Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dear Gwen: Month Sixty-Seven

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

If I could pick one theme that describes this past month, it would be "bumping".  Because this has been the month that your wonderful, quirky, creative, and crazy personality has been bumping into the constraints of the outside world.  In a way, I knew this would happen when kindergarten rolled around, but the fact that I expected it doesn't make it any clearer how I should help you address it.

Your parent-teacher interview was a few weeks ago.  Your teacher described you as "a really creative thinker," in a tone that made it clear this was NOT meant as a compliment.  She also noted that you are "VERY busy."  These things? Are not news to us.  But your creative thinking is AWESOME, and your busy mind and body come up with all kinds of unusual ideas, and I don't think that's something to fix.  This blog is full of stories of your creativity and out-of-the-box imagination - and here's one more!  A few weeks ago, when tidying up the front hall closet for a party, I asked you to take an armful of coats upstairs and put them on my bed.  You did so, and then asked me to come upstairs so you could show me what else you'd done - taken blankets off your own bed and laid them on the floor, so that I would still have a place to sleep now that my bed was covered in coats.  Creative thinking?  YES.  And that's what we love about you!

But your kindergarten teacher, I guess, does not so much love the creative thinking.  Because her job is to teach you (and 21 other little balls of energy) how to do a lot of important stuff, and she can't do that job when Gwen the Creative Thinker is disrupting her class.  So now we have to learn how to channel that creativity and quirkiness into appropriate times and places, so that you don't end up spending your years at school just sitting outside the principal's office.

You continue to love kindergarten madly, which is a blessing, and you adore your teacher.  All the same, I can see what kindergarten is taking out of you at the end of the day.  The most obvious place I see this is at our weekly piano class.  Whereas last year you had piano class after a day of preschool - an environment that made very few demands on you - this year, by the time you get to piano class you have had before-school care, full-day kindergarten, and after-school care, plus transitions in between each of these.  I think in particular it is very hard for you to transition from after school kids' club, which is a very busy and active environment where you can engage in a lot of free play, to a music lesson where you must sit and listen and bring your attention to a range of directed tasks - especially after you've put in a whole day of directed tasks at kindergarten.  It's just too much, and this is made clear when you sit at your piano with your hands on your lap and outright refuse to play.  (Note: you do this only at class, not at home.)  Your dad and I are not sure how best to proceed (especially since we've already signed a contract and a raft of post-dated cheques for this year's piano lessons), but it seems obvious that if we don't support some kind of change, soon you will want to quit altogether, and that is not what we want.  I have a strong hunch that private lessons would be easier for you to handle at this point - if the piano class was not full of five other busy kids and their parents, you might be able to focus more - and that is something we are looking into.  In the meantime, your Christmas recital is in a few weeks, and hopefully it will boost your confidence and remind you of the good parts of piano playing.

Lest you think this past month has been all struggle and strife, let me describe some of the more excellent activities we've enjoyed.  We went to a Spooktacular Science Race put on by NS3, an organization in Nanaimo who is trying to build a Science Centre for kids.  The event was great fun, with participants wearing costumes and making their way through our beautiful wooded Bowen Park to find several science stations with neat demonstrations and stuff to learn.  All three of us had a great time. 

Then it was time for Halloween!  As you had planned for almost a full year before, you dressed up as a Rapunzel firefighter.  You got the idea for a 'mash-up' costume thanks to Uncle Mikey's birthday party last year, where he encouraged his guests to come as a mash-up of two concepts or characters.  This stuck with you, and you decided to combine your love of Rapunzel with your desire to help people - thus, Rapunzel firefighter.  You also told anyone who would listen that this was not just your costume, but is also what you want to be when you grow up.  I don't know if people knew quite what to make of it all, but you had a great time and that's what counts!

Our next fun event was an Open House at the Nanaimo Hatchery.  We attended with some friends and saw a fish being dissected (this did not gross you out in the slightest, and you were super excited to touch every single one of the fish's organs).  You also got to do some artwork, take a fry to the water, and (hopefully) learn a thing or two about the salmon's life cycle.  Good (educational) times for all.

The following weekend, you and I went to the Lower Mainland for a visit to some of our friends.  We got to spend two days and nights hosted by your friend Rachel and her parents in their beautiful new home.  Rachel is not quite two, but you played with her really well.  There was this amazing moment when Rachel - who, understandably, was having trouble sharing her toys - took one of them right out of your hand.  You looked at her sharply, and I saw you draw in your breath to address the problem - and then, quick as a blink, I saw you decide to let it go.  I saw you understand that Rachel is littler than you, that she doesn't understand sharing yet, and that it was harder for her than for you, and you chose to let her have that toy and go find yourself another one.  I have NEVER been so proud of you as I was at that moment, my Gwen, and I let you know it, too.

You and Rachel had lots of fun times together - colouring, playing Hide and Seek, swimming, and going on forest walks.  We even got to eat dinner at your favourite restaurant, Boston Pizza!  After two nights at Rachel's house, we said our goodbyes and drove to Breana's house, where we got to meet her new little brother, Connor.  You and Breana played really well together in her room while I got to visit with her mom, which was very fun for all of us.  Then we got back on the ferry and came back home.  What a great trip!

This past weekend was a whirlwind as well - you went to birthday parties at Jumpin' Jiminy's TWO DAYS IN A ROW and then spent today at the VIU Festival of Trees Family Day event with your friend Lily. Predictably, this did not wear you out at all, whereas I could happily pass out right this minute. 

I love that you're a creative thinker, my Gwen, and I love all the energy you bring to life (even when it wears me out).  I can't imagine you any other way.  I love you, my girl, and am so proud to be your Mom.



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