Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dear Gwen: Month Eighty

Dear Gwen, 
Today you are eighty months old.

What is life with you like? Well ...

"Mrs. Claus doesn’t like Christmas. Know why? Because her husband doesn’t come home for dinner. She works hard making dinner and Santa doesn’t come home to eat it because he is out delivering the presents. So she doesn’t like it at all. She waits all day and night for him to come home. It’s not fair! And you know what else? He eats all the Christmas cookies that the kids leave for him, and he never brings any home to her! You know what we should do? We should make some special cookies and put them in a paper bag for Mrs. Claus."

The above is the sort of random-yet-logical story that bursts out of you on nearly a daily basis. You think A LOT. Now that I'm coming to better understand your ADHD, I think this is because you can think at four or five times the speed of 'ordinary' people, because you are always thinking about four or five things at a time. It makes for an interesting life.

You got your first term report card this month, and for the most part it confirms what we already knew - you are a very smart, very capable girl with some specific areas of difficulty. You are reading above your grade level, and are "meeting expectations" for writing, speaking, math, PE, social studies, and music. Most of the notes for "approaching expectations" (what used to be called "needs improvement") are under Personal and Social Development:
Is considerate and respectful of others; accepts learning challenges; cares for personal and school property; works and plays cooperatively with others; follows class and school rules and routines; works independently when necessary. Your biggest struggles are in "Uses appropriate strategies to resolve conflicts" and "maintains focus". We will be meeting with your teacher and your principal early in the new year to figure out how best to help you with these things.

You had your piano recital recently at your piano teacher's house. Unfortunately, it was a students-only recital so I (and all the parents) have to just imagine how it went (though your teacher said you did great). You played "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas", with bridges on your left hand. You are really enjoying piano still, and I'm really happy and proud of you for continuing with it.

Dad and I didn't have to miss out on your school Christmas concert. Your class and another class were dressed up in charming aprons and chefs' hats to sing "Christmas Goodies" and "Yummy Yummy Christmas". It was a blast! Having learned our lesson last year, we were able to strategize more effectively and actually get seats that allowed us a view of the stage. We still could barely see you - being somewhat taller than other kids, you're always in the back row, but the chefs' hats blocked the back rows completely. Even more than watching your performance, I loved watching the cliche moments when you first came on the stage, looking around the audience with a big frown on your face until you spotted us, and then waving enthusiastically. You crack me up, kid.

Speaking of your Christmas concert, I should tell you that earlier this month, you told me that you would have preferred to sing a solo at the concert instead of singing with all those other kids. I told you that if every kid got a solo, the concert would be five hours long, but I encouraged you to ask your music teacher as well, just so you could hear the same answer from someone else. I was proud that you did ask her, and that you didn't lose your mind when she told you no. Better luck next year.

We also had our annual English Family Christmas this month held at my cousin Mike's house. I was pretty sick that weekend and so didn't take any pictures, but I can tell you that you had a terrific time playing with your cousins and opening presents. I was really glad we made the trip even though I had the plague (and lost my voice halfway through the weekend). I do have to mention, though, that when we got back to our hotel room to go to sleep, you had an enormous meltdown/crying fit for about thirty minutes. Hi, overstimulated child! Welcome to the Christmas season!

We took the opportunity to go to the Rogers Santa Claus Parade the next day; it was really neat that you got to go with your cousins. I expected the parade to be SUPER UH-MAZING but really, it wasn't all that much better than most of the parades we see here on the Island. Which gives me a weird sense of pride that actually, we Islanders have got some pretty great parades!

This past weekend we went to the annual Christmas panto at NTG, "Pirates of the Panto". This is the fourth year you have attended the panto, and you enjoy it every year. On the other hand, about halfway through the first act, you were losing your mind and begging to leave. I think this is a combination of factors: first, you had been looking forward to the panto for weeks, and had worked yourself up into a frenzy; second, the villain was menacing and grouchy; and the combination of these made you into crazy overstimulated child again. You were bouncing in your seat and begging to go home. "We can't leave until the intermission," I said, "So just deal with it until then." By the time the intermission came around, and with some helpful pep talks from your dad, you were engaged in the story and curious about what would happen next, so you no longer wanted to leave. Thank goodness, because neither your dad or I wanted to leave either! You then spent the next several days singing all the music from the show. So you did enjoy it after all, you just needed a bit of encouragement.

You got to do the Advent Reading for the fourth Sunday of Advent this year, and you were able to do the reading all by yourself, which was pretty cool. Your reading is quite amazing, and you seem to enjoy it more and more, which is wonderful. You allowed me to come up to the front with you and light the candle for you, but I bet next year you won't even let me do that for you.

Right before Christmas, we invited three of your friends over - Delaney, Rhyan, and Izzy - for a playdate. You had a big plan to watch a movie, but the four of you were way too wound up to do anything so sedentary. You did manage to sit on the couch, snuggled up in cozy blankets, just long enough to eat all the popcorn, but then it was time for something different. The four of you played Just Dance, made Christmas crafts, and had lots of fun being goofy together. A good way to blow off some steam.

As always, it's been a fun and sometimes frustrating month, and we continue to do our best at being your parents. We love you to the moon and back. Merry Christmas, my Gwen!


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