Caelan Vaughn, 4 Years

Somehow, we blinked and Caelan turned into a kid. He looks older. He acts older. We need to be careful what we say around him now because he is always listening! In the past couple months, we’ve tried to help him navigate some new social situations. He’s developed new friendships and been on all sides of the hurt feelings wheel (hurter, hurtee, witness). We are wandering into new territory where Caelan has more control over a lot of situations than we do. Parenting is hard, man! I want Caelan to be happy and have friends that he enjoys playing with. I also want him to be kind and compassionate, which he generally is, but 4 year olds have no filter and sometimes that leads to drama.

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Caelan seems to be friendly with all of his classmates, but Joshua and Julia are the two that we’ve heard the most about in the last 6 months. Who is best friends with who changes on an almost daily basis, but it definitely seems like he’s having a good time at school!

We met with Caelan’s teacher back in April and discussed his progress in her class. We are so unbelievably proud of how well he’s doing! Academically, he’s well ahead. His teacher even said it’s a shame he’s so young because he’d do well in kindergarten THIS year. He knows all of his letters and can write most of them as well. We are working on sounding out words and that is exceedingly frustrating for Bill and me but Caelan is making progress. He can count past 100 now and he can also do some basic addition and subtraction. I was happy to hear from his teacher that Caelan actively participates in class and seems interested in learning. It is always fun for us to hear about what he’s learned that day, whether it’s a silly song or that “zombie” starts with the letter Z.

This Fall, Caelan will move to the pre-K (4’s) classroom for his last year of preschool before kindergarten (!!!!). We’ve heard that the pre-K teacher has a less traditional style of teaching so we’re curious to see how Caelan does in her class.

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Caelan’s handwriting has gotten much better, but some of his letters need a little tweaking!

In May, Caelan’s class took a field trip to a local farm/petting zoo. I was very excited that I was able to go with him on this trip – it was my first time accompanying him on a field trip. It was great to spend some one-on-one time with him, see him with his friends, and get to spend some time with his teachers and a couple of the other moms and dads.

Jumping around here a little (6 months is a long time to cover!) but back in February, we took Caelan to his first live sporting event – a pro hockey game. It was also Bill’s and my first hockey game! We rode the Metro (another first for Caelan) to get to the stadium and watched the game from a suite that Bill’s company had rented. It was the perfect situation for Caelan’s first event. The suite allowed him to get up and walk around, rather than sitting in the seat the entire time, although he did sit and watch quite a bit. He loved chanting “Let’s go Caps!” and hearing the songs and sounds over the sound system.

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Caelan has continued with his gymnastics class once a week. He’s really improved a lot in the past 6 months. Classes stop over the summer so we’ll think about whether or not to continue with gymnastics in the Fall or try another activity. At home, Caelan loves to play outside now that the weather is warm. He helps us with gardening and he rides with Bill on the tractor. Now that we have so much more yard space than we did at the townhouse, the kids have plenty of room to play. Luckily, our road is a dead end and gets very little traffic, but we spent last Fall drilling it into Caelan that he cannot run into the street. By now, he’s very good at following that rule. We don’t let him play outside unsupervised but we don’t need to hover over him and that is wonderful for all 🙂

Watering the garden.

We went to see the Easter Bunny this year, and to my surprise, Caelan didn’t seem afraid at all! Our first 2 attempts to sit on Santa’s lap were failures, but after this success with the bunny, I’m looking forward to another Santa visit this Christmas.

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After spending 2 years in size 18 month pants/shorts, Caelan finally had a growth spurt and grew out of those this year. I got him some 2T pants, but he almost immediately outgrew those as well! Now he’s in 3T for pants, but in 4T/5T for shirts. It’s tricky to dress this kid!

