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.

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