August 23, 2013
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
In the last few weeks we’ve tried to do our best to sign the girls up for activities to help their schedule come back to something familiar. We’re in a different state, a different time zone, and a different house, but doggie paddles and pliés are the same across the country. By engaging in familiar extracurricular hobbies, we’re hoping to continue our smooth transition of our move to Illinois.
Besides, it’s nice to have the kids busy after school.
To that end we visited a highly-recommended dance school close to our house. I’d called ahead of time and asked if one of the teachers could assess the kids so we could put them in the class best suited to their current skills. When we got to the dance school, a kind teacher took the kids into one of the studios and began taking them through some simple dance forms. Seven and Five did some of the forms together, and for some of them they took turns.
When we got home, Seven asked, “Are we going to be in dance class with other students?”
“Yes,” I said, explaining the whole idea behind the assessment.
“Good,” she replied, “because I want laughter in the room.”
Seriously?! What fruit loop universe is she living in?
To help the kids keep their academic skills sharp, I gave them worksheets out of age-appropriate workbooks every day. One day Five began a worksheet that asked her to identify the missing pieces of two pictures. The top picture showed the outer frame of a house with no doors, windows, or chimney, and the bottom picture showed a dog missing its ears, tail, and one leg.
Always looking for an opportunity to engage in art and always the animal lover, Five took her time with the dog and made sure she completed it. She looked above the dog at the house, and after considering it for just a minute she drew half an oval on its side.
I didn’t understand at first why she’d drawn it. Five, I’ve discovered, looks at the world with her own creative vision, often seeing elements no one else does and always surprising us with them.
“What’s that?” I asked. “A mountain?”
“An entrance,” she stated matter-of-factly.
Oh. An entrance for the doghouse.
“What’s another word for entrance?” I asked, suddenly amused at her use of the word.
She thought about it for a minute. “Um…”
“A door, right?”
“A door,” she repeated slowly, almost as if she didn’t know the meaning of the word.
Where do these kids get this stuff? How many five-year-olds use the word “entrance” over “door”?
Seven started school on Monday, and when we picked her up after school she entered the car somewhat subdued. She enjoyed her day, she replied in answer to our questions, but no one played with her at recess. She didn’t have any friends.
I reminded her that all of the other kids in her class probably felt as shy as she did in wanting to introduce themselves, so maybe if she took the initiative to do it first others would follow suit. She agreed in a dubious way. She wanted to believe me, and yet the reality of her first day told her things could still go in the other direction.
Seven had a similar experience on her second day, but I had a gut feeling that something had clicked in her head. On Wednesday Seven worked up the courage to talk to two of her classmates, and yesterday she bounded into the car after school.
“Today I made two friends,” she announced happily, adding the names of the two girls who had played with her on Wednesday.
“Do you know how many friends I made at school today?” Five asked somewhat dourly.
“Don’t worry, [Five,] you’ll start making friends too,” Seven said in an encouraging voice. She tactfully changed the topic and asked her little sister about the rest of Five’s first day of school, which for Five was yesterday.
I couldn’t help smiling at Seven using her own personal experience to help her younger sister, and as we go through this school year with both of them at different schools I hope they can continue to share their experiences with one another.
Because Seven’s school here in Illinois is much bigger than her school in Salt Lake City, every day this week my husband has walked Seven into the school and to her classroom. On Wednesday he told her to lead the way, letting her try to figure out how to get to the classroom by herself but following behind her to make sure she got where she needed to go.
Last night at dinner, bolstered I’m sure by her successful encounter with her two new friends, Seven announced that she wanted to walk to her classroom all by herself.
“Just open the [car] door and I’ll unbuckle the seatbelt and walk to the door by myself. It’s an easy way.”
I hesitated for just a minute before agreeing to let her go by herself. I know it’s important for me to show her that I feel just as confident as she does about her attempts at handling her own responsibilities, but I can’t help hesitating. Seven is my firstborn, my first baby, and everything with her—including trusting her to handle her own responsibilities—is a first.
I give Seven a lot of credit for making this decision on her own, however, and I hope I can continue to encourage her in these baby steps she takes to grow up a little at a time. I just hope she doesn’t do it too fast.