Letter to Camille: 61 Months, Part 1

5 Year Old CamilleHappy 5 years and 1 month (plus a day or two) sweet bear! Today is the last day of your summer break – the last day before you turn into a kindergartener.

And what a crazy few days we’ve had. When we woke up Thursday morning, we were super excited that it was “open house day” at your school, and we were looking forward to meeting your teacher and seeing old friends. But then, I got a call that shook things up considerably.

First, a short digression. Your Daddy and I have long been fans of Montessori education, and this was reinforced when we sent you to a Montessori preschool at age 2 and you thrived. For both Pre-K and Kindergarten, we put your name in a lottery for a local public Montessori magnet school, but both times we were way down on the waiting list – 99th on the list for Pre-K, and 31st on the wait list for Kindergarten.

I was ok with this though, because our neighborhood school is wonderful and we felt lucky to be able to enroll you there. We all truly loved your Pre-K year and were looking forward to another school year there.

But then, the day of open house, four days before the first day of school, I got a call from the Montessori school. They had an opening for you if we still wanted it.

You’d think, having wanted to go to that school from the very beginning, that it would’ve been a no-brainer. But it wasn’t. Your Daddy and I really wrestled with the decision. You were so very happy at the neighborhood school and had made wonderful friends there, and we’d made great friends too among the tight-knit group of parents. We knew you’d get a good education at your neighborhood school. So should we move you, especially so late in the game?

Still on the fence, I went to the Montessori school to pick up paperwork. I found myself sitting in my car outside the school, bawling because I didn’t know what to do. Then I still had to go to the open house at the neighborhood school because I’d signed up to help, and I ended up running into the girls’ bathroom sobbing because it tore me up to see all your buddies back together again, so excited to start a new year together.

But in the end, we decided to go with our first instinct, which was to give the Montessori education a try. In addition to the teaching style we like, the school also goes through 8th grade, so that solved a big middle school question for us too.

When we told you about the change, you were not happy. In fact, you informed us you’d decided not to change schools. When we told you that you didn’t have a choice, you were very quiet and somber for a long time. You loved your school. You loved your friends. It was heart breaking.

I needed to do something to make us all feel better. Your new school mascot is a bobcat, so that day I placed an online order for a toy stuffed bobcat and had it overnighted to the house. You have an overwhelming number of stuffed animals, and we usually fight the addition of any more plush pets to the mix. But this moment called for an exception.

Friday was open house day at the new school, and I was desperately hoping it would be a good experience but steeling myself for the worst. We got to school and pushed through the crowded halls to find room 12 and Ms. Lauren. It was an adorable room, with many of those familiar Montessori tools I remembered from preschool. And Ms. Lauren seemed very nice and approachable. Best of all, you walked around the room with a huge smile on your face, and that did so much to lift our spirits. 

Shortly after we got home, this little package arrived. You named her Bobbie, and you love her.

With BobbieI know this has not been an easy change for you to accept, especially happening so close to the start of the school year. But I hope one day you’ll understand why we made the choice we did. Whether it was the right choice or not, I hope you’ll understand that we did it because we love you. Because we want what is best for you.

Thankfully, this weekend we’ve had the best sort of distraction from all this school stuff. Auntie Erin, Uncle Dave, Jones and Eli are here visiting for a few days. We’ve had a wonderful time together, and even got to take Jones for his first big boat ride, watching the dolphins swim up the Skidaway River and even taking a dip ourselves.

Jones on the BoatSay CheeseThe Windblown LookDriving the BoatIn the RiverHolding a Sleeping EliSmilesThere are so many other things I wanted to write about in this letter, but the school situation has taken over most of my mental real estate right now. So I decided to split your letter into parts, because I still need to tell you about your birthday, about your first pet (!!), and more.

But for now, we’re getting ready to head to your favorite restaurant, The Crab Shack, with two of your favorite cousins. I’ll write again soon, my love.

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