Sunday, July 27, 2014

I Wonder

In two weeks and two days, Amelia and Anderson will go to Kindergarten.

As a teacher, I've always claimed that I am not going to be emotional when they go to their first day of school. Instead of being dramatic, I'm going to be happy; happy that they're going to start their independent life, that they're going to be learning, legitimately learning things like addition and subtraction and comprehension. And a happy bonus--no more insane cost of simultaneously putting two kids through private preschool . Let's just say it has been...costly.

As the time gets closer, though, I see why parents get emotional.  It's not that they're sad that their babies are going to school for a whole day every day. It's that going to school means leaving behind a certain part of childhood. It's a definite step up on the staircase of life. It's both exciting--seriously, I'm so excited for them--but so sad that they're at this age. It has passed in the blink of an eye.

I've been watching them lately through this new lens, the lens of a burgeoning educational career. I've been listening to their words, watching their interactions with others and thinking about how who they have become over the last five years is going to translate into becoming a part of the classroom community. Classrooms truly are little mini communities--they are a child's first taste of the real world outside of their home. There is an economy, and laws complete with punishments for infractions.  And most importantly, their is a social system that EXACTLY mimics the outside grown-up world.  There are first friends, and first enemies, and the realization that despite not always liking every request or every peer, being respectful and responsible leads to a happy life. So, I've been watching, and thinking, taking it all in. Wondering how they will do.
I've watched them go from wordlessly ignoring each other, to parallel play, to playing together. I've watched them navigate disagreements with one another, and I'm proud to say that on a daily basis, I hear one or the other say, "When you are finished with _________, then it will be my turn." There is rarely a need for parental intervention. They love and respect each other.
I've watched this little guy struggle with words. I've watched him develop words, but struggle to use them to describe what he needs. I've watched him begin to ask for certain things and ask questions about his surroundings. And I've watched him become more flexible in his thinking (sometimes) and conquer some huge sources of anxiety. I think he is so brave. And so smart.
And this one. I've watched her struggle to sit independently well after turning a year old. I've seen her balance on her tiny bird legs, taking that first step at almost two years old. I've seen her struggle physically to keep up with her brother and friends. I've watched her deal with heartache over others not taking her seriously because despite being five years old, most people we encounter think she is much younger. And yet, she is so confident, and strong, and determined. She's gone from calling me Mommy to "Mom", and has even developed that little indignant tone that only girls use with their mothers. Lately, she's become so much more empathetic. She understands her brother's needs on a different level and is very protective of him. She is all about fairness. And she is so, SO smart. I worry about her in school, and I'm so excited all at the same time. She's ready.
Their legs have lengthened, as have their sentences.  They've lost the baby fat from their cheeks and the baby words from their vocabularies.  Amelia says things like "I was COMPLETELY scared of that thunderstorm!" and Anderson hedges the rules we have about saying the words 'stupid' and 'dumb' by saying 'cupid' and 'drum'. They're quick to let me know that they are feeling "mad" when I've denied them some request or asked them to do something that they don't like. They think logically and rarely lash out in anger, especially with one another.

So lately, I've wondered about how they'll function at school. How they'll fit in. And the answer: who knows? Just like the adult world, nothing is really predictable. You can prepare for anything and be thrown a curveball at any time. But you know what? My little humans are as ready as anyone else. I think they're more than ready. And I am so, SO incredibly proud of them and how far they have come. So proud.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

No News is Good News

I've turned on the computer to blog twice in the last week, but then I just stare at it. Nothing too exciting is happening around here. We're enjoying the few real weeks of summer that we have before we start the back-to-school stuff. We've settled into a routine of wake up, go to the YMCA and work out while the kids play in their Kids Corner, change and go to the pool and have a picnic lunch, come home and relax or nap. Dinner, play outside, showers and bed. Repeat.  It's a comfortable, pleasant routine, even for someone who HATES when things get too monotonous.

Anderson has really become interested in time--not so much what time it is because the numbers don't really mean much to him--but whether it's morning, afternoon, and night.  Marty was kind of explaining it to him one day, showing him where the sun rises, how it's in the center of the sky around mid-day, and where it sets at night.  He paid attention and brings it to our attention all the time.  He'll say things like, "When the sun goes down and it is night, we will go to dinner."  Marty chuckled the other day and said he sounds like a Native American--something like "When the sun is high in the sky and the buffalo roams the fields, we will be ready to hunt." Now every time he says it, I crack up. He's gone all Dances With Wolves on us.

Confession: we don't spend a lot of time at other people's houses. It's not that we are anti-social, it's that we don't get together with people very often. My friends are either past the little kid stage of life and don't exactly want two five-year-olds terrorizing their houses, or they also have little kids and we're all so busy we can never seem to find time to get together.  So, when we spent a lovely day at some friends' house a few weeks ago, they REALLY enjoyed it. They also became super interested in family dynamics. Like who is a mother, who is a wife, etc. etc. Anderson loves to remind me that I'm Marty's wife. Amelia volunteers to be Anderson's wife. Anderson claims he wants his cousin to be his wife. Hilarity ensues with these conversations on the daily. Who knew conversations about incest could be so funny?

Every summer, I have these grandiose plans for all the many things I will get accomplished around the house.  Every summer, around this time, I sink into a great depression because I have yet to accomplish said grandiose plans. This summer? I made NONE. My plans included going to the pool as much as humanly possible and enjoying the kids. And you know what? No depression. On one hand, I could be disappointed in myself and say that it's lazy and slovenly to not accomplish anything. But in reality, I AM accomplishing something. I'm enjoying my summer with my kids without the weight of needing-to-be-doing-something on my shoulders. And bonus? Anything I DO manage to get done is just extra goodness! The kids and I went through every single toy that we own and gave away/threw away all the things that were broken or that we no longer play with.  The result is a much neater room for both of them, as well as less junk just laying around the house! See? Bonus!

Next week the kids will be going with me to work for four hours/day and participating in my school's Camp Kindergarten summer program.  We went today to kind of get them used to it, and they loved it. I think it'll be good for them. It'll be good for all of us.