28 April 2009

Charis' Excellent Adventure

My baby girl. It seems minutes ago we were figuring out a feeding schedule for her, watching her learn to walk, and changing her diapers. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, she has grown into a pretty self-sufficient kid who feeds herself, runs around at warp speed, and fetches diapers for her baby sister. And who is on the cusp of beginning school.

This first picture was taken from the drivers' seat (duh) while we sat at Sonic and waited for our treats after Charis' Kindergarten screening. I was so proud of her, I even let her get a toy. Here's how it all went down. That morning, we dropped my aunt off at the airport. She had been visiting with us for a week, and the kids were wired with excitement to be able to see the baggage return belts and climb on the airport chairs again. Charis, in particular, was everywhere, completely ignoring all of my instructions and admonitions and running amok. I was already a nervous wreck thinking about her testing, and not sure how she'd do; though I've tried to prepare her well and give her plenty of opportunities to grow socially, emotionally, and intellectually, we didn't send her to a formal preschool, and I was afraid that would be to her detriment when it came time to be tested. Seeing Charis running wild, my aunt suggested I have a talk with her about how important it was to follow her teacher's instructions and obey. I assured her we'd have a long, long chat about that on the way there.

I dropped off Judah and Ruby at a friend's house, and Charis and I headed over to the school. On the whole ride there, I was trying to quiz her and prepare her for the evaluation. The only problem was that I myself didn't know what to expect from it. Charis has a knack for knowing when you're trying to elicit information from her, and loves to thwart your efforts; she'll do things like insert an L into her numbers when counting or toss a 7 into her alphabet, just to be funny and to give me gray hair. So we talked long and hard about obedience and cooperation, and about how it was a day to show the teachers how very smart she is. "No being funny, Charis. This is serious, and you have to answer all of their questions as best you can," I said. We arrived a few minutes early, prayed, and marched into the school.

She's so confident, is the thing. In my personal opinion, she's brilliant and charming and funny and beautiful, and I can't imagine a world where she wouldn't be invited into Kindergarten with open arms. But I am her mother, and so I realize I have a certain bias and that professional educators might want to put my still-four-year-old, who will just have turned five this summer, into the Young Fives program to give her a chance to mature a little more. I tried to give myself the pep talk wherein I convince myself that admission into the Young Fives program is not tantamount to parental failure (because it really isn't), and handed her over to the teachers for the evaluation.

Several people have asked me about what sorts of things they asked her or required her to do, and the real answer is that I do not know. There were six tables set up: four tables were occupied by the teachers doing the screening, and two tables were activity tables for the children who were waiting to be screened. Then there was a semi-circle of chairs set up for the parents--all of of whom looked terrified. We were given a packet of information and a checklist to fill out with our child's abilities and told to wait there while our kids were being tested. I fruitlessly strained to hear what was going on at the teachers' tables. Charis had a few minutes to wait between teachers, during which I tried to ascertain what they'd asked of her. Mostly she said things like, "Don't worry, mom. It was really easy."

And just like that, it was over. "Is that it?" I asked.

"That's it," they answered.

Charis beamed. "Mom, I didn't even say anything funny! I did a good job!"

I glanced at the folders, a pile of which was sitting on one of the tables. I noted that Charis had comparitively high-ish scores, but I had no idea what the numbers actually meant, so it was little consolation. I knew we'd be notified by mail what decision they'd reached, so my anxiety didn't subside for a while. Treats at Sonic helped, as did some one-on-one time with Charis where I realized that it really didn't matter a whole lot whether she was assigned to Young Fives or regular (all day! everyday!) Kindergarten, because she's a happy, well-adjusted kid who will bloom well wherever she's planted. (All the same, I was glad to learn, two days later, that she'd been accepted into the Kindergarten program. I'm still human.)

Twelve minutes ago, she was a little spitting up, diaper-clad, rice cereal-faced bundle of joy. Four minutes ago, she was a walking, potty training toddler. And tomorrow, she'll be off to Kindergarten. Just like that. But she'll always be my baby girl.


The mommy... said...

I cannot believe she is a kindergartner! I was just looking at photos the other day when she was brand new in the Baby Bjorn!! Time goes by soooo fast! She will love kindergarten, and I have a hunch as much as you love Charis with all your heart, you will love kindergarten too! :-)

Andrew said...

and the day after tomorrow she'll be walking down the aisle. see, THIS is precisely why i don't think i'll be sending violette to kindergarten for to more years. and i will promptly sign myself up for counseling on her first day. you are a brave mommy, a great writer, and i love you. missing you, me.call me.

Onna said...

Darn you for making me want to cry!

sherrie youdell said...

I know exactly how you feel...my baby is 22 and getting married. Where has the time gone...it flew by.