Happy Fifty Months big girl! I write this letter feeling much less anxious than I did one month ago, when you were on the verge of starting your elementary school career. Last month, you had your final day at the wonderful Montessori preschool where you’ve been a student for the past two years. You got a big hug from your favorite teacher, Miss Carrie, and insisted on a final swing on the monkey bars as we left the school.
Then suddenly, it was time. Time to put on a school uniform, a big girl backpack and start elementary school. I wished I felt as carefree as you looked in this photo on your first day. But I was a mess of nerves!
At school, you stopped to pose by the stone lions at the front door, then went happily into your classroom.
You drew a picture of a Totoro for me to take to work to keep me company, and I propped it up beside my laptop so I could see it all day.
I waited anxiously for the chance to pick you up and hear about your first day of school. You gave a good report, but looked utterly exhausted. Fortunately, a nearby restaurant serves up some good ice cream, so we stopped in for a scoop. We were joined by other school buddies, including sweet Lola from your pre-k class.
I knew the real test would come in the following days, and I wondered if you’d lose your enthusiasm. I’m happy to report that three weeks into the school year, you are doing SO WELL. We all are.
You occasionally tell me you don’t want to go, or that you wish school were like gymnastics class so I could stay in the balcony and watch (me too!). But thankfully, every day you are brimming with tales of your adventures and are so excited to share them with us. You no longer want to take your lunch (despite your prized Buzz Lightyear lunchbox), and love getting a school lunch, “like the big kids do.”
At first you told me you didn’t have any friends at school because you liked to play by yourself. You told me the other girls want to play kitty cats, but you don’t want to play kitties because your school mascot is a lion, and you’re a LION. But by the second week you started telling me about new buddies, and now I hear every day about how you love to play with Billy. Your teacher confirms that you two are close pals, and I’m glad you are making new friends.
Now that you’re big enough for big girl school, you’re also big enough to start a special daddy-daughter tradition. When I was in school, Granddaddy took me to breakfast one morning every week. Sometimes we’d talk, sometimes I’d read the comics while he read the rest of the paper, but it was always a special time. Now you and your Daddy have started the tradition and you both look forward to the outing all week. What a great Daddy you have, and what a fabulous pair you two make.
This last month hasn’t been only about school, although it did take up a lot of mental real estate in my head. We began last month in Oregon, where you had so many great experiences, like seeing the Pacific Ocean, learning to seesaw and admiring volcanoes. You loved looking for Mt. Hood, or “Mountain Hood” as you called it. We all enjoyed the cooler weather, although you showed your true southern roots. It was about 65 degrees with a cool breeze blowing and you told me it might snow. Then followed up with, “I wish you had brought my gloves.”
You were a super traveler on the plane, but unfortunately the final leg of our journey didn’t end well. A snack went down the wrong way and you had a coughing fit, and as we were taxiing to the terminal you threw up. You were quite a mess so we had to let you walk shirtless off the plane until we could access a change of clothes in our luggage. But you added levity to the situation as you danced down the aisle, feeling unencumbered, announcing, “People are going to be surprised because they don’t expect to see someone naked!” Indeed!
From the Pacific to the Atlantic, you were soon back in the Savannah heat and playing on the beach at Tybee Island. From the first time we ever took you into the ocean, you have not liked the waves. You can’t stand water in your face, and certainly don’t like being toppled by the surf. But this time, as I held your hand and you jumped the waves, you yelled triumphantly, “I don’t care if water gets in my face! I don’t care about the waves!”
I watched in amazement as you let yourself be tossed around in the shallow water and wondered if you’d truly overcome your fear. Then one wave
finally found its way to your face, and you ran out of the water screaming, “I CARE! I CARE!”
Silly girl. You really do keep us laughing, whether you mean to or not. I am so proud of the way you’ve handled all the big changes in your life this month, and am so happy to be along for the ride. I love you so much.