Charlie turned 4 last December, and I’m just getting around to writing his yearly update now! But I guess this is actually a good time to write this update because we have 5 months of the 4′s behind us… and let me tell you that it has been fabulous compared to the threenager 3′s!

It was so much fun to look back at his 3 year update and see how much he’s grown and changed since then. This is what Charlie’s threes and half of his fours have been like!

S C H O O L

The biggest milestone in Charlie’s life was starting public pre-k last fall. I was a little worried about him because he was only 3 3/4 years old since he has a December birthday. It was also a huge transition for him to go from a small, full-time daycare that he absolutely adored to public school and an after school program. It took months for him to transition and we dealt with a lot of behavioral problems because so many things happened at once – he started school, he dropped his nap shortly after starting school, and we moved (we used to live a couple houses down from his best friend).

Charlie has been completely settled in for a while and loves school, his teachers, and his friends. We’ve been very happy with the pre-k program, and he’s learned so much! The only thing I’m not so sure about is the amount of homework he receives. It’s usually 4 pages a week and a big project over every break (that I always have to do). I just think… let them be little. I don’t think they really need homework at this age. But that’s just the way it is — his teachers don’t like it but they say it’s mandatory. My friend’s son in kindergarten gets 3o minutes of homework every night, so I guess that’s what we have to look forward to in the fall!

We’ve had two parent-teacher conferences so far and have been pleasantly surprised with what they have to say about Charlie because he sometimes struggles with listening. We’ve gotten a few daily reports sent home with sad faces. It’s definitely gotten better as he’s acclimated to school, and we’re told that it’s an average level of not listening compared to the other kids. I think it’s just hard for 4 year old little boys to sit in their seats all day!

Charlie’s teachers have told us that he is inquisitive, bright, and has an innate love of learning. They suggested that we have him take the gifted and talented test, and he did this past January. We were worried that he might not get into our zoned school (we recently moved to be in a better school district), so we had him take the test as a backup. He did very well, but it turned out not to matter because luckily he got into our zoned school! He’ll be enrolling in a new school for kindergarten and I do feel a little sad because it was such a bumpy transition this past year and Charlie has made so many friends. But I’m also excited and feel very fortunate that he’ll be attending an excellent public school where I’m hopeful Charlie will thrive.

S L E E P

Sleep was rocky throughout Charlie’s 3′s. He just wasn’t tired at bedtime anymore, and for a long time he was going to bed at 10:30pm! At the time we thought it was because he was ready to drop his nap, but we’ve since realized that it was probably because he wasn’t getting enough stimulation, both mentally and physically, at his daycare. He was one of the two oldest kids there when all his classmates from the previous year moved onto preschools. But it just made sense for us to keep him there because Olive was there as well, so he could help her make the transition to daycare.

Shortly after Charlie started public pre-k in September, he went from napping 3 hours to dropping it completely. He was exhausted at bedtime and would fall asleep during story time before bed! But his body eventually adjusted and once he was used to not napping anymore, he stopped doing it on the weekends too just before his fourth birthday. At first it was tough because he napped at the same time as Olive and it gave us a great mid-day break. But it also meant that he was going to bed by 7:30 instead of 10:30!

The bedtime battles of the 2′s and 3′s are hopefully a thing of the past. Because Charlie is much more tired at night without a nap, he usually goes to bed without a fuss. He typically gets 11 hours of sleep at night, but 12 hours would probably be the perfect amount for him. We can see a big difference in his behavior when he hasn’t gotten enough sleep. Lately he’s actually been taking one nap on Saturday again, and he really needs that little bit of extra sleep.

B E H A V I O R

Oh the 3′s were the most challenging year of Charlie’s life. The 2′s were pretty easy, but once Charlie turned 3, it was like a switch flipped. The highs were higher — he was so curious about everything, he was a sponge that learned so much, he was so affectionate and loving. But the lows… oh the lows were so low — nuclear tantrums over things that made even less sense than tantrums during his 2′s (see 46 Reasons Why My 3 Year Old Might Be Freaking Out), saying hurtful things, not listening to us, general defiance… It is much harder not to lose your patience with a child who understands everything you say. The 3′s were so trying!

