It can be emotional whiplash living with a 4-year-old. And not just because he's learning so much so fast that his brain gets overwhelmed fairly often.

Take this morning, for example. We're cuddling on the couch, and he says to me, "Why is your tummy so GIANT?" I told him it's not, and that that wasn't a nice thing to say and that it hurt my feelings. I mean, my stomach is not in its pre-kids state, by any stretch (heh) of the imagination, but giant felt like an overstatement. "YES, IT IS!" he said in that know-it-all way that 4-year-olds are expert in. "Your tummy is GIIIIIIIANT!"

"Well," I told him, "it's a little stretched out from carrying two babies. First, I had you in my belly, and then remember last year before your baby brother was born how big my tummy got?"

"Oh, right," he said.

And then: "Mommy, remember when I was still 3 years old, and Aaron was just a little baby, and at bedtime I never listened to you ever? I'm sorry I did that."

I seized up for a minute. Did I remember solo parenting him and his newborn brother, wild with fear that something was going to happen to his dad in Afghanistan but trying to shelve the feeling, and facing off with my toddler nightly for months over sleep? I sure remembered. But I was really hoping that he didn't.

"Yes, sweetie, I remember. That was a hard time, huh? But you are doing a much better job listening now. Thank you. And I'm sorry that I got upset and that I didn't always listen to you, either."

"That's OK! I just wanted to say that I was sorry for that."

I gave him a big hug, wondering if someone had explained the meaning of Yom Kippur to him, because his dad and I hadn't gotten around to that yet (other than telling him that dad wasn't going to eat until tonight and that we're going to a friend's house for dinner). I was also feeling sad that he did seem to remember, with some clarity even, what was certainly our toughest time of my husband's deployment, and relief that we'd had a chance to talk about it.

Two seconds later, returning to an earlier topic of conversation: "I want *two* snacks this morning! Now!"

Negative, Ghostrider. The pattern is full.

It can be tough living with a 4-year-old. But I think it's probably harder to be one.