Honestly, there was screaming and gnashing of teeth for well over twenty minutes, because her brother had opened the flavoured straw she was holding. There was another, identical, unopened straw right next to her on the bench. It was, apparently, not an adequate substitute. When the screaming had finally abated, she reluctantly suffered through the identical straw and announced she was coming to belly dancing with me. She was still in her pyjamas and I had to leave in 4 minutes. Again with the totally rational requests.
To her credit, she hustled and got dressed quickly and we only left ten minutes late. I love belly dancing, and I'd love to share that with Elissa. I tried to take her to some lessons last year, but the study made making it to classes impossible. She was very keen to go back this year, but my teacher didn't seem as relaxed about the idea as last year's teacher had been. So I was feeling more than slightly nervous, bringing my recently screaming banshee of a daughter into the class of a woman who was concerned she might disrupt the rest of the class. However, as 4 year olds are wont to do, she was the picture of delight. She did the stretching exercises with us, played with her toys a bit, and then danced her own dance in the corner until it was time to take off the coin belts. Nobody seemed perturbed, and she got lots of compliments. The relief was palpable. My day was looking up.
Then we got back to the car park and I remembered the enormous huntsman I'd seen dart inside the front passenger door frame as we'd rushed to make the class on time. Have I mentioned I'm hopelessly arachnophobic? I have been known to call friends to my house to rescue me from spiders at 6am on a Saturday (eternal thanks Cate!). I'm very proud to say that I bought a can of spray from the chemist and dealt with the 8 legged horror (and many of his variably sized compatriots in other hidey holes in the car) on my own. Of course, this last part of the story has nothing to do with the point of this post - the best and worst of 4 year olds, but I felt the need to share.
I kinda like four. The extremes are exhausting, but amusing too. Watching the bourgeoning capacity for logic, while weathering the episodes of total logic fail. Seeing the desire for independence translate into a real reduction in work for parents weary from a whole year of three. To quote Olivia's mother, Elissa, you really wear me out, but I love you anyway.