Thursday, November 19, 2009

Snapshots Of Their Development

Yesterday was one of those perfect days I'll want to refer to when my children have children and I can say, "Little kids are just sunshine and laughter all day. I never felt like it was work." (Lucky for them they have this blog and they'll be able to refer to all of my missteps and flailings with textbook accuracy.)

But still. Yesterday. Trevor let me sleep in until nearly 8 a.m., and after a very big rush (WE HAVE TO BE AT SCHOOL AT 8:45 WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?), Berit and I set off to school to spend the morning there together. One of the good things about her preschool is that every day two parents work in the school with the teacher, so the teacher has extra hands and eyes, and the kids really get to know the parents (and vice-versa). Lots of the parents in the class have become good friends of ours, so it's especially nice that both we and the kids have a common story.

Yesterday was one of my days to volunteer, and it was so good to be with Berit and her classmates for the morning. I'll admit that being "play parent" is a bit of a sleepy role. You are tasked with playing with the kids, which sounds like it could be adventurous but really the kids tend to play well and with each other, and you're left standing around like, really, couldn't I file something for you?

Standing around gave me the chance to really scope out the kids in Berit's class. You know, to compare Berit's skill level at, say, connecting train tracks, to that of the other kids' skill levels. I don't know about you, but at home we get a whole lot of "Ohmygoshshe'ssosmart" from my mom and sister, and I tend to think so, too. But I have to say that I got a reality check at preschool, because she really is acting her age. She's still 3 1/2 and she's in the "age 4" class, so most of the kids are either 4 or 4 1/2, and the difference between them is obvious. She's very well-behaved and joins in on everything and answers just as many questions and plays just as many games. But, for example, she and I were playing a board game with a 4-year-old boy, and when we rolled the dice he could look at it and say, "six." Berit had to count the dots on the dice before she knew it was six. Another student and I were building train tracks and the little girl was determined to figure out a way to make them all connect, and Berit couldn't last that long. Little things, but it was important for me to see because we've been wondering what to do with her next year. Do we send her to another year of preschool at age 4 1/2, or do we send her to developmental kindergarten? Most days we know she'd be happy going to school all week, and she truly does thrive in a preschool environment. That's why we considered DK -- five days of basically preschool with an emphasis on learning, which was appealing to us. But maybe she won't be ready -- probably she won't be ready. And I know the trend lately is to keep children back a year if you have the option, and I understand the reasoning behind that. We simply thought she might be able to handle it and, most importantly, we thought she might enjoy it more than a third year of preschool. We'll see.

Later that afternoon Carrie Novak came over -- to my girls' complete delight -- to take our family photos. You know how some people have a knack with children, even if they're just sitting on the floor? Well she does, and even Marta's sour mood disappeared the minute she walked in the door. Both girls performed for her, and she never even got the chance to get out a backdrop. It was all twirl, grin, leap, show off, change clothes, pose, jump, look adorable. We had a great time and when she left, Trevor and I looked at each other (relatively nicely dressed, considering how we usually look/feel at 4:30 p.m.) and at the girls (impossibly cute in their thick new sweaters and neat hair -- Marta's second day pulling off pigtails!) and decided to take the party to dinner at the Chinese restaurant in Boyne City.

The girls were fantastic, eating rice with giant soup spoons and munching on sweet-and-sour vegetables. They got a kick out of their fortunes which were giggly appropriate for them (Berit's: You should continue the conversation you're currently having. She takes forever to make a point. Marta: You would prosper in the medical field. We often say she'll need to be a doctor to stitch herself up after an adventure).

We drove home with Mary Poppins playing behind us, completely satisfied that we had had a Great Day.

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