Newsletter, Olivia

Month 71

Dear Olivia,

This month has brought so many changes that my heart just aches thinking about them.  Changes that remind me that you’re growing up so fast and the little kid you once were, is now replaced by this tall, sarcastic, intelligent lady.  Kindergarten was something I was dreading since the day you started preschool three years ago.  People are often surprised that you’re not in first grade because you are very mature for your age.  I repeat the same story that you had made the cut-off for kindergarten by just a few days so we decided just to wait until you were closer to the age of six.  Truth is, I just wasn’t ready to have you start kindergarten last year.  Was I being selfish?  Absolutely but that’s my right as the parent.  I think you would have been just fine in kindergarten last year.  I, on the other hand, would be drinking heavily while looking at old baby pictures of you.  I may or may not be doing that now but that is beside the point.  The point is, you’re in kindergarten now and the inevitable can no longer be postponed.  You’re ecstatic about being in school and I don’t know what the Hell I’m doing with my life.

There was some uncertainty leading up to the first day of school–I had mentioned before that your dad and I really weren’t sure whether you would be attending the public school up the road or a private Montessori school in the next city over.  Ultimately we decided to send you to the Montessori school since our faith in the public education system leaves us rather concerned.  I’ve read so much literature on education that I’m not even really sure what I’m reading anymore.  I really like the school you’re attending however we’re all very new to the Montessori concept and there are a couple things we’re still getting acclimated to.  For instance, Montessori schools do not have specific grades per se.  Instead they have a primary classroom, which you’re in, which consists of children as young as three years old up to the age of six.  You’re the oldest child in your class and I believe there are only three other kindergarteners and the rest of the class consists of three and four year olds.  I’m a little disheartened by this because I really wanted you to have an opportunity to socialize with other kids your age.  You spend so much time with Miles that you really need a change of scenery.  Thankfully, you do like being the oldest because it means you can practice you’re authoritative persona.  Another minor problem is the astronomical cost of the school.  We may not eat but you will have a lovely education.

We’ve talked to so many people in our extensive research on education and we really can argue both sides.  I find it very interesting that the parents we speak to about the public school up the road have very conflicting views.  The parents who are from out of state are not very impressed–short school days, lack of extracurricular activities, strange interaction amongst teachers and parents.  The parents we talk to who grew up in California can’t say enough good things about the school.  All of this is leading me to believe that perhaps California as a whole, does not have very good public schools.  I’m confused.  I want to give you and Miles the best and it’s very difficult when we just can’t.  A friend of ours suggested that we send you to a public school and in turn save the tuition money we would have spent at the private school, and use that money for international travel or extensive extracurricular activities.  That is another option we’re entertaining.  Unfortunately, money does a great deal of the talking for us and ultimately will be a deciding factor in where you end up.  Right now you only attend school in the mornings because that’s what we can afford.  Of course your teacher has to suggest that you would get a lot more out of the program if you attend full day.  Cue sad music and me making a frowny face.

Since your education has left us eating ramen on a regular basis, I decided to put you and your brother to work.  You guys got modeling gigs.  It was a one time deal but you both got paid and I explained to both of you that you would only get paid if you cooperated and the cash would be yours and could be handled however you saw fit.  You immediately told us that you would be saving your money for when you’re an adult.  Wise girl.  Your brother on the other hand immediately demanded, WHERE IS MY MONEY?  GIVE IT TO ME NOW!  Like the saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted.

The editorial shoot is for a project that I can not speak about or else lightening will strike upon our house and we’ll suffer an excruciating demise.  Not really, I just signed a non-disclosure agreement.  The shoot took place in San Francisco and the biggest concern you had was regarding makeup.  You wanted no part in makeup, specifically lipstick.  As we’re driving in to the city, we notice huge clouds of billowing smoke on the horizon.  We exit in to the city and notice the streets are looking rather smoky.  At the street we’re supposed to turn down to arrive at our destination, we see that the street is blocked and at the end of the block are several fire trucks.  Helicopters are flying overhead, curious people are walking everywhere, oblivious to the cars that are still trying to maneuver around the city streets.  We’re in the Mission which is already a heavily populated area and now that there is a fire, the streets are deadlocked.  By some miracle, I decide to make a sudden u-turn to go back up the block and as I turn around, voila, a car pulls away from the curb leaving me with a prime parking spot.  I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried.

We arrive at the shoot and you immediately cling to me for fear of the lipstick that is waiting for you at the top of the stairs in the studio.  After some coaxing, I manage to get you in to the room where you have to sit on my lap and look at my phone while they apply makeup.  All the while, you’re groaning every time the brush touches your face.  I’m going to remember this moment because there will most likely come a time when makeup will consume you.  I’m not a big makeup person now but there was a time when I lived for going to Longs to scour the makeup aisle.  The packaging and the colors and the advertisements were the bulk of my preteen years.  I studied every sku like I was the damn cosmetics buyer.  I could riddle off every color in the Wet n Wild nail polish collection.  Seriously, it was a problem.

