Newsletter, Olivia

Month 66

Dear Olivia,

As I was glancing through some pictures of you, I couldn’t get over how much you have grown up lately.  Somewhere along the line, you took the leap from preschooler to big kid and I can’t help but feel a little melancholy about this.  WHERE DID THE TIME GO?!?  As I was watching you at swim practice complete nearly two laps of breaststroke, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the first time I took you swimming.  At the time we lived in Pleasant Hill and there was a public swimming pool not too far from our house.  I dressed you in the most adorable one piece bathing suit–blue with an attached skirt with a pattern of tiny umbrellas.  You were just eight months old and just so tiny.  I gently carried you in to the shallow water where I held you tight for fear that you would somehow slip from my arms.  As the coolness of the water and the breeze hit you, I remember this giant gasp of air you took in but you didn’t cry.  You were fascinated by the kids jumping and screaming around us.  You giggled as the water bounced off the walls and tickled your tiny toes.  I was a little daring with you that afternoon–as I noticed how receptive you were to the water, I decided to take you with me under the water.  Don’t worry about long term brain damage, you were only under for a brief couple seconds.  Afterwards, I bundled you up in your stroller for the walk back and I still remember that lovely little face of yours looking back at me with such content and love.  Ugh, please don’t grow up any more.  I really don’t think my heart can handle it yet I know what we’re in store for.

In addition to you looking more grown up, obviously you’re acting differently.  I forget how difficult it was to be a kid.  Sure, being an adult has major pains and responsibilities but we have experience to back our issues.  Kids are new to everything and between your dad and I always telling you no, I’m sure life can feel downright impossible sometimes.  You struggle a great deal with social dynamics.  You were always the child at the playground looking out at all the kids playing with each other.  It always took you a great deal of time to build up the confidence to talk to another child.  Even if you see a friend from school somewhere, it still takes a lot for you to work up the strength to talk to them.  Perhaps it is this turmoil within you–your desire to belong, that makes you go overboard when you do make a friend.  Ever since you started preschool, you have had this strange notion that you can only have one very best friend.  As much as your dad and myself try to explain to you that we can have lots of friends, somehow the stories get lost in translation because there I am, getting reports from your teacher that you’re excluding such and such person or that person.  You become so obsessed with these friends that you talk about them constantly and you plan outings with them without my knowledge.  The past couple weeks have been rough when I pick you up from school only to have Noe come running up to me to exclaim that you invited her over to our house for a sleepover on a school night.  As I calmly explain to both you and Noe that a sleepover will not be happening, you scrunch up your face, trying to hold back every single tear and stare me down with the most hate and sadness I can’t ever imagine a five year old having.  You do your best to maintain your composure in front of your friends, only to unleash a storm of hysterical crying and screaming in the parking lot.

How do I explain to a five year old girl who loves her friend so much that she wants to spend every waking moment with them that no, a sleepover or a playdate cannot happen every afternoon.  This has been the source of our arguments lately and quite honestly, I really didn’t think I would be having these disagreements until you were a preteen.  I blame myself for going along with Noe’s mom’s request to have you two play together every Tuesday after school.  Little did I know I would be unleashing a beast.  I do my best to explain to you that playdates are special and require careful planning between the parents and on the matter of sleepovers, hell no!  I don’t know these kids and if I get exhausted after two hours in the afternoon with them, I’m sure as hell not going to be able to deal with their late night antics.  I explained that sleepovers were more of an activity for a 7 year old.  Yes, that’s my parenting nugget.  Why 7?  I don’t know but that’s where I draw the line in the sand.  So now you follow me around the house asking me if you’re 7 yet.  It’s moments like these that make me hide in the pantry while I hear you two walking around the house, asking for my whereabouts.  I typically don’t answer for upwards of ten minutes, depending on my afternoon with you two.  I felt like I made some progress with you when I heard you respond to your friends request to come over for a sleepover and you replied, I can’t–gotta wait until I’m 7.  I was so proud and relieved.  That is until later that day at theater class when you said hello to another girl and that was apparently kindergarten talk for you’re my bestie for life–hold my hand and follow me everywhere.  After class, you ran up to me and introduced me to your new friend by saying, this is my new best friend.  Can she spend the night?  Some times there are no words for moments like that.  Tears yes, words no.

You must be asking yourself, theater class?  Yes, I enrolled you in theater class.  Kinderdrama to be precise.  You are wonderfully dramatic and it was high time we put this to good use.  I’m not so concerned whether you continue on with drama but if it gives you the confidence you need to not be such a basketcase around people, then it’s money well spent.  There’s actually quite a few kids in your class, fifteen maybe?  The first couple classes were spent doing theater exercises and starting next week, you’ll be preparing for an actual performance that you will put on for an audience on the last day of class.  After you heard the announcement from your teachers that you were going to be in a play, you proudly proclaimed that you were going to be Elsa.  Sorry kid, no Frozen here.  You seem to thoroughly enjoy yourself in class and you’re clearly very interested in what your teachers have to say because when you’re home and it’s too loud, you belt out, a hush fell over the crowd, husshhhhh.  Apparently an effective way to get the kids to zip it in class.  Seeing how effective that technique was in class, I tried using it on Miles.  He stared blankly at me for a few seconds and then continued on with his tantrum.  He will not be in theater class.

With summer quickly approaching, we have to already plan every square inch of our summer.  If you want to do something that’s not already scheduled, you’ll have to wait until end of October.  You are signed up for your first swim team and I will make sure we embarrass you with everything we have.  Continuing on with the theme of being an active family, while your dad participated in the Livermore half marathon, I decided to sign both you and Miles up for the kids race.  It was a one mile race and I can proudly declare that both you and Miles ran the entire mile without stopping.  Sure, you were motivated by the fact that I told you if you finished, there would be a medal and doughnut waiting for you at the finish line.  Throughout the whole mile, you were panting, complaining of your side starting to hurt but through every other breath you choked out, am I still getting my doughnut?  What really made the event was you and Miles getting the exact same medal as your dad.  Usually they make the medals for the big event slightly different to honor the degree of difficulty.  Clearly that wasn’t the case this time.  Since this was an event paired with wine, you also received a complementary wine glass because in this family, that’s completely acceptable.  Your run finished with just enough time to cheer on dad at the finish line with your homemade signs.  You and Miles have definitely taken a liking to running and now ask constantly if you can run again for another medal.  Looks like your dad has some competition now.

We are but months away from your preschool graduation and here I am getting all sentimental again thinking about it.  We were originally going to have you do a mini session of summer school at your preschool but just decided to allow you to take a break from academics.  We did decide to send you to a Montessori school for your Kindergarten year and I’m actually very satisfied and comfortable with our decision.  I brought you with me to return paperwork and it allowed you to take a tour of your future class and to get a feel for what to expect when you start school.  You were very quiet and curious as you strolled around the class–picking everything up and looking at everything closely.  After watching you explore for roughly ten minutes, you turned to me and with a big smile proclaimed how excited you are for Kindergarten.  I’m confident you will do well and I’m hopeful it will be a good fit for you.  If not, I can always try again with Miles.  That’s why it’s always important to have a spare.  Parenting is all about trial and error and I really emphasize error.  If you’re not comfortable with making mistakes, being humiliated, or going to the bathroom with an audience, parenting is surely not for you.  There are those little moments though–holding your daughter in the swimming pool for the very first time–these little moments that stick with you and somehow make it seem like everything will be ok.  How can something so small and lovely not turn out ok?  It will be ok.  You will be ok.  I will be ok.  Miles?  Always have a spare.

Love,

Momma

You, according to my phone:

 

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