I’m happy to report that since turning 4, Charlie has been much, much, much, much better! The nuclear tantrums are completely gone. Sure he still melts down once in a while, but they’re usually mini tantrums that he recovers from pretty quickly. And though he still struggles with it at times, he is doing a much better job of listening.

I think what worked best for us was establishing a very secure bond with Charlie. For instance he was extremely bonded to Mr. Bee, but much less so to me because I was still nursing Olive. His behavior was usually much, much worse towards me. But when I weaned Olive last December, Mr. Bee started putting Olive down and I started putting Charlie down at bedtime. Charlie had such a strong bond with Mr. Bee that I thought it was impenetrable! Slowly but surely we became closer and closer and now Charlie and I are besties. It is amazing how much more patience I have with him (and vice versa). The bedtime routine is such a bonding experience, Olive who was firmly in Team Mommy is definitely switching to Team Daddy!

G R O W T H

At his 4 year checkup, Charlie’s stats were:

Weight – 31.4 lbs (11%)
Height – 36.5 inches (3%)

He’s a small kid and will probably always be one of the smallest — if not the smallest — kids in his class. He has already endured some teasing, and as each year passes the height gap grows. Some of his friends look 2 years older than him… some have even lost teeth at the age of 4!

People regularly ask us if Charlie and Olive are twins, especially when they’re sitting because they look like they’re the same height. Olive is also on the taller side while Charlie is on the short side, so their height gap is closing fast… she may be taller than him next year! But what Charlie lacks in height, he makes up for in spunk. He can be shy at first in new situations, but overall he has a big personality and his teachers tell us that he doesn’t stop talking.

Unfortunately he has never been a big eater and most meals are still a struggle. The only thing he will eat consistently are olives (one of the reasons we named his sister Olive!). One of his classmate’s moms told me that her older son was the same way, but magically at 6 he became an eating machine because he was growing so much. Hopefully that’ll be the case with Charlie too. I do worry about him being the smallest kid in his classes because I was often the smallest and endured my fair share of teasing.

I N T E R E S T S

When Charlie turned 3, the superhero gene that all boys have (seriously it’s a thing!) kicked in. We never even introduced any superheroes to him. He saw a picture of the Hulk in an issue of Entertainment Weekly and became instantly obsessed. His superhero obsession is full blown now at 4, and he loves to play with his action figures and dress up as his favorite superheroes like all of his boy friends. It’s interesting because he has lots of girl friends and they’re all into princesses and baby dolls and couldn’t care less about superheroes.

But perhaps even more than superheroes, Charlie loves arts and crafts. He draws every day and also loves making crafts of all kinds. It’s been awesome for independent play because he can keep himself occupied for hours. The first thing he does when he gets home from school is head straight to his art supplies (not his superheroes!), and start drawing. I really hope to foster this innate interest!


Charlie drew this and I later found that he had taped it to the wall next to my bed as a surprise.

Charlie also loves space, dinosaurs, riding his bike, jumping waves at the beach (he’s fearless!), dance parties, sumo wrestling, and he has always loved reading. We read everything from chapter books to comic books to nonfiction books. I often think about how different my upbringing was because my parents never read to me. Nowadays kids are exposed to so much more, but I guess there are higher expectations of them as well.

F R I E N D S

As Charlie gets older, he is all about his friends. Recently we were hanging out with two of his friends and Charlie split his last gummi bear in half and gave each half to a friend. It was so sweet because he loves gummi bears! He loves hanging out with his friends so much that I use them as a bribe to get him to nap every Saturday. We have a standing dinner playdate with friends every Saturday, and I tell Charlie that he has to nap if he wants to go… and he always does!

During his 3′s I could see Charlie forming real friendships. Even if we hadn’t seen someone in months, it was like no time has passed when Charlie saw them again. And if we haven’t seen a particular friend in a while, he always asks me to set up a play date. Just another sign that he’s really growing up into his own little person.

Charlie has a couple of friends at school that are really rough. When he’s playing with older, bigger, more dominant kids, they tend to influence him to act out more. Friends have such a big influence already. Even though he loves wrestling and roughhousing and just being a boy, he also has a sensitive side. When some of the rougher kids start playing too rough, he’ll tell them that they’re being too rough. Of course I don’t want to protect him from everything, but I hope he’s able to stand up for himself and others if he needs to as he gets older.

