October 23, 2013

4-Year-Olds Rule. ~ Heather Grimes

My daughter is four today.

I am beginning to think that human beings peak at the age of four, and that perhaps it is all downhill from there.

They are genius-smart. Not exactly school-smart, but the kind of smart that comes from seeing the world without filters or hesitation.

They are ridiculously imaginative and don’t yet harbor the buzz-kill of doubt. The couch really is a space-shuttle-school-bus that is en route to the Eiffel Tower. And in the midst of play, it doesn’t take long for me to also see our well-warn maroon couch as something cosmic. (Unfettered belief is a powerful thing.)

But the fluidity of change keeps it fresh:

Me: Excuse me, I’d like some snacks on my space-shuttle-school-bus-ride to the Eiffel Tower, please.

Opal: Mom! It’s not a space shuttle any more! It’s a hotel for sick pot-bellied pigs!

Four-year-old communication is straight-shooting and blunt. A bit clunky and un-nuanced, to be sure, but all the adult webbing and self-consciousness can make finding the truth in a grown-up conversation like finding an earring in a tangle of bed sheets. Exhausting as it may be, I tend to prefer clunky and real. We deal with what there is to deal with and are on to the Clifford Board Game in the time it takes a grown-up to examine herself in the mirror, rehearsing how to come across as assertive but not bossy, clear but not demanding.

Four-year-olds come across as they are.

And for as many times as Opal has me face-planted in the couch cushion with mental fatigue or frustration, there are three times as many moments where she is downright, slap-your-thigh hi-lar-ious.

Hi Cleveland.  She says to our enormous, slightly dopey, Labrador. (Whose name, is in fact, Elvis.)  

Where on earth did you get that?  I say.

Later. How about a walk? I say.

Mommy, you’re a genius. She says.

Bringing a four-year-old into the grown-up world of due-diligence and technology addiction is nothing shy of medicinal.


—in honor of all the four-year-olds out there, and the parents who adore them (and are simultaneously baffled by them), I have compiled a few videos of amazing little four-year-old minds and souls. My, how they let their brilliance shine in a variety of ways.

(Watching these child prodigies do their thing is really no different than watching my daughter do her Opal-thing, while courageously peering from behind her eyes. As she gives hugs more readily than she did last month. As she treats her friends kindly, even when she is overtired. As she attempts to harmonize with me during a mother-daughter rendition of Pony Boy in the car.

It can all be lumped together as acts of brilliance and valor.)


Shaun Hern Lee plays the piano:

Konnor McClain dances her little tushy off:

Kaitlyn Mayer sings, by herself, up onstage in front of a bunch of people:

This mother and her four-year-old daughter create incredible art pieces:

This little boy, Jake, does a fine job depicting how four-year-olds truly are:


And to keep it real, (because though four-year-olds do rule, they can also be elaborate pains-in-the-ass):

Bill Cosby’s take on four-year-olds:


Keep it up, kiddos.

You’ll be the ones who sort out our country in 25 years.

You’ll be the poets and the parents and principals and the man at the post-office who offers a friendly gesture, like a treatment, to someone who needs it more than lunch.


Like elephant family on Facebook.

Ed: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Heather Grimes.}


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