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    Four: The Rite of Passage

    January 5, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    We never purposely turned the age of four into a monumental age, but the children have made it so. It happened quite by accident, and I blame the government. You see, in this domineering socialist grand state, the age at which a child is freed from the confines of his car seat, but immediately required by law to purchase another consumer product (the booster chair) is four.

    Hence the child-initiated rite of passage.

    And we have never had a child get as excited about the whole thing as Q. has.

    Last Wednesday evening, while Si’s mom was still here, we threw a little party. (She never gets to attend any birthday parties, so we scheduled this especially to fit her visit.) Flower cupcakes were served (photos to come) and gifts were given.

    One of these gifts was a Booster Seat.

    Who would have thought this purely functional item (well, it does have flowers on the fabric) could be so popular? Within five minutes, there was a bit of a scuffle over it involving our birthday girl and her toddler brother, who insisted it was meant for him.

    But her real birthday was not until Friday, and so she waited.

    On Thursday: Is it my birthday?

    On Friday, then, I expected her to wake with excitement, but it turns out she forgot! When I gave her a birthday greeting in the morning, she looked confused, so I explained that I said that because today she was four.

    She ran to Daddy. I heard her whisper, “Daddy! Mommy says I’m four.”

    Booster chairs bring with them all sorts of privileges. You see, going on an Errand with Daddy typically requires a child to be of booster seat age because Daddy likes to save on gas by driving his Fairly Efficient Compact Car and he does not like uninstalling and reinstalling and uninstalling and reinstalling car seats.

    We let her choose anything she wanted for lunch. Did she want Mommy to make something special?

    No. I want a brito and mac n cheese from Pollo Loco.

    Burritos it was.

    We piled into the Suburban, and she was beaming as she buckled up her booster chair all by herself.

    Adding a booster chair has completely changed our Car Ride Dynamics.

    This is because the State has other conditions. Namely, that booster chairs can only be used with shoulder straps. Otherwise, the child must remain in a car seat with a five-point-harness until he graduates from college.

    The need for the shoulder strap meant that we moved everybody around in the car in order to make sure that every booster chair had a shoulder strap, there was still a seat down for easy exit, and the toddler’s seat had the lap belt. The end result was girls in the backseat, boys in the middle seat.

    Now a normal car ride for our family involves a lot of quiet, for the most part (unless we are reading aloud). This isn’t on purpose; it’s just that E. brings a book to read, and so A. (who was next to him) just looked out of the window. Q. and O. sometimes chattered or argued, but for the most part it was quiet.

    Not so, with the introduction of a Girls’ Row and all. Never have I heard so much giggling and earnest discussion in a single ride. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think my future will be full of noisy car rides.

    And Q. suddenly seems so much older, sitting in the back discussing life with Big Sister.

    Yesterday, when I took E. to the doctor, Q. rode along. She told the doctor, Because I’m four. And I ride in a booster seat. I’m big now.

    There is one more thing. Years ago, when a two-year-old (I don’t remember who it was) was begging me for gum, I said, “No, you are too little.” Then when? “When you are four.”

    Everybody remembers this, and four, from that day forth, was also the Official Gum Chewing Age in our house. So when we were heading out the door yesterday, Q. also got her first piece of gum. She has since decided that she’s not a big fan, but she obviously felt very Mature, having chewed gum and all, and I think we will have to bring her down a notch or two before the week is over.

    But four? I think four will be fun indeed.

    Even if I do miss having a three-year-old.

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  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm


    Sorry! I keep bringing up the naps, and I keep forgetting that we are weird! I still maintain this is because my children do not sleep as long at night…

  • Reply Mystie January 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Hahaha. I will refrain from jealousy. All mine give up all naps at 3. But all mine still have quiet time for 1-2 hours in the afternoon. But Knox and Ilse are sharing a room right now, so we’ll have to rearrange that situation when she becomes allowed to play instead of lay in her bed. She already only sleeps half the afternoons she’s in there.

    Yes, 8 years or 80 pounds is the Washington law as well; however, 5+ can sit in a lap-belt only seat if it’s all that available in the car.

    My boys are gum addicts. That why I started paying for their jobs a few years ago: so they could support their own habit. πŸ™‚ They’ve recently realized how many things there are in the world (WalMart) to spend money on and have curbed their gum desires in order to save up for Star Wars Legos. πŸ™‚

  • Reply dawn January 6, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I think it is 8 or 80 pounds here in Ohio.

    I’ve never been much of a gum chewer … but other candy/cookies are another story πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 6, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I totally agree that FIVE is the big turning-point age. At five, they usually start a bit of school, and they often drop their nap sometime that year, etc. So Q. still seems little to me–I still get to sing to her before her nap each day, and cuddle with her when she wakes up. But she thinks she is totally old now. πŸ™‚

    Mystie, I cannot believe your state requires boosters until 8! Ours requires them until 6 and I thought that was a lot. Of course, we have our 8-year-old in one even though it isn’t required. He is quite small (only just now getting over 50 pounds), and he fits our large seats much better in a booster. But we don’t have to use them when he is in the little car or going somewhere with someone else.

    CONFESSION: my children want to chew gum because I chew far too much of it. πŸ™

  • Reply dawn January 6, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I have a five year old as of yesterday. I didn’t get it before I had children, but five is really grown up …

    But I’m with you, I love three year olds. They are the silliest children and this seems to be the first year they “get” things (like Christmas and Birthdays) R-girl is also looking forward to a booster seat when she can go out with just Daddy occasionally.

    We don’t have the gum rule, though. I don’t know that any of my kids have had gum.

  • Reply Pam... January 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    So sweet. I love hearing moms get excited about their children’s days. It is true mommyhood in it’s purest form. You are creating memories. My older kids are now 24 and 26 and the things they remember! *kinda scary!

    Ps. We have two boosters and a car seat in my little car for errands. Kinda squishy! But yes, momentous and they love those growing up milestones.

  • Reply Robin McCormack January 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Your kids sound precious. Thanks for sharing her momentous occasion. *grin*

  • Reply Mystie January 5, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    My two-year-old will be three on Sunday. Sigh.

    The booster is a big deal around here, too.

    Five, so far, has seemed like the biggest jump in maturity in the little years. I always think of 5 as a big deal. I have friends whose oldest just turned 5, and I told them this is the year he will really become a “Big Kid.” πŸ™‚

    We have been known to fudge the onerous carseat rules. Hans is looking forward to 8, since that is the age he no longer needs a booster at all.

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