S I B L I N G  L O V E

I think Charlie is a great big brother. When he was younger he did get into fights with Olive over toys (she was the master of knocking down towers), but he is much better about sharing and when he is reluctant, we can usually reason with him. And now that Olive can really talk, they just get closer and closer. Charlie’s patience with Olive means that he and Olive very rarely fight now. They’re constantly sharing and thinking about each other. When we were visiting my parents in LA, my mom took Charlie to the toy store and told him to pick out a toy. He scoured the aisles until he selected a Captain America mask. But then he told my mom that they couldn’t leave until they got something for Olive. He carefully picked out a baby doll for Olive. My mom was floored that he was so thoughtful!

Charlie is also fiercely protective of Olive. When they were playing in a ball pit and some big kids came in and were being rough, he sternly told them, “Be careful of my sister because she’s little!” I really hope he continues to watch out for her as they get older. Seeing their relationship is truly one of my greatest joys in life.

Like Mrs. Wagon said, the 4′s are fabulous. Charlie dresses himself, he goes to the bathroom by himself, he’s increasingly independent, and the tantrums are far fewer. I think it only gets better from here (until he becomes a tween and no longer wants to hang out with us!).

I N T E R V I E W

I did this interview on Charlie’s third birthday and asked the same questions around his 4th birthday last year.

What is your favorite color? Blue.  (2012 : blue)

What is your favorite toy? Heatwave (2012yellow doggie)

What is your favorite fruit? strawberries (2012(Asian) pear)

What is your favorite vegetable? asparagus (2012: pickles)

What is your favorite thing to eat?
olives (2012: pancakes)

What is your favorite book? I Want My Hat Back (2012: Big Pumpkin)

Who is your best friend?
 G, M, and D (2012: Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!)

What makes you happy?
candy (2012: Mama, Daddy, and milky!)

What’s your favorite animal?
zebra (2012: fox)

What’s your favorite game?
 Hide and Seek (2012: Don’t Break the Ice)

What’s your favorite thing to do outside?
play in the playground (2012 answer: dig)

What’s your favorite tv show?
 Transformers Rescuebots (2012: Thomas)

What’s something that’s scary? monsters (2012: The dentist in Finding Nemo)

Where is your favorite place to go? his former daycare (2012: The playground)

What’s your favorite song? Rock a bye Baby (2012: Pat-a-cake)

What do you want to be for Halloween next year? Optimus Prime (2012: A bumblebee! — he actually was Bumblebee the Transformer but that’s not the bumblebee he meant when he answered this question last year)

What do you want to be when you grow up? A rescuebot (2012: firefighter)

And since it was Mother’s Day last weekend, I couldn’t resist interviewing him about me this past week!

My mom is (8) years old.

My mom weighs (100) pounds. (good answer!)

My mom’s favorite color is (yellow). (He’s right!)

My mom’s favorite food is (okra).

My mom always says (don’t run ahead).

My mom cooks the best (lunch every day).

My mom’s job is (to protect me).

My mom laughs when (I make her laugh).

If my mom had time, she would love to (go into space in a rocket ship with a space suit).

My mom and I like to (play and pick my nose and eat it).

My mom really loves (me).

Charlie’s Monthly Updates part 37 of 37

1. The Journey to Charlie by Mrs. Bee
2. Charlie's Birth Story by Mrs. Bee
3. 1 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
4. 2 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
5. 3 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
6. 4 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
7. 5 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
8. 6 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
9. 7 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
10. 8 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
11. 9 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
12. 10 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
13. 11 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
14. 12-13 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
15. 13 1/2 Month Update - The Turning Point by Mrs. Bee
16. 14 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
17. 15 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
18. 16 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
19. 17 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
20. 18 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
21. 19 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
22. 20 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
23. 21 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
24. 22 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
25. Charlie's 23 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
26. Charlie's 24 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
27. 25 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
28. Charlie's 26 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
29. Olive 5 Months & Charlie 27 Months by Mrs. Bee
30. 7 Month & 29 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
31. 8 Month & 2 1/2 Year Update by Mrs. Bee
32. 9 Month and 31 Month Updates by Mrs. Bee
33. 10 Month & 32 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
34. 11 Month and 33 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
35. 13 Month and 35 Month Update by Mrs. Bee
36. Charlie 3 Year Update by Mrs. Bee
37. Charlie's 4 Year Update by Mrs. Bee