Monday, June 15, 2015

Letter to Lucia: Last Day of Pre-K / 67 Months

Dear Lucia,

You've finished preschool last week! Three years--done. This was by far the hardest year to say goodbye to, for me at least. You had a pre-K year that was wonderful beyond words. Exceptionally warm and talented teachers, supportive and welcoming preschool community, lovely classmates and families, activities that fully embraced both fun and kindergarten prep. We couldn't have asked for more.

On the way home from your last day, I asked you how you felt, anticipating sadness; but all you said, happily, was, "I feel like kindergarten." You loved this year but are eagerly anticipating the next big thing, which is as it should be.

Month by month, you're becoming more of a five-year-old, curious and funny and so much yourself in ways that--I have to admit--have little to do with me. You still love reading books together, and your interest in identifying sight words is growing--my ambitious goal for the summer is to get you even closer to reading. When I raise my phone to take your picture, you instantly strike a glamour-girl pose that I definitely didn't teach you. You wear dresses almost exclusively. You still love your bibi, little more now than a series of ragged knots. You know to hide it in your bureau drawer when the housekeeper comes to clean, because it looks like something that should be tossed away.

But by far, my favorite thing about you right now is that you can--and do--laugh yourself to tears. Greta is almost always the instigator, and she knows her power, pulling out silly tricks to send you into hysterics. This weekend in New Hampshire, you had a laughing fit the likes of which we'd never seen before; later, calmer, you told me, "I laughed so hard I think I went pee-pee in my pants!" Indeed. There is little I love more than sisterly hysterics, and I'm so happy you and Greta have this dynamic. For the record, your laughing fit was brought about by Greta riffing on a family joke--Daddy insisting on calling one of your My Little Ponies "Big Mandy," which isn't any more ridiculous than an actual pony name but which enrages you when he insists on using it. Daddy made a reference to Big Mandy being at your preschool camp, which you of course adamantly denied, and then Greta said, "Big Jack? Big Emma?" and went through all your friends at school. This struck you as the funniest thing ever. "I'm crying!!" you said at one point. It was something to behold.

And thus--we're closing the preschool chapter. Onward to kindergarten, after a summer of fun.

Favorite books: Magic Treehouse books, Alice & Greta, various Disney Wonderful World of Reading books from the 1970s, Poppleton books

Favorite toys/activities: My Little Pony (as intense as ever), plush princess dolls, arranging your Legos in perfectly symmetrical patterns, scooter riding, drawing perfectly symmetrical pictures, chalk, tea parties with water on the patio

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Letter to Greta: Last Day of School (2 1/2-year-old class) / 43 Months

Dear Grets,

Well, you did it: you made it through your first year of preschool. It started off dramatically, with so many tears and so much clinging and sadness. I'll never forget peeking into your classroom after your first day of school, expecting a happy, proud baby, and seeing instead your sad, tear-streaked little face, lips quivering, barely holding it together--and then you losing it completely when you finally caught sight of me. I don't think you've ever sobbed so tragically. We started your preschool experience by sobbing together as the other kids and parents milled about.

Happily, things changed for you. For a while, you cried when I left, and I spent the first two weeks of school hanging out in a nearby meeting room just in case you needed me (you didn't). Eventually, you gave me sad, worried looks, but no longer cried. And then--it all clicked for you. You gave me a hug goodbye and traipsed into the classroom with nary a backward glance. I won't go so far as to say you became outgoing--but you had fun, and made some little friends, and finally understood that preschool was okay.

Now here you are, your first year of preschool behind you. So much drama, for so little time--just two mornings a week, 2.5 hours each. Truly, no time at all, but to a tiny baby like you it really must have seemed so big, so daunting. But you did it. It's hard for me to imagine you two years from now, doing the stuff Lucia's doing in pre-K, but you'll get there.

Funnily enough, as much as you've changed, your love of My Little Pony remains as strong as it was on your first day of school.

Aside from school, OH MY LORD have you become a holy terror. Mercurial, naughty, hell-bent on making routine tasks as difficult as possible. It's like living with an insane person. Yesterday, I called you and Lucia to dinner--Trader Joe's tortellini. You stood in the living room and screamed "NOOOO! NOT TORTELLINI!! I HATE TORTELLINI!!" and mustered all your energy to produce a few forced, hysterical sobs. No whining, no protesting, just full-on dinner meltdown--eyes squeezed shut, tears streaming down your red face, the world was ending because of the cheese tortellini on your plate. I chose not to engage, told you that this was dinner but it was your choice whether to eat it or not. I then suggested you eat just the white tortellini. "Oh! Yes!" you said, brightening, and you skipped over to the table and declared, "I will eat the orange tortellini. I will eat all of them!" Then cleaned your plate. Seriously--an insane person.

Combing your hair is the bane of my existence. The only thing that seems to work--when it works--is my telling you that if I don't comb your hair, it will become a nest, and I'll have to cut it "short like a boy." This hits home for you. You still writhe and scream, but you'll let me do it. Except on the days you don't. You had a near-dreadlock forming on the back of your head a few weeks ago--I thought I was going to have to cut it out. Sigh. You have thick, curly hair--my legacy. Forgive me, little one.

You are also reveling in your ability to make Lucia freak out. You know exactly what toy or object to grab and run with, holding it tight to your chest like a football and just running for dear life, often screaming, "Try to catch me!!!" You don't negotiate, you don't bargain, you don't respond to threats or ultimatums. You...just..annoy. You have discovered your power, and it is something to behold.

You're three and a half! Help us all. Good thing you're cuter than cute, little beauty.

Favorite toys/activities: playing on the patio, My Little Pony, Playmobil animals, magnetic dress-up dolls, painting with water, collecting stones etc

Favorite books: Alice & Greta, A Little Princess (easy reader), a book in Spanish Andrew brought from Mexico, princess books