Friday, October 15, 2010

Breaking Free

Taking a break for the moment from the “all Ceeya, all the time” tone that this blog has recently adopted to get us all caught up on that other child of mine, Viva.

Viva is in second grade. She has moved seamlessly from the private school where she spent most of her weekdays between the ages of 2.5 and 7 to the public school right down the street from us. If you were me, you might have expected more drama. You might have agonized a bit over how she would do in this new school, this new environment, this new sphere. Would she make friends? Would the teacher like her? What if this were a complete disaster?

Honestly. I worried about the class size. She was moving from a school where there were 12 kids in all of first grade. I worried about the quality of the education. She is extremely bright, gets bored easily, and is used to getting one-on-one attention from the teacher. I worried that she would have trouble dealing with “regular” kids (whatever that means). You know, I just worried, because that is my nature and I am her mother and I want her to be happy and have a great school experience.

So: class size? She’s in a gifted/talented magnet so there are 16 kids in her class, not the 35+ I was having hissy fits imagining. Quality of the education? Because she is in the magnet program, she is surrounded by other kids who are quick and curious and as eager to learn as she is. Their teacher, who is happily back in the classroom after three years in administration, says, “These kids came in like it was March, not September. They were ready to go, and I love it!” She is getting to know each of the kids and tailoring different projects to their interests. She is as thrilled as I am with the small class size and getting to spend so much time with each kid.

Viva loves her teacher, her class, and her after-school program. So school is going way more amazingly well than I could have hoped. Since there is no drama in that, let us move on. Viva has also, over the past few months, undergone a radical transformation.

Perhaps you know that Viva is a tomboy. She is a tomboy to the extent that most of her friends up to this summer were boys. Had you asked me to describe her up to now, I would have said something along the lines of: she plays sports with a fierce competitiveness; she has a true disdain for fairies and princesses, dresses, and anything sparkly; she abhors pink. She likes to play with superhero action figures, and when she comes home from school, she strips off her uniform and pulls on a pair of boy’s basketball shorts. She may or may not wear a shirt. If she does, it will be a boy’s undershirt or an oversized T-shirt.

Over the summer, at camp, Viva had a gradual awakening, thanks to a group of knuckleheaded little boys at her camp. “Boys are stupid,” she told me. “And you know, I don’t think I want to be a tomboy anymore.”

I was blown away. I said, “Maybe some boys are stupid.* Some girls can be stupid, too. But don’t let the behavior of some silly kids make you change who you are. If you want to try being a little more girly, that is fine with me. It’s fine to try on different ways of being as you figure out who you are. I love you if you’re a tomboy, and I love you if you’re not.”

When we began back-to-school shopping, she indicated that maybe she’d be interested in trying on a dress. I ended up buying her several knit cotton dresses and leggings, along with pants and nice shirts. She also wanted sparkly low-top sneakers that lit up when she walked. Do you know that every day for the first week of school, my “tomboy” wore a dress and sparkly shoes?

Children are amazing. Viva is never boring. I love that I am here to buckle up next to her and marvel at her journey. And that still, so often, she is still badgering me to come along. The years move quickly, you know. Sometimes I miss her even though she is still here.

* The fact that she even uses the word stupid is incredible, since just a couple of years ago the word stupid was equivalent (to her) to using a “bad word.” My, how times have changed. How lazy I have become in my language policing.

1 comment:

Nerd Girl said...

Great to read about Viva and how well she is doing!

I can't wait for gifted and talented to kick in (2nd grade I think) so that my sweet-peet can be a litle more academically challenged. We've had a pretty smooth transition to public school too - and I totally wasn't expecting that to be the case.

Take care!