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Monday, May 12, 2014

Love Letter, Month 52

Dear Kate,

You are 52 months old today.
It is finally starting to feel like your favorite season (summer) so we've been outside as much as we can. Just yesterday you and Lucy spent the afternoon turning what little grass we had left in the yard into mud. You had a blast!
You have made friends with Brandon a few doors down and he has been nice enough to let you practice on his big bike. Ms. Julie was helping you balance while you figured out how to pedal.


You both earned scooters for getting all but one of your stickers on your responsibility chart for the week. You LOVE your new toy and use it every chance you get. Although the sidewalk is fine, the road is a much better place to ride as it has no bumps. Where do city kids go to ride in the middle of the road? Why, the cemetery of course.
Don't tell me your mother has no imagination!

The big event in April was Easter and you were quite thrilled about it.
 You were especially excited when you realized all the jellybeans you had planted had grown into lollipops!



We had parent/teacher conferences this month and you are doing quite well in school. Here is just a little about what your report said:

Mathematics: Kate is working with materials to help understand the concept of numbers 1-20. She is counting including using addition and subtraction correctly.

(You can count to 100 in Chinese and are practicing addition/subtraction. You have many exchanges like this with me:
"2+2=4. For example, if you had 2 light switches and then you added 2 more, then you'd have 4!")

Chinese language and literature: Kate has learned new vocabularies like big and small, short and long, loud and soft, primary and secondary colors, basic and advanced shapes, fruits, family/social relationships, clothing, continents, basic and advanced food, prepositions, days of the week, months of the year, seasons and holiday/festival names. Kate's Chinese listening skills and vocabulary are above-level.  

(Your teachers mentioned that they have been having you work with the kindergartners in some areas. Don't worry, you come by this honestly. When your daddy was in first grade, his teachers wanted him to skip grades but Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Len said no for a variety of reasons, mostly pertaining to social development. Instead, his teachers challenged him in different ways, including reading books to the fifth graders (which was not too popular with the 5th graders as you might imagine!).

In addition, your teachers say that you will speak to them completely in Chinese, asking and answering questions, using words that you have not formally been taught. For example, when asking for water, you will say, "Wǒ xiǎng yào yīxiē shuǐ." They said that your tones and vocabulary sound like a native Chinese child.)

Practical life: Kate is continuing to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Activities include putting on an apron, opening and closing bottle tops, rolling and unrolling rugs, threading beads, pegging, pouring beans/water jug to jug, and cutting along a line.

Sensorial: Kate is doing a very good job on triangular box, large hexagonal box, rectangular box and small hexagonal box. She is practicing binomial and trinomial cube.

Cultural subjects: Kate is working on fruit/vegetable sorting, animal kingdom/animal sorting, living/non-living sorting, animal/plant sorting. In geography, she has learned the seven continents and planets in the solar system. She has improved a lot in her cutting/pasting skills. She loves drawing and making paper crafts.

Kate is very eager to learn. She always asks us for things to work on when she arrives at school. Kate is very attached to Lucy. I would like to see her more sociable with other students. Kate seems to like observing other students and focus on the things that they are doing. When she does so, she loses focus on her own work. We need to work on improving her concentration.

They also mentioned that you tend towards perfectionism. They will often find that you have put work away into your cubby when you find it too difficult. You do not like to show your teachers unfinished work or work that is not *perfect* so we're all working on helping you enjoy the process just as much as the outcome.

One thing you do lose yourself in are what I call your vignettes. You love to arrange things "just so" and I have to say, I find them quite aesthetically pleasing. This activity can keep you absorbed for quite a long time.

 You even did it with your Easter candy.
You have your first penpal in Yiayia. You love her letters and look forward to them. You are quick to write her back so that you can get another letter.
You went to some performances this month. We went to your first theatre performance (Lyle Finds His Mother) with your school. You enjoyed the bus ride as well...
Next up was a local trapeze show.
But the best was YOU in a performance! You had your very first dance recital a few days ago and, although you were nervous, you did such a great job! You did all your dance moves and when it was over you exclaimed, "That was so much fun! I think I might want to do that again."

You were enthralled watching the rest of the show and sat quite happily on Uncle Paul's lap. Yep, this was the other big deal this month. Uncle Paul came to visit from Singapore on his way to work in Dallas next week. You were over the moon this whole weekend.



Unfortunately, his departure last night was hard on you. We had to literally pry you off of his legs and pour you into bed after he finished reading stories to you and Lucy.
Long after we had closed the door for the night, you lay awake in your bed and finally you came out telling me you couldn't sleep. After 2-3 more times of this scenario, I asked you, "Are you sad that Uncle Paul left?" and you burst into tears. My poor love, you are so very sensitive. You then cried for a while as we talked about how it is sad when people we love leave but that we can always see them again the next time we visit. "But it was so long ago that we saw him in China and I don't want to wait that long again!" you wailed.

Sigh. Some things I'm just not able to fix.


As usual, I will end this note on one of the funny conversations we had this month:

As we were driving home along the lakefront on a warm afternoon, we saw a bunch of joggers and you noticed that most of the men had their shirts off.



You: Mama, why do they have their shirts off?
Me: Because it's hot.
You: Why don't any women have their shirts off? Aren't they hot too?
Me: Because men are allowed to take off their shirts in public and women aren't.
You: Why?
Me: (oh god, this could last forever with no really good answer....perhaps, "because this is a patriarchal society where men make the rules?") Because women cover up their private parts, like their breasts, in public.
You: But men have nipples. Why can they show their nipples and women can't?
Me: (giving up) Because it's a patriarchal society where men make the rules.
You: What's patriarchal?
Me: It means a society controlled by men.
You: Well, that's not fair. So daddy is the only one in our family that can take off his shirt when it gets hot?
Me: Nope, it's not fair and yes, that is what that means.
Silence for a few minutes as you mull that over and then:
You: Can we get some ice cream?
I love you my funny girl.

Love,
Mama

2 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I love the conversations you record! They always put a smile on my face. When we lived in Europe I can remember the French women topless on the beaches and at the lakes! The sadness over Uncle Paul tugs at my heart strings. You really do have one very sensitive, caring, loving and kind little girl on your hands with Kate. That combined with her strong sense of organization makes me want her in my classroom - that is if I ever get back to work. You could introduce her to the world of email with Uncle Paul and scribe her responses. I absolutely love the pictures where she is soaked in mud! They are great! What a joy and delight both your girls are! How long can the girls stay at the Montessori school? Can they continue there schooling in Mandarin after that. There are one or two public schools here that offer Mandarin immersion in the early grades.

Lisa said...

Thanks Elizabeth! We're hoping to keep them in the immersion program for as long as possible!

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