Joseph, at four, is still firmly one of the little kids. He can feed himself, but prefers to be fed, needs his buttons done up, will wander down the stairs half dressed calling for someone to wipe his bum, and will only get ready for bed with direct supervision.
Such is the difference between your fourth and first child.
For Joseph's birthday this year we celebrated with persimmon cake and presents. One of the other downsides of being a fourth is the superabundance of toys filling the toy room. This is good most of the time - more toys to play with - but it translates into the bare minimum of toys received as gifts. If it weren't for my own fond memories of opening presents on my own birthday I wouldn't even give the children toys anymore.
But I'm not that mean so Joseph gleefully opened up a red toy truck from Brandon and me and a long wooden truck from his grandparents. The girls, caught up in the excitement of birthday and presents, made Joseph a cardboard box garage to park his trucks in. Joseph was delighted with everything and even ate some of his cake. Both trucks went to bed with him that night.
It's very strange to have all but one of my children over three years old, to have four children that can mostly function independently and sometimes do the things that I tell them to do. Our family is doing some serious thinking about growing up.
I'm grateful to have Joseph in our family; his constant cheerfulness and unfailing friendliness instantly endear him to just about everyone he meets (except his father who is driven nuts by all small children). He's always happy to give me a hug and kiss and likes to follow me around the house making strange observations in his chirpy little four year-old voice. I know that one day he will be all grown up and much taller than me. His chirpy voice will have dropped but he'll probably still make friends with just about everyone he meets. He will grow older and have four year-olds of his own that drive him just as crazy as he drove his own father. And I'll laugh and tell him stories from his own childhood.
But for now, he's still little and wants a bedtime story before wrapping his arms around my neck for a tight squeezy hug. I think I'll keep him.
Happy Birthday, Joseph!