Monday, July 20, 2015

Dear Gwen: Month Eighty-Seven

Dear Gwen,

Holy moly, didn't that month just fly by? You are eighty-seven months old, summer is in full swing, and we are DAYS away from moving to our new house. Life is crazy and time is flying by!

Last month we took a brief trip to the Lower Mainland to enjoy Playland and Science World. You surprised us a lot with the rides you did (and didn't) want to go on at Playland. Last time we went - you were just four years old - you rode on the kids' roller coaster dozens of times in a row. In my memory, I sat on a nearby bench for nearly an hour while you got your fill of this ride. This time around, you rode it twice and were done, instead obsessing about the nearby giant slide, which I think you went on about fifteen times throughout the day. Despite a LOT of urging from your parents, you flat-out refused to ride the Music Express, or any other grown-up ride (other than the Ferris wheel). Oh well. Grannie watched you for a bit on the kiddie rides so Dad and I could do a few grown-up rides by ourselves. Anyway, we had a lot of fun!

The next day we went to Science World with our friends Sally, Dean, Rachel, and Matilda. You only see these friends a couple of times a year, but Sally and I are always so impressed with how well you play with Rachel. This trip was no different. You are so patient with her and so happy to be with her. I hope you always keep that empathy and appreciation for others. Our time at Science World was too short - we only got to see about a third of the exhibits - so we'll have to go back again soon for a full day of fun exploration.

Your Grade One year is officially over, and your final report card again showed some good improvements. You are ready to start Grade Two at your new school in a couple of months. At one point, you were worried that you would have to start over in kindergarten at a new school, but I was able to reassure you that your new teachers would know how smart and awesome you were, and that you had already finished kindergarten AND Grade One. I think you still have a lot of nervousness about the new school, but we are doing everything we can to help you feel better, and to be honest, I really feel that once you have been there for a week or two, you will be absolutely fine. Last year's experience in the Friendship Group has really, really helped you in your social skills, and you've improved so much. We really saw this improvement when we dropped you off for your first day at summer camp this year. Last summer, certainly on the first day (or any Monday) but also on any random day throughout the summer, you were paralyzed with fear and shyness when we tried to peel ourselves away from you and leave you with the camp leaders. This year, your goodbyes to us on the first day of camp were breezy, casual, and brief. Wow! In fact, this year - at your request - I signed you up for two DIFFERENT summer camps, so you are doing a few weeks here, a few weeks there, back and forth, etc. Which amounts to TWO different groups of campers, leaders, routines, and expectations for you to navigate and acclimatize to. And ..... no problem. No tears, no drama, no shyness. You have REALLY come a long way, and seeing you feeling so much more comfortable in these new settings gives me a lot of faith in your ability to adapt to your new school setting as well.

Speaking of summer camp, whoa Nellie do they keep you busy there! A typical day at your current camp includes three major activities (e.g. Express Yourself Craft, Concert in the Park, and Fairview Playground) as well as group time, free time, and icebreaker activities. You come home BEAT. It's kind of a nice treat for us, because during the school year it is often a battle to get you to sleep at a reasonable hour, but there are no bedtime battles after summer camp. Your leaders tell us you often fall asleep on the bus on the way home from various activities, and you are still quite ready to go down for a solid night's sleep when bedtime comes around. By the time summer camp ends, you'll have a trampoline in your yard, so hopefully you can continue to wear yourself out when school starts!

A week or so ago at summer camp, you reached an important milestone in every kid's life: your first bee sting! You were at camp, about to get on the bus to go to the swimming pool, and a bee landed on your arm, unnoticed. When you put your arm down against your body, the bee got scared and stung you. Your camp leader called me to tell me what happened, which I appreciated, because having never been stung before we weren't sure if you would have any kind of reaction. Another reason she called, she told me, was because you wanted to talk to me. Again, never having been through it before, you just weren't sure how much of a big deal it was and what we needed to do next. I told you that you would be fine, it would stop hurting in a few minutes, and that it was completely fine to carry on with your day and go swimming with your summer camp friends. I asked the leader to keep an eye on you and let me know if anything changed, but you were fine and by the end of the day I think you were kind of proud of your war wound.

A couple of weeks ago you got to participate for the first time in Grandkids University, a really cool program here at VIU where kids get to attend a two day "major" with their grandparents and earn a "degree". You and Gramma Karen attended "Amazing Clay" and made some cool creations, including getting to use the pottery wheel for the first time and seeing a Raku firing. You also learned the history of clay, which you happily recited to me that evening. I think you had a really good time, and you were definitely proud of yourself - you've already told a few of your friends that you went to University. I hope you will come back and try another major next year! Maybe Grannie or Grandpa would like a turn to attend with you.

Speaking of Grannie and Grandpa, we went to visit them in their new(ish) house on Canada Day, when they threw an enormous Housewarming/Canada Day BBQ. There were over 60 people in and out of the house throughout the day! I was glad we got to be part of it, if only for a few hours, before getting back on a ferry so we could go to work the next day. You got to see your cousins Andrew, Kiera, and Hannah as well, which you loved. Grannie and Grandpa's new house is so great for visiting in, and it's so great that there is room for so many people to stay the night. You are looking forward to your time there with them next month - you insist that you'll be brave enough to spend a whole week there without me, so we'll see how that goes! I'm glad you're so excited about spending time with your grandparents, and I'm sure they will spoil you rotten (as is their privilege!).

With our move just a few days away, life at our house has become intensely hectic. Whenever we are at home, we are packing, which to your perspective means taking away everything that you love and enjoy. It's true, I have packed all your books, toys, and games, and almost all of your clothes. But I'm not the meanest mom in the world - your books and stuffies are in an open box that you can access anytime; you got to choose a few special games to leave out; and your bookshelves are well-stocked with books you've borrowed from the library, with my promise to take you back any time you like to get new ones. I don't want you to be totally deprived, and I definitely don't want you to not be able to read! But at the same time ... yeah, eventually we've gotta pack that stuff. And what you may not totally realize, because you haven't been through this before, is that YOU WILL GET IT ALL BACK. In just a few more days, all these dozens (let's be serious - hundreds) of boxes will arrive at our new house, and we will get to open them all up and find homes for all these wonderful beloved items that we've missed so much. It's not forever, my Gwen! Just hang in there a little while longer and I PROMISE things will get so much better!

Somehow, in amongst all the packing, we have found some time for some summer fun. We've had some playdates with friends, including finally getting to meet another family from your new school/neighbourhood. You've spent time at playgrounds and at the McDonald's playroom (ahhhh, air conditioning). You've gone to a friend's birthday party at the swimming pool and we've gone to the Sunset Cinema outdoor movie, Big Hero 6. Although it can be challenging to "steal" this time away from our endless packing, I'm glad we've done that, because this is your summer vacation and it needs to be about more than just this move.

Well, I guess that's it for now, my Gwen. Thanks for being such an awesome kid. We love you a million, billion, kajillion, and seven.


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