Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lilly is ready, but am I?

I don't know if I'll ever be ready for my children to grow up, but I've discovered there is not really a lot I can do about it.  Whether I like it or not, there comes a time when they have to stop sleeping on Jim and me, all scrunched up with their legs tucked under them in a way that only newborns love to snuggle.  Eventually, breastfeeding and the snuggling that comes with it has to come to an end.  Crawling has to progress to walking.  The gummy grins start filling in with teeth--as Dad so eloquently says, turning their smiles into "Nascar smiles".  We have to say goodbye to sweet little white onesies and barefoot babies and dress our little ones in real clothes and shoes.  I was sad to put away Lilly's one and I don't look forward to the day when Jack stops sucking his thumb.  When Lilly started saying "Lilly" instead of "Wiwwy," I wanted to cry.  Just as I'm sure I will be sad when she starts calling her dog "Spot" instead of "Pot."  When I sit and think about it though, it would be pretty ridiculous if these stages of life didn't come to an end.  Adults crawling around barefoot with toothless grins, wearing onesies and sucking their thumbs isn't a very pleasant image.  But for now, all of these phases are too short lived.

Some aspects I'm less nostalgic to see go.  I don't love bottles, so the transition to sippy cups is a welcome one.  The segmented sleep is another thing to which I don't mind saying goodbye.  However short lived it may be, it always feels longer than it is.  Say to any parent of a newborn, "Don't worry, the lack of sleep only lasts three months," and you'll receive a serious death glare in return.  I enjoy the transition from baby food to "real" food, as it's so much easier to feed everyone when we're all eating the same thing.  I don't miss diapers once they're gone, although there's something unbearably cute about newborn diapers.  They're so tiny that they don't even look real.

We are rapidly approaching another milestone that I know Lilly is ready for, but I'm not quite ready yet.  School.  Lilly starts at Hunt Ridge next Thursday.  I love everything about the school.  It's a Montessori school, which is an approach to learning that I wholeheartedly agree with and that I think will agree nicely with Lilly.  The classrooms are mixed ages, with children ages 3-5.  It encourages creativity, independence and free thinking.  It allows children to progress as they are ready, letting those who want to read and write and do math do those things.  Those that want to sort and explore science are encouraged to do so.  There are very few "class lessons" because children vary so much in their interests and abilities at this age.  Of course, there is plenty of structure within the idea of freedom.  Children are directed to different areas of the classroom if they continually choose the same activity.  There is a fantastic balance between play and learning.  When I was researching Montessori schools, a good friend directed me to this video.  While the video is geared more towards older children, the foundation and love of learning is set at an early age.  I look forward to watching Lilly flourish in this environment over the next three years.

With that being said, I have almost burst into tears multiple times in the past week.  On Wednesday, we had a picnic at Hunt Ridge and got to meet Lilly's wonderful teachers afterwards.  That night, we had a parents' orientation meeting.  As one of us had to stay home with Lilly and Jack, Jim willingly volunteered--something about the kickoff of the NFL season--so I attended the first of what I'm sure will be many parents' meetings.  The director of the school, Kathleen, is amazing.  She started the school 30 years ago with 6 students, and today it has 80 students and a fantastic reputation within the community.  We went over all the standard parent things at the meeting, and then Kathleen talked about the drop off and pick up procedures.  Every day, Kathleen and her assistant Karen, greet the cars, help the children out of their carseats and walk them down to their classrooms.  At the end of the day, the reverse is done.  They walk the children out to the cars and help them back in.  This means that next Thursday at 9am,  I'll drop Lilly off and she'll be returned to me at 12.  When I think about it, it's only three hours.  And like I said earlier, boy is she ready.  But it's THREE hours!  Every day.  I'm so used to having my little companion around in the mornings, chattering away and checking in on me every few minutes.  Lilly may be sitting in the kitchen coloring or playing with play doh but the second I get out of the shower, I heard, "Mum...are you out of the shower now?"  I get a play by play of what she's just drawn or the type of bird she sees in our backyard.  I hear her singing her favorite songs and making up new ones.  I'll walk downstairs to see her twirling and dancing around in front of the mirror in the hallway.  When she sees me, I get a,  "Hey Mum, check out my new moves!" and can't help but smile.  It's at those moments that she looks so little to me.

She's been coloring and drawing up a storm lately and is very proud of herself when she writes a letter or draws objects.  These are pretty much my favorite drawings.  Ever.

This picture has everything!  Flowers, people, a "P", the letter "E" that looks more like half a ladder...Lilly worked on this for ages!
A person with lots of arms.
Lilly's very first person, complete with eyebrows, cheeks and "(s)piky hair"
Lilly wrote, "Liy" over and over again and when I hopped out of the shower yesterday, proudly showed me this saying she wrote her name!  
An "A", a sun and a little scribble
Lilly colored this in at the restaurant we were at for dinner last night.  She is very proud of herself when she stays iside the lines!  Jim's compulsive coloring skills have rubbed off on her! After coloring, Jim wrote her name and she copied it.
One morning this week, we pulled in from dropping Jim at the train station and Lilly was thrilled to discover a worm lying innocently in our driveway.  This poor worm picked the wrong place to hang out--right next to Lilly's car door.  Lilly loves worms.  For as much of a girl that she is (you should have heard the conversation Lilly and I had last weekend when I had to convince her to wear shorts and a t-shirt instead of a dress to soccer!) she loves dirt and mud and being outside.  So this worm was her morning entertainment.  Lilly decided that the worm needed water so she made multiple trips inside to fill up her cup with water which she poured on the poor worm in case he was thirsty or needed a bath.  I told her that the worm might need a little break from the water so she sat outside watching him slowly make his way as far away from the water as he could.  After a little while, Lilly came running in and asked me for my phone so she could take a picture of the worm.  The technology that this generation will know is amazing!  So I gave her my phone and she came in a few minutes later with close to 20 pictures of this worm.  She asked to send one to Jim at work and told all her friends at the park that afternoon about her worm at home.  That worm smartened up while we were at the park and must have moved in record worm speed to a new (dry) home so although we keep looking, we haven't found that worm again.

Photograph courtesy of Lilly
I'm going to miss my little one in the mornings.  No matter how big she is, I always think of her as that tiny baby with a head full of hair who forever changed our lives almost three and a half years ago.

Lilly showing off her winking skills

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