Big Bear, I love you no matter what.

For about four days Beren was a very, very grumpy bear. On day one, I was grumpy bear, too, so it's hard to say who started it.

Could've been my fault, my bad mood might have been catching. Jared noted that I was a grumpy bear momma, and instead of snapping at him, I snapped my attitude back into shape. It soon became obvious that Beren had a mild stomach complaint, though he very, very strongly denied have a stomachache.

After one romp outside, Jared snuggled Beren on the couch. Jared asked, "Is it hard that it's cold out and we spend more time inside?" "I want there to be green leaves!" Beren said.

Some of my tension eased as I listened to their conversation. Maybe they were getting to the bottom of this grump. The seasonal transition is tough. It's tough for me. He's better when we're occupied outside, but then again, not really. And then he's ok, when we're cuddled and reading a book. When I get up, he goes wild.

"Is it just me?" I asked Jared. A shriek from Beren, something in the other room wasn't going well. "No, it's not just you." Some jump he had attempted wasn't perfect. Maybe this is just who he is? Maybe he was in some developmental stage? But then there's the bellyache... I pinwheeled from understanding mother to tearful mother to angry mother to guilty mother.

He was a grouch. There was no denying it. On day three, he looked at me, smiled, and dumped the laundry basket on the floor. "Are you doing that because you know it will make me upset?" I asked. An honest but unanswerable question for a 3.99 year old. Little transgressions and big overreactions continued through the day.

On day four, he knocked over a potted plant, and refused to sweep up the dirt. Everything was uncomfortable, nothing was right. On and on. I thought I'd lose my mind. It was becoming an ineffective contest of the wills.

I frequently tried to set Beren up with a fun arrangement of toys, play for awhile and then slip into an adjacent room for peace. Beren would quickly come find me. I reminded myself that when Beren acts like this, more attention works better than less attention, but any amount of attention seemed not quite right. Most things Jared and I were doing were not good enough or so our child was letting us know in a variety of ways.

I considered calling my Mom to ask her to babysit. I searched the web for "four year old cranky" and got many hits, including a somewhat humorous article about how years two through four are very difficult. So, year five is magic? What about the teen years, I wondered? What will become of me then?  Still, I felt a little better - maybe this will end.

Jared and I took turns parenting, and somehow did not turn on each other.

On day four, Jared told me that his sister and her boyfriend were in the area. I alternated between thinking it was a good idea and a bad idea. Guests? Now?

Their arrival loosened our frazzled household's mood. We shared dinner and conversation. We discussed a relative with a young and spirited child who opened all of Beren's gifts at his first birthday party. I mused that she might be seven years old by now. My sister-in-law laughed, "That's an interesting age." She's a teacher, so she has some insights. My respite will be between age five and six, I'm guessing.

When Beren's aunt suggested he show them his room, Jared and I sighed with relief as they ascended the steps.

We huddled in the kitchen. "Oh thank g/d they're here," we agreed. Jared opened a jar of chocolate from Belgium. We each stuck butter knives into the jar and ate the truffle-like sweet from our blades. We doubled dipped. When I put down my knife, Jared said, "You deserve more. Here."

When our guests left Beren returned to his off kilter behavior. "Chamomile, he needs chamomile," I said to Jared. He got chamomile and his bedtime routine.

When he woke this morning, the beast had been dispelled.