brauer. I grabbed her, and yes, dear readers, I spanked her.* Then I took her wrist and we rejoined Jenna & her kids. We said sorry and good-bye, and The Girl screamed all the way back to the car: she could not walk, her feet hurt, she was tired, etc. Later, when we were sitting in traffic on Fullerton, I explained why I was upset with her, to which she replied that she “couldn’t hear” me and she just wanted to go to the nature museum.

* Despite using it twice in the past 7 days, I don’t consider spanking to be part of my parenting toolkit. Given how often we go on outings, I didn’t think it was necessary to remind The Girl to stay close to me. Clearly, I was wrong about that. What corrective action would you have taken if your child ran 2 blocks away from you?

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