Growing up is hard to do
I think being 4 years old is hard sometimes, especially for our Nikolai. I think he's aware that we're moving soon, though his perception of time is so weak that it's hard for him to comprehend just how much longer we'll be here (just under four months and counting, not that I'm already sad about leaving either!!).
I think it's also hard to no longer be a baby, and no longer get all of the tidbits of physical affection that a baby gets; a little snuggle after a diaper change, a kiss while being carried up the stairs, being hugged and snuggled and sang to right before a nap. Even though he doesn't need to be carried, etc as much as a baby does anymore, I think he still misses some of that physical connection. I'm trying to be mindful of that--letting him lean against me when we read a book, giving him a kiss on the head when we wrestle together, or asking for a hug when we're having a nice time playing.
That has helped some, I think. What helps too is making sure to spend quality one-on-one time with him. He doesn't actually care what we do together, just so long as it is together. I've been better at that lately (after a bout with some separation anxiety made me realize I need to put some more effort in that department). We've been spending a lot more time together building legos, making puppet shows, and drawing and cutting artwork.
I feel like I'm always setting up a balancing act of power--finding ways for him to have control over his life in the areas he can while still making most of the important decisions for him. It's actually been eye opening for me to sit down and think about which decisions actually matter. When he asks for ice-cream after dinner, and my instinct is to say no--does that actually matter? Can't we eat a little ice-cream together and have a nice time, if that's what he wants? What if he really wants to wear mismatched socks today? Or to ride his bike instead of in the stroller? I don't actually have to have control over these things, even if it would feel nice.
Something I've been re-discovering through this whole process is that I really like this little boy. He has a creative and agile mind and fervently wants to be with people that love him. He has a touchy streak too, but I'm trying to help foster the parts of him that help him push past that touchiness. This is a hard thing--trying to see who your child can be and gently easing them in that direction. Nikolai is a stubborn stick in the mud--he will not be pushed to be nice when he does not want to be--but gentle motions can help him get there.