Caelan and Leah are still great playmates, but as Leah gets older and more able to assert herself, there are more arguments. However, Caelan regularly tells me “Mommy, I really really really really really really  really really really really really really love Leah! She’s sooooooooooooooooo cute!” I know he loves her and the feeling is definitely mutual but they are brother and sister so fights are inevitable. Caelan has started trying to manipulate her by whispering to her and telling her to do something that he knows will get her in trouble. On the one hand, I get it. I used to do the same thing to my sister (sorry Ray!). But on the other hand…quit telling her to run in the street! Luckily I have been able to squash any dangerous suggestions so far.

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Caelan is very independent now and he can dress and undress himself with minimal help (buttons, snaps). He can brush his teeth, go to the bathroom, wash his hands, get a drink from the fridge, clear his place at the table, go up and down the stairs, etc. It’s wonderful that he can do all those things by himself and doesn’t need our constant supervision anymore. In some ways, that makes him, as a 4 year old, much easier than a toddler. But all of those things he CAN do without supervision are also all the things that tend to cause fights and tantrums. He CAN put his shoes on in less than 30 seconds if he feels like it, but it normally takes 5 minutes or so of rounding him up, counting to 3, pushing past the “I-can’t-do-it” whining and other such craziness.

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Caelan has been favoring me over Bill a fair amount lately. It’s odd because for the first 2-3 years of his life, he definitely favored Bill. But now, possibly he’s identified me as the less strict parent and that’s the reason for his preference lately. He and Bill have definitely been butting heads a lot lately. I hope it’s a phase and it will shift soon.

Why have they been butting heads? They don’t call it the horrible 3’s for nothing. See my comments above about putting on shoes. And it’s not just Bill and Caelan – I have plenty of run-ins with the 3/4 year old behavior as well. This whole year has been REALLY hard on that front. Everything is a fight – dinner (he claims to hate whatever we’re eating, even if he likes it, then argues with us over how many bites to eat), the bathroom (he will literally sob and wail “But I don’t have to pee!!” while peeing), putting on his shoes, brushing his teeth, getting ready for bed…He fights us every single step of the way. We have tried various tactics and some have worked better than others but we haven’t settled into anything consistent (I know we should). I know it’s all developmentally appropriate, but it’s exhausting. He’s also had more potty accidents than ever before, despite having been potty-trained for over a year now. It’s usually due to stubbornly waiting till the last second. We’ve heard from some other parents that 4 is slightly better behavior-wise, so I’m holding on to that shred of hope.

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I’ve commiserated a lot with my friends who have kids the same age. They get it. I’m pretty sure I’ve scared my sister-in-law because my nephew is only 11 months and hasn’t hit the screamy-2’s or the defiant-3’s yet and she doesn’t want to lose her sweet baby to those phases. But she won’t, not completely. Sure, Leah is an expert screamer now, but then she climbs up in my lap, puts her face inches from mine, cocks her head to the side and sweetly asks “popcorn pwees?” and then she is the cutest child that ever existed. Or Caelan will say something that is so funny or clever or full of personality and I am in awe of how sweet and smart he is and how much I love him completely even though I was ready to lose my #$%^ 3 seconds ago. It’s a constant up and down, back and forth…love them, lose it, love them, lose it.

At the end of the day, I sit on the floor in Caelan’s room next to his bed and we play rock-paper-scissors for a few minutes and then talk about what we did that day or what we will do the next day. It’s one of my favorite parts of everyday. I am constantly in awe of his curiosity and his imagination. He makes up stories and names and draws on conversations we’ve had or things he’s learned at school to create his little world. As always, I’m excited for what’s ahead for him – new friendships, moving more and more towards being a kid and not a baby. This time next year, we’ll be registering him for kindergarten 😮 It’s so hard to believe that he’s been in our life for 4 wonderful years now!! I can’t imagine our world without him.

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Happy 4th Birthday Caelan!! Love you forever and ever!!

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Caelan’s 4 Year Stats

  • Wearing 4T and 5T tops, 3T pants, size 9W shoes
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • Height: 39.5 inches (3′ 3.5″)
  • Loves playing Cars, racing, listening to music, climbing, running
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