I love 5-year-olds, but they will trick you with their cuteness, and then all of a sudden, you are in a convoluted argument about the letter B. In one moment, they are hilarious and insightful and lovable. In the next, they can drive you to drown your sorrows in Girl Scout cookies with their stubbornness and their snarky attitude. Mine gives the best hugs in the world, and then tells me how stinky my breath is. It’s really just very confusing having a 5-year-old.
Take for example…
They know bigger words, but they don’t always know how to use them. My daughter tries to use the word “mention” for whenever she is speaking. When her brother is talking over her, she starts hollering, “But I was mentioning already!”
And they know all the sounds the letters make, but they still say “yittle” instead of “little,” and sometimes you want to keel over from how adorable it all is.
Learning is often a when-they-feel-like-it situation. Mine isn’t in kindergarten yet, so I have to trick her into learning stuff. If she even suspects that I’m trying to teach her something while we are playing sight-word bingo, her eyes glaze over or she starts fake dying.
They know which of our buttons to push to get the greatest reaction. Have you ever heard the gleeful snicker of a 5-year-old who has effectively annoyed their sibling into screaming? It’s like they become drunk with the power they have over another human being.
They get humor and can crack themselves up. The giggling when they think something is funny is so infectious that they could probably be used for some kind of national security.
They understand that they are still little, and they so badly want to be big. They want this more than dessert or pool birthday parties. My 5-year-old has an outfit that she calls her “teenager clothes,” which consists of black leggings and an oversized flowered hoodie. She wears this outfit so much that sometimes I have to let it be in the “wash” for a few days to get her to wear something else.
They are starting to understand bigger concepts like people and animals dying, and this breaks their hearts and mine. The first time a child realizes that life is a finite thing is a tragic moment. Their little egos are just developing, and they honestly can’t imagine a time on the planet when they won’t exist.
They are as excited to learn as they ever will be. I mean, from other people besides their moms. My daughter blows my mind with the knowledge she brings home from preschool. Pineapples grow from plants, not trees! Mind totally blown.
They are really trying to separate who they are from the naughty things they sometimes do. The sadness that is a 5-year-old who gets into trouble and then asks if you still love them is heartbreaking. I’m crying right now just thinking about it.
They are starting to get that they are different from other people. They are good at some things and need to work harder on other things. Some of us are still working on this.
Their people are their people. They love so fiercely and with their entire selves. You are a lucky person if you are loved by a 5-year-old because no one will ever love you with more.
They begin to see that people will sometimes want stuff from them that they aren’t willing to give. I won’t forget the first time my 5-year-old unapologetically refused someone a hug when they asked. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud. She’s like, “Nope, and don’t ask again.”
They want so much to make their loved ones proud of them. Make sure you tell your 5-year-old how proud you are of them the next time they do something nice without prompting. They will light up the world with their happiness.
They understand bigger feelings, but they don’t always realize that they can control them. The emotions! The drama! The wild unhinged storm of feelings when they see blood coming out of their paper cut! Oh my god, calm down, tiny human.
They start to understand that not everyone in the world likes them. Whoa. They’ve spent a lot of their life in a bubble of adoration, and then all of a sudden kids don’t want to play with them or strangers look at them strangely in the store while they’re wearing their Elsa gown. I still have a hard time accepting that people don’t like me.
Five-year-olds are complicated, fascinating creatures, and if you have the joy of knowing one, you should consider yourself very lucky. They will create some havoc with your emotions and your sanity, but you will never find a more entertaining or loving person. Just make sure you’ve got all the intricacies of the letter “B” figured out, or they will take you down.