Yesterday morning my three-year-old son, Oscar, and I were sitting on the patio of a local bagel shop and laughing at every silly word and sound we could think of. He has a super sophisticated sense of humor for someone so young. I swear he’d laugh like crazy at Saturday Night Live if there were anything funny about it these days.

Lately he’s been waking us up regularly at 5:30 am. When I mentioned that I was getting a bit tired of him getting up at the “crack of dawn,” he thought that was hilarious. Naturally he made the phrase into one funny word like “crackodon.” We both laughed and I called him a crackodon the rest of the day. Sort of like elephant ancestor the mastodon, except Oscar’s alive and wakes up way too early. Yes, very much full of life this one.

Crackodon likes his bagels. He also likes Batman and just about any other super intense character like himself.

Being able to enjoy this kid so much is a big deal for me, given the psycho range of mommy emotions I’d had since the moment he was conceived.

Four years ago, I turned up pregnant unexpectedly. At at a time in my life when I wasn’t in a position to fully appreciate the gift of life.

Why it was so unexpected is beyond me. When you go off the pill and start using the calendar method, you might as well set your dusty box of maternity clothes next to aforementioned calendar.

My youngest was about to enter kindergarten, my oldest nearly nine. And while I certainly don’t hold the record for live births or child spacings (Duggers have that well surrounded), the Walgreen’s home pregnancy test rocked my world. Practically every spec of our baby gear had been given away or sold in a landmark garage sale. Even when I held Oscar in my arms for the first time, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the idea of having a baby–again.

Only one of my close girlfriends had a clue what sort of inner turmoil was brewing in me those early years. When Oscar was nearly two she confided in me that she finally was able to say she was glad they had had their third child. Who had just turned four.

Four? Was it really going to take that long? The conflicting emotions in my heart brought on more guilt than you can imagine. Did I love this child? Definitely. Did I want someone else to come along and take over the tough chores of toddler discipline and potty training? Are you good at answering rhetorical questions?

Not being members of the aristocracy, we did our own parenting dirty work, complete with cleaning poop off the carpet when Oscar decided that’s where he should go if a diaper was no longer an option. Like they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Unless your mother kills you first.

Oscar turns four December 1, and I can honestly say I see some light at the end of this tunnel. At least when I squint really hard. He’s still the most strong willed, intense kid I’ve ever known. He’s also the funniest, sweetest three year old you’ll ever meet.

You do not want to meet him in a dark alley, ever. Still cannot figure out how I gave birth vaginally to someone with such a large head.

This morning (Sunday), Crackodon woke me up at 5:30 ready to eat breakfast and play toys. While I’m half asleep and grinding coffee (drug of choice), I decide to let him inspect a bean or two on the counter. Three minutes later he’s pointing at his nose and telling me something hurts. Yep, you guessed it–though I didn’t immediately (did I mention this was 5:30 am?). After my initial shock of feeling something hard up his schnoz, I was able to retrieve the bean and avoid an early-morning trip to the ER.

Four is going to be a very good year.