Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear Gwen: Month Sixty-One

Dear Gwen,
Today you are sixty-one months old.

You have been five for a whole month now, and you LOVE it.  You never miss an opportunity to tell people how old you are, injecting it into the conversation as the whim strikes you.  As for me, I love that you are five!  Somehow you have become even more imaginative, curious, creative, and brilliant.  You recently received one of the very first Goldie Blox toys ever manufactured, and you are crazy about this toy.  One night, you were playing with this toy and someone was reading you the accompanying book.  “Then she found a nervous Nacho / Who was not looking quite so macho.”  You looked at the matching “Nacho” toy (he’s a dog), and asked, “Does he look macho?”  
“What do you think ‘macho’ means, Gwen?”  I inquired.  You thought for a minute.  
“I think it means nervous.  NO.  I think it means, the OPPOSITE of nervous.”  Wow!  Excellent comprehension skills there!

We started (and completed) our very first chapter book this month – Roald Dahl’s “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory”.  It was pretty fun for all of us to read this with you, and it definitely changed our bedtime routine – now instead of nagging and pleading to get you ready for bed, you are nagging and pleading us to read an extra chapter!  (And you often get your wish.)  We have several other chapter books on loan from the library right now, so you can have your pick of which one we read next.  (Update: you chose, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz".)

Our bedtime routine has morphed a little bit in the past months, so maybe I should make note of it here.  Because most of the time it is only you and me home at bedtime, I’ve started giving you more independence at this time, so that I can clean up from dinner while you get ready for bed.  So your three bedtime tasks are to use the bathroom, to get your pajamas (including pull-up) on, and to put three books in your book basket.  (The book basket is a basket near your bed where you keep books that you want to ‘read’ before falling asleep.  I had to introduce the rule of having no more than three books, because otherwise you would stay up ‘reading’ all night long!)  Then I come to brush your teeth, read your bedtime chapter(s), say prayers and tuck you into bed.  You have seemingly grown out of wanting the meditation music you used to listen to before sleep, and use your reading time as a wind-down time, just like I do at my bedtime.

Your year of piano lessons is drawing to a close.  You have amazed me with all you have learned in the Music for Young Children program.  You can identify by writing or by key all the notes of the C scale – each note is a music friend, with an accompanying story.  You know your finger numbers.  You know your rhythms – hops, beavers, turtles, and sleepy pandas.  You can recognize repeats and quarter-rests.  You can read a grand staff.  You’ve even had a chance to compose your own song, an ode to your stuffed bunny Mr. Bun.  I think piano lessons have been amazingly good for you.  Even on those occasions when you get frustrated or discouraged, you have never suggested quitting.  And I think it’s wonderful that as you prepare to enter kindergarten, you have already had several experiences of not knowing how to do something, then having someone help you learn, then beginning to understand and practicing over and over, and finally feel capable and confident in the task.  This pattern is going to repeat hundreds and hundreds of times throughout your life, Gwen, and I think your being aware of that will serve you very well.  We definitely want you to continue with music classes next year!

This month also saw your first experiences with needlework.  When I added embroidered flowers to the sweater Grannie knitted you last year, you were fascinated by the process and even helped me a little bit.  So I started hunting for the type of ‘learning needlework’ kit I remember using as a child.  I was able to order a couple of kits from the local needlework boutique, The Stitcher’s Muse, and you were very excited to receive them!  So far you have not wanted to do more than about 5-10 minutes’ worth of work at a time, but that’s a pretty good stretch for a five-year-old attention span.  You really seem to enjoy working on your butterfly and although it can be a bit challenging to remember the mechanics of the work, your skills are coming along really well.  It would certainly make me happy if you continued to enjoy needlework, and will be one more hobby that you and I have in common!

Your interest in reading and writing has continued to grow, which is wonderful with kindergarten just around the corner.  You are very keen to have various words read out to you, and sometimes work on sounding them out yourself.  It’s great to see this curiosity grow.  You are also writing more words.  I hope you’ll write us another story soon!

I think I wrote last month that we went to see your first musical, when the local Christian school put on “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.  I think this was your first experience with seeing children your own age and older in a large-scale theatre production.  We talked a lot about it afterwards, and I encouraged you to understand that any kid (or adult) who wants to be in a play can audition, and practice, and learn their part, and then perform.  It helped to refer back to my own recent panto rehearsals: “Remember when I was in the play, and I had to go out all the time at night to go practice?  When I started practicing, I didn’t know my lines yet, or where to stand, or how to talk, or what to do.  Nobody did!  But the director helped us learn, and we all practiced together, and soon we all knew what to do.  And then we put on the show!”  As soon as you understood this, you told me you wanted to be Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”.  Great choice!  Since seeing “Joseph”, you have been singing the songs nonstop, which is pretty fun!

Another mind-opening experience we’ve had recently is that we got to go to BookFest for the first time.  BookFest is, essentially, a literacy convention for children.  Authors attend and put on panels, there are books and merchandise for sale, you can meet the authors and get your stuff autographed – some people even dress in costume.  We attended three author panels and we really enjoyed the event.  The highlight of the day (at least for me) was getting to meet author/illustrator Barbara Reid, who creates incredible illustrations out of plasticene.  We got her latest book autographed and you had your picture taken with her.  It was awesome!  At the end of the day I asked you what your favourite part about BookFest was – you said, “Everything!”

Well, that’s it for this month, Gwen.  It’s been another amazing month and I have a feeling the upcoming months are going to keep getting better and better.  Thanks for being such an incredible daughter.  I love you a million, billion, kajillion, and five, and am so glad to be your Mom!


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