Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another Summer: Letters to Lucia and Greta


And so another summer begins in New Hampshire. We opened the house for Memorial Day weekend and have the luxury of three and a half days to spend here, thanks to a couple of unused snowdays for the school district. I thought I'd take this opportunity to do a little letter to you, little girls, as we gear up for the summer months ahead.


Dear Lucia,

Your poise, confidence, and independence amaze me on a daily basis. At six and a half, you do most things on your own--choosing your own clothes, cleaning up and organizing your room, getting ready in the morning. You've learned to take out your earrings by yourself (but aren't yet willing to try putting them in). You love your room and even get wrapped up in mundane tasks like folding your own socks and clothes to neaten up your drawers.

You continue to love kindergarten, and are thriving. You can read now--and you're so proud of this. You like to read Elephant and Piggie books to us, and the Honey Bunny Funnybunny books. You also love math and find it fun to do math problems before bedtime. A straight-A student in the making. But you also love your little friends and have a handful of girls you've become good buddies with this year. You come together over Beanie Boos, My Little Ponies, and Shopkins. And nail polish.

It's amazing how quickly you're comfortable in new situations, and how confident you are in your own skin. At swimming lessons, you giggle and have animated conversations with the other kids in your class--strangers until a couple of weeks ago. Last week, as you walked from the shallow end to the deep end, I watched as you strutted in rhythm while doing the Macarena moves with your arms. Where does that confidence come from?

You continue to be a child who is never bored. Ever. You and Greta play together all day long, and I protect this playtime religiously. I hope someday you'll agree that it's the right choice not to sign you up for any camps this summer, though camp is the thing to do out here in the 'burbs. I just can't imagine taking away your free time, even if what would replace it sounds fun enough. It wouldn't be anywhere near the games you come up with at home, like riding your various riding things around the driveway while shouting that you have to escape the "timber wolf." Summer is sacred to me, and I'm fortunate enough to be able to give you a fully unstructured experience--broken up by fun trips and weekends away, of course.

You're pretty much perfect at six-and-a-half, with one notable exception: your alarming state of loose teeth, old teeth, new teeth, and half-grown teeth, all coexisting in a pretty shocking way right now in your tiny mouth. Your loose teeth don't want to fall out, and the new teeth don't want to wait to come in, and I'm really glad you have a dentist appointment coming up because I think what we have here is an orthodontic Situation.

Favorite toys/activities: riding your Flash Rider, scooter, and Plasma Car around the driveway; jump-roping; swinging; Legos; Shopkins; My Little Pony; Beanie Boos; Equestria Girls; singing Equestria Girls songs; coloring and drawing

Favorite books: Elephant and Piggie, Honey Bunny Funnybunny. Sadly, we don't have much time to read together these days aside from bedtime, since you're in school all day. That'll change in the summer.


Dear Greta,

Oh, four. Four schizophrenic years old. When she was good she was very very good, etc. And most of the time, you are: you're a cuddly and hilarious child, full of fun and goofiness, with a love of singing that cares nothing for your absolute tone-deafness. We have our mornings together, just the two of us, and your favorite thing to do is curl up next to me on the couch with a huge stack of books that we work our way through from top to bottom. You love being read to more than just about anything else.

You've become very independent lately, and you're very happy to pick out your own clothes each day and get dressed--often before you even come in to say good morning. You love playing in your room with your stuffed animals--I've never seen two kids love stuffed animals like you and Lucia do. You still adore My Little Ponies, and you can play tirelessly with them. You love anything tiny and cute.

When you're in the pinnacle of good moods, the things you say are so precocious and hilarious it's hard not to laugh. Today, doing puzzles in New Hampshire, Lucia asked you if you'd help her with her puzzle when you finished yours. "OF COURSE I WILL," you declared. "We're sisters! Of course I'll help you, because that's what sisters do!!!" You also boldly agreed to almost everything today with a boisterous "Sure!" or "Of course!" Greta, would you like some goldfish? OF COURSE I would!

You love practicing writing your letters and have gotten quite good. You also are trying to sound out words like Lucia does--I wouldn't be surprised if you read earlier than she did (not that I'm comparing; just observing) because you already kind of get how to go about things. You absolutely love carrying around a notebook and pen. You draw wonderful pictures these days, full of people and details. You drew a picture of yourself with Gra and Pop-Pop recently and filled all three bodies with what you said were bones. And you tell stories about your pictures, which I love.

You're also incredibly observant. Last week I was working on something on my computer for a second--something dealing with the book-cover image of Each Vagabond by Name--and you came over and said, "Why do you like that book so much?" You clearly noticed that the cover image is everywhere--on the books in my office, on my computer screen a lot, on stuff I print out. I tried to explain that it's my book, that I wrote it, but you didn't seem too overly impressed, even when I said I was like Mo Willems.

So that's all good. But oh, the bad spells. They do not happen often. But when you tilt over into what we call Fit Greta, and your response to the universe is to throw a fit of defying, whining, refusing, and protesting, the world stops. It's impossible to continue with daily life. Which is unfortunate, because daily life has to go on. I'd despair, but I remember similar states that Lucia fell into at four and a half, and now she's the pleasantest, most reasonable child I could hope for. So there's hope for you. (And me.)

The hardest thing is just the unpredictability. By five or six I trust you'll be on a more even keel.

Favorite toys/activities: stuffed animals, ponies, Beanie Boos, Shopkins, tiny teasets. having tea parties outside with a bin of water, riding vehicles around the driveway, swinging, being read to, coloring, writing in your notebooks

Favorite books: Elephant and Piggie, and so many others. I can't even think right now because we basically just go through the bookshelf each day. You love them all. My favorite books to read to you are the ones from when I was a kid.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

We Are Going to the Zoo

“We are going to the zoo. The first thing we are going to do is go on the merry-go-round.”

Yesterday, Lucia brought home a photocopy of a writing assignment she’d done at school, one that wasn’t going to be sent home until the end of the year. Her teacher had added a post-it that said Lucia had been proud of her work and wanted to show us. Indeed, when I talked to her about it, she was incredibly proud and excited--the crucial part of it being that she did it entirely herself. Planning what to say, sounding out the words, writing them down. A truly exciting kindergarten moment.