Once you were tormented enough with a light dusting of concealer, cheek tint and lip gloss, you made your way to wardrobe where suddenly the clouds parted and a smile appeared on your face.  From this point on, you enjoyed yourself.  You were smiling, dancing, jumping, twirling–having a blast.  Then suddenly I watched your face change.  You became very serious and suddenly wanted a lot of hugs from me.  Not really knowing what was going on, I just coughed it up to you just being tired.  Thankfully, that was the time the shoot ended.

 

To celebrate your first paying job, we went out to dinner.  Your pizza arrived and you began crying hysterically.  You know, nobody ever told me how dramatic children can be.  Having children is really like being a part of a really dramatic and very poorly written daytime soap opera.  The acting is really over the top and the dialogue makes no sense and you really can’t keep track of where the story is going.  That’s life with children in a nutshell.  I’m staring at you completely confused as to what is happening.  Did I order the wrong pizza?  Was it the tone of the waiter when he said, enjoy your meal?  Then you blurt out, I HAVE A WIGGLY TOOTH!  You then proceed to explain to us through tears that you discovered it while you were having your picture taken.  Suddenly the pieces start falling in to place.  I asked you why you didn’t tell us sooner and you said that you didn’t want us to get angry.  Listen, I’m a reasonable woman.  I think I have tolerated quite a bit of nonsense since you arrived in our lives.  You’ve destroyed a great deal of my property and yes, I have probably shown some level of discontent at this unfortunate behavior but we have a serious problem when you’re fearful to tell me about a problem with your body.

We were successful at talking you off a ledge by explaining to you that everything is perfectly normal.  You appeared to be comforted by our words and proceeded to eat your pizza.  Of course, I’m still a hot mess from you starting kindergarten and my state is oh so fragile right now so of course the idea of you losing your first baby tooth brings me to tears right there in BJ’s Brewhouse.  Do you have any idea how hard it was for you to get that first tooth?  That tiny tooth that kept us awake on so many nights.  The teething that left you covered in saliva for months straight.  The perfect little tooth that reminds me of the baby you once were.  And now you’re going to leave me.  That’s right, go on and leave your mother.  Take your adult teeth and go on with your life.  I’ll be moderately ok.

I discovered that you had some level of anxiety a couple months back near the end of swim team but I really didn’t understand the extent of it until you experienced your first wiggly tooth.  You have so many questions and concerns that I’m ready to jam my hand in your mouth and pull the damn thing out myself.  Everywhere we go, you ask me with a great amount of seriousness and urgency whether I will be prepared if your tooth comes out.  Do I have a bag to hold the tooth?  Do I have tissues in case there is blood?  Do I have a drink in my hand to handle the amount of questions being thrown at me?  When you went to school, you were very concerned whether the teachers could handle the situation if your tooth decided to come out at that moment.  Your teacher did her best to comfort you and then went on to explain to you that if your tooth comes out at school, you will go to the nurse’s office where you can either place it in a tooth box or you can make a necklace out of it which sounds entirely disgusting–why would anyone do that?  You can count on the fact that you will not be wearing your tooth around your neck if you’re around me.  The real anxiety surrounding your tooth comes at night time when understandably you’re scared about the possibility of swallowing and choking on the tooth.  The anxiety surrounding this tiny tooth is giving me anxiety by association.  We might all have better days when this tooth finally decides to come out.

You have made a new friend with a little precocious girl named, Eleanor who lives in the next court over.  She likes to come over to our house quite a bit and ask for snacks that I’m sure she’s not allowed to have at home and she often leaves with our bowls which I think she uses as a means to return to our house in the same day.  She’s a crafty one.  This really marks the first friendship where you can bounce back and forth between houses without a formal playdate being planned.  You adore her and maybe this will be a friendship that flourishes or maybe it will be old hat in a month.  Either way, it’s nice to see you finally having an opportunity to play with another child who is a girl and your age.

You socializing with other kids your age is a big deal for me since you do spend so much time with Miles.  Since there aren’t a lot of other kids your age in your kindergarten class, I allowed you to choose an extracurricular activity to allow you this opportunity to meet others.  I secretly hoped for swimming but ultimately you decided to join gymnastics.  I’m not thrilled with gymnastics–those kids are a little freaky with their abnormally toned bodies but you’re growing up and you’re very vocal now in what you want to participate in–meaning, you won’t stop talking about something until we give in.  You’re excited about it and it’s one more activity that ensures you’ll go to bed at night with ease.  Really, every parent’s goal is to exhaust their children to the point that they go to bed without putting up a fight.

It truly has been a big month for you and as much as I’m terrified to see you set off on this big journey, I’m equally excited to see what an awesome, intelligent young lady you will become.  As a parent, these milestones are never easy and they only seem to get harder the bigger the milestone.  I can’t help but see the next step and the one after that and so on.  I have to remind myself that I’m not the one who writes your story–you get to choose your way.  Even if that means supporting you while you jump around in spandex.  Oy vey.  Parenting is certainly not for the faint of heart and I will for sure need some level of therapy one day.  Of course, I don’t have the money for a professional since you and your brother are taking every last penny.  I guess that’s what alcohol is for.  We’re smarter than you think–there is a reason we produce so much in this house.  I’m sure in the end, everything and everyone will turn out just fine.  Fine or catatonic.  Only time will tell.

Love,

Momma

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