Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dear Gwen: Month Sixty-Four

Dear Gwen,

Today you are sixty-four months old.  This is your last newsletter as a preschooler; in only a few short days, you will officially be a ‘kindergartener’!

You are pretty excited about school, and I feel like the past two months of summer camp have done a lot to prepare you for the new adventures ahead.  You seem to be so much more a big kid than you were in June.  You can now use a public washroom alone, including locking and unlocking the stall door; you can look after your own backpack and assembled possessions all day (with, I’m sure, thoughtful reminders from your camp leaders); you can walk up to an unknown child, introduce yourself, and initiate shared play.  Kindergarten, here you come!
You have always been pretty keen on maintaining your independence, but that desire for competence has become an intense need in the past few weeks.  You crave being able to do things for yourself, whether it’s putting your shoes on, tidying up your books, or feeding your new fish, Little Blue.  And yes, I put this drive to work by asking you to do chores from time to time: setting the table, putting away your laundry, putting away groceries.  Though you have always been determined, I see a new ability in you to stick with a challenging task and not give up in frustration, as well as the ability to ask for help (‘help’ meaning ‘describe the steps to this task in words, DO NOT EVEN try to put your hands on it and do it for me) when you are stuck.  It’s pretty amazing and I can’t help thinking that these skills, if maintained, will serve you well through your entire life!
Last month you and I went to our family cabin on the lake for a long weekend with Grannie and Grandpa, and you were determined to show your independence there too.  We had already gone for approximately forty-five pedal-boat rides, and I was getting out of the boat and about to help you tie it up, when the boat floated out of my reach – with you in it.  I tried to explain to you how to steer and pedal it back towards the dock, but by the time you managed this I realized that you were actually pretty capable of handling the boat yourself.  You were wearing a lifejacket, the water was less than fifteen feet deep, and I trusted you to holler if anything went awry.  The rest of the weekend was much more enjoyable for both of us, as you got to ride the pedal-boat as much as you liked, and I got to sit on the deck and watch you as much as I liked.  The addition of the neighbour’s beautiful and personable golden retriever who just wanted you to throw balls for her all day, something you were all too happy to do, made for a marvelous holiday – you and Molly kept each other wonderfully busy!

It was just last month I remember remarking to another parent that I’d been singing you the same sleepy songs every night since you were only a few months old, and that the time couldn’t be far away when you would decide those songs were too babyish for you.  Well, the time has come!  After a few nights when you requested no sleepy songs whatsoever, I thought to mention to you that I could sing other songs, not just simple lullabies about the moon and sheep and water.  So now, you get to request whatever songs you like at bedtime!  Your current favourites are two songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: Benjamin Calypso ( and One More Angel in Heaven. (  Best part?  You sing along.  Ending every day by singing with you is pretty awesome!
You have started going to karate, which you absolutely adore.  Unlike any other activity in your life, when you get home from karate you tell me ALL ABOUT IT WITHOUT ME EVEN ASKING.  Every other activity it’s like pulling teeth to try and get you to share your experiences, but with karate you are BURSTING to tell me what happened that day!  And in just the few weeks since you started, you have already learned a lot – I know, because you tell me so!  After your first class, you told me about your favourite game, and how you were eliminated in the first round (the game involves moving around the dojo and then ‘freezing’ quickly when the Sensei calls “Hajime!”).  Your next class, you told me you had been eliminated after a few rounds.  The next week, you made it almost to the last round.  And this past week, you told me you were the second-to-last person to be eliminated!  Amazing!  You were so excited when Dad took you to get your uniform so that you could look like the other kids in class, and you love to show me your kiai (that’s when you get to yell at the same time that you punch or kick).  You are obviously very keen on karate, and of course your Japanophile Dad could not be more proud!

Some other big adventures this past month include seeing the Snowbirds doing an aerial display over Nanaimo, watching the RCMP Musical Ride, and going to the Comox Air Show with your dad, Grandpa, and “Excellent Uncle Rick” (isn’t that a more fun term than ‘Great Uncle’?).  It’s pretty neat that you are at an age to enjoy and appreciate all these events, and I really love sharing them with you (though I was more than happy to skip the air show and have a day to myself with an empty house – ahhh!).  Hanging out with you is more fun all the time as you become more mature and interesting, and we get to have some really cool conversations.

One fascinating conversation we had recently demonstrates the side of your personality most people don’t get to see – your calm, thoughtful side.  Most people see your energetic, fun-loving side – it’s obvious, and it’s almost always on.  But there is another side to you, where you think very deeply about things, and want to understand how things are going to work, and how you fit in to it all (so much like me!).  Recently, we got a letter in the mail from your new elementary school, that included a questionnaire about your likes, dislikes, habits, knowledge, etc.  This is all part of the kindergarten entry process and the information from the questionnaire, as well as an interview we will attend with your potential teachers, will be used to determine which class and teacher you end up with.  A couple of the questions, “What are your child’s favourite stories?”, and “What activities does your child enjoy?” I decided to ask you directly rather than try to guess.  So I explained what the questionnaire was and who it was from and what it was for, and asked you about favourite stories and activities.  You gave me good answers, but you also saw that there were lots of other questions on the sheet.  You wanted to know what they were.  And you saw that I had already written a lot of words.  And you wanted to know what I’d written.  So there I was, reading the whole questionnaire to you, listening to your own thoughts and ideas about discipline and group participation and obedience.  It was REALLY eye-opening!  The last question was, “Do you have any concerns or questions about kindergarten?” and Gwen answered, “Yes.”  “What question do you have?”  “I want to know, will there be any time when I just get to play and do what I want?”  What a GREAT question!  After I assured you that there would be, and marveled inwardly at your thoughtfulness, you asked another important question: “What toys do they have?” I guess we’ll get to find out pretty soon!

You have started to be a lot more interested in printing lately, and will often ask me how to spell a certain word so that you can print it out.  You have been printing a lot of things that say “I <3 a="" again="" agreed="" also="" battleships.="" bedtime.="" ce="" chapter.="" couple="" cream.="" do="" entire="" evening="" have="" lists="" names="" nbsp="" of="" on:="" on="" or="" part="" plans="" printed="" s="" span="" that="" them.="" there="" thoughtful="" times="" to="" u="" various="" want="" we="" what="" with="" you="" your="">

Well Gwen, it’s been an amazing month and I feel so excited to help you into kindergarten in the coming weeks.  It feels like your life is about to change and grow in new directions and I can’t wait to see what’s next.  I love you always, a million billion kajillion and five!


PS Bonus pictures!


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