Hidden Gems

So now we’re a few weeks into our family’s latest transitions.  I’ve written about these transitions as they related to the kids but haven’t written a ton about them solely from my perspective other than to essentially out myself as a huge baby with minor emotional instability issues.

To recap, Julianna started Kindergarten a few weeks ago and Chloe moved up (literally upstairs) in her school to the “oldest” classroom, Pre-K.  Age-wise, they’ve always been the same distance apart and last year there was 1 day a week when they weren’t both in the same place but now that’s changed significantly.  Chloe spends 3 days a week in Pre-K and 2 with our nanny.  Julianna spends 5 days a week in Kindergarten, in a different school, and 0 with our nanny.  3 days a week, Julianna takes a bus to the “sister school” affiliated with the school Chloe is in.  The girls might see each other outside but they aren’t in the same area.

Since they’ve been able to communicate and play independently, they’ve been tremendously close friends.  In tribute to what feels like a Little House on the Prairie TV show, they even call each other “sister” rather than by name.  They occasionally like to have sleepovers (always in Chloe’s bed because she has 2 bedrails and Julianna only has 1).  I even catch them cuddling every now and then when they think nobody is looking.  Needless to say, this school “separation” was another thing I was worried about for them; and also excited.  I was excited because I know that its important, particularly for Chloe, to branch out and do things on her own.  I was nervous because, well, they love each other and being around each other and have been “there” for each other without really knowing it.

It turns out that I can file that one under the “Matt, you shouldn’t worry about it” folder.  The 3 days a week Chloe goes to Pre-K, she comes with me to drop Julianna off at school.  She usually gets a “love you, bye” from Julianna and then she and I get 5 minutes alone together on the ride to her school.  She gets to pick all the music, she sings along, and she’s generally pretty pumped to get to school.  I think they enjoy their “own” time.  It turns out they get excited to come home and share their day with the other, to the best of their abilities.  Its fun to watch.

Both girls are doing great in their respective new school situations.  Next year, they will be back in the same school but for now, they seem to be enjoying the way things are.

It seems that the set of transitions is just about complete.  I wanted to sum them up in this post and then move on in future posts to the next set of things (which will undoubtedly include things like how to handle wild boys, drop-off parties, learning to read, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, etc).

There have been plenty of moments that went a different way than I would have thought or planned and others that have been right on.  Like with trying to sleep-train your babies, we’ve tried a variety of things to help along the way and gotten lots of help as well.  Some worked better than others.

  • We spent countless conversations talking up both Pre-K and Kindergarten for months leading up in the hopes that more information makes the future seem less cloudy, and maybe less scary.
  • The Pre-K teachers, who had Julianna last year, arranged to give Chloe the same “cubby” in the classroom so she was familiar with it when she arrived.
  • We attended orientations and playdates leading up to Kindergarten so Julianna could see the faces of her new classmates, almost all unfamiliar.
  • We bought new clothes.
  • Julianna got a brand new backpack from her grandparents (and we know how excited kids – and dads – get about backpacks).
  • Julianna stole a necklace.*

* Not exactly.  Sort of.  Side bar.

A number of months ago, I met someone.  Yes, like that.  Not really.  I’m a nerd for a living and met a guy (Matt Lauzon) who had started a company called Gemvara.  It is an online retailer for “Fine Jewelry, Custom Made.”   I had heard of the site but hadn’t used it.  Mother’s Day was rolling around and I was in the market for something different for my wife.

I took a look at the site, more closely this time, and found a necklace that I thought would be a nice mix of sentimental and “don’t kill me because I spent too much money”.  I ended up buying a simple sterling silver necklace with a pair of linked hearts on them.  Because of the whole “Custom Made” thing, I was able to choose a stone for each of the hearts.  I chose Aquamarine and Diamond (the birthstones for Julianna and Chloe respectively).  I liked it because it feels like an ungawdy way to have something that represented the kids.  My wife liked it too and it turns out that she did not kill me for spending too much money.  Anyhow, on the first day of Kindergarten, we let Julianna wear it.  We explained that there were 2 hearts, one for her and one for Chloe, each with a special gem attached.  We told her that if she got sad or lonely, she’d have the necklace on her neck and she could touch it and feel closer to her sister.

For 2.5 weeks she asked each morning if she could put it on.  We obliged.  Whatever it takes.

3 days ago she didn’t ask.

We didn’t offer.

Transition complete.

The other night, I asked Julianna if she wanted to help me write this post, or at least “contribute” in some way.  I explained what the blog was and how it was sort of like a diary I have been writing about her and her sister, and more specifically, recently, about Kindergarten.  I gave her my laptop, opened up a text editor, and asked her to type how she felt about Kindergarten.  She asked for help with some words and tried to sound out others.  I figured this would be a nice way to get a 5 year old’s perspective on the whole thing (please pardon her grammar and excessive spacebar usage).  The only editing I’ve done is to redact names of people she typed.  If you don’t think the following is cute, you need to get your head checked:

This is a story written by julianna:

i  love  you   chloe   and   mommy   anddaddy.
and  my   whole   famely.
love   julianna

sitting    next  to  [girl in class];

Knock knock.  Who’s there?
Interrupting cow.
Interrupting cow Mooooo! who?

my  friend  is   [girl in class]
and   [girl in class]   [girl in class from previous year]   and   miss [teacher]

love      julianna

dog  ‘s  are  my  sister  chloe  favorite  animal

I don’t know exactly how much the necklace helped her.  I don’t know how much any of the conversations or playdates or backpacks or anything else did either.  Ultimately, I’m reasonably sure they both love their new situations.

I find myself seeing new things, daily, that make me feel pretty proud of the way my girls are growing up, both together, and on their own.  It feels like we are all starting to settle into this new situation and that’s a feeling I’m happy to have.

At least until the next thing…