Soren has inherited his father's inability to lose gracefully. We were playing Chutes and Ladders one Saturday and all was going well...until he hit his first chute. "Let's do something else, Mommy," he said, trying to close the game board. "Oh no you don't," I said. "You don't just quit when the going gets tough! Let's keep playing." At chute number two, he grew really quiet and tears started welling up in his eyes. Chute number three was the end: he had reached his breaking point and burst into noisy, sobbing tears. "Let's play a game where there are no winners or losers, okay, Mommy?" he begged. I couldn't resist those big blue eyes.
Soren recently asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. "A writer," I told him. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I expected him to say "a farmer," which is his usual response to this question. Instead he said, "I want to paint people's houses for them."
Soren's best friend is our next-door neighbor Koen. They've gotten pretty good at playing together, and make up fun little adventure games that involve Good Guys and Bad Guys. They squabble a lot, though. Last week Soren called Koen a "stupid poopoo face" and wouldn't apologize, even with Koen following him around, saying, "Sowen, you awe my fwend." Soren had to go to his room; Koen had to go home. It was very dramatic. It reminds me of all the fights I used to have with my best friend Becky. We'd part in a huff and then the next day it was all, "Can Becky come over to play?"
When we took Soren to the fair this year we let him go on two rides. He stood in the line all by himself, holding his tickets in his little hand, and I almost wept. He just looked so big. And so small.
Soren has taken to big brotherhood, at long, long last. Does he still pick on Liam? Um, yeah. But he also looks out for him. One day he noticed Liam getting sleepy so he guided him into their bedroom, helped him onto the bottom bunk, covered up with a blanket, and tucked him in. "G'night, yeeyum." Another time Liam crashed down some cement steps and was screaming; Soren offered him one of his own fruit snacks as consolation.
Sometimes when Liam lies down for a nap I'll take a little nap too. I'll tell Soren not to talk to me until the timer buzzes, set the timer for an hour, and lie down on the couch. And he'll usually do really well at playing by himself. Once in a while he'll come over and move my hair out of my eyes and whisper, "There you go."
Soren is Soren. He's still intense and emotional. He still knows how to push every single one of my buttons until the machine jams up and I start flashing and making horrible noises. But he's also so sweet. So dear. So cuddly and trusting. I want him to be four forever.
(Photos taken by Andrea Rausch in April 2011)