Mostly Katie


In this week's school newsletter:

On Monday 25th February, 2JD and 2CS went to the
Globe Theatre.

We learnt that people went to The Globe to watch a show
and that they had to cross the River Thames by boat to
get there.

Later on, we saw the Queen’s dress and what Shakespeare
wore in those times. Also, we saw lots of instruments
in a glass case and some of the group got to touch
a suit of armour; one person even got to hold a sword!

Katie Gambier, 2JD

Katie and Harry (WARNING: SPOILERS!)

Over the last couple of months, Katie has started decorating her door. She calls it her gallery. She puts only her best pictures up there, and occasionally deigns to put one of Buffy's up. If it passes muster. Buffy has retaliated by starting her own gallery by the front door. Unfortunately it was some time before we realised she was using GLUE and not tape, but that's another story. Well, that's all of the story, actually, but I want to tell Katie's story.

My favourite picture currently on display in The Gallery is filled mostly with words. It says several things, but the best line is "Katie is in love with Harry Potter". And she is! She so is! It's so beautiful and adorable and everything else heart-achingly wonderful. She loves Harry in all his sparkly magical glory. More than I would have her at this age (still 6, mind you).

I have tried to stem the torrent of Harry-ness. I made her read other books in between HP novels. I gave up after she tore through Black Beauty and Heidi with wild abandon. She clearly did not enjoy these classics. They were impediments between her and her Harry. With heavy heart I shelved the Lauren Child-illustrated Pippi Longstocking, and gave in. She could read all the Harry Potter books... AFTER I'd read them all first. I was most worried about the last pages of Chapter 27 in The Half-Blood Prince. The scene where Dumbledore falls. I didn't know how she'd deal with it, I didn't know how I'd explain. It's so hard when the full story isn't revealed until the final chapter of the SEVENTH book.

You may have already guessed... she got there tonight. Just before lights out. She looked at me with wide, trusting eyes and says, "He's not really gone, is he?" I have thought long and hard about how I would answer this question. I totally and utterly failed to handle it appropriately. I nodded. That was all, and that was enough. She dove under her covers and sobbed.

I would have worried more and been more upset, but she wasn't really crying. I think she knew it was a big deal, and she knew how others react to terrible news. She cried and howled, but no tears came. I told her it would all work out in the end, and Harry can always talk to Dumbledore's portait. Then I kissed her and said goodnight. How she is really affected remains to be seen. The book's explanation is so complicated. I don't know if she'll get it. Must prepare more speeches (which I'll undoubtedly forget at the critical moment).

Put Your Best Foot Forward

I just came into the living room where I thought Katie was watching a DVD. She had it paused and was hopping. I said my usual, "If you're not gonna watch that, may I turn it off?"

Unusually, she didn't rush back to the sofa, but kept hopping. She said something like, "I just have to see..."

I asked what she meant, but she just kept hopping. I asked again and she collapsed on the sofa and complained, "I just lost track!" So, I asked again what on earth she was doing.

Katie explained, "On there [the DVD] they said, 'put your best foot forward', but I didn't know what that meant. So I'm counting to see which foot is better, so I can know which is my best foot!"

Atta girl!

Pushy Parents

We are not pushy parents. Really, we're not. Sure, Katie has gymnastics, German, dance and piano during the week, but that's just because she wants to do those activities. They're all in school, and except for piano, all take place outside of class time. So, we're not pushy parents.

Okay, okay, so we like to visit her classroom and get to know her teachers. Only one of her former teachers is in my phone, though. See? Not pushy at all.

And does it really matter that we're a month into school and we've already met with her teacher AND the headmistress? Of course not! Just displaying a normal, healthy interest in the progress of our child.

Whether our interests are healthy or normal or not is frankly beside the point. We are entitled to be interested in our child's progress at school. If she says she's bored, we have to look into it. I don't think anyone should take the opportunity to portray us as pushy parents. Because we're not. Not really.

Separation Anxiety

Since Katie had her first sleepover party a few weeks ago, we've both realised she's ready for greater freedoms and responsibilities. It is so hard to reconcile this with our modern lives. I can't exactly give her my purse and send her down to the shops for odds and ends, as much as she would like that. Instead, we're taking baby steps. When we walk to the shops together, Buffy and I take the ramp over the motorway, Katie takes the stairs and then runs down the ramp to meet us. I know this doesn't sound like much, but it feels huge. If we went grocery shopping more, I'd send her down a different aisle to fetch something. As we're internet shoppers, we have to find other ways. Of course this shifting of boundaries has meant Katie needs to question every single boundary in our lives. That part isn't so much fun for us, but we're working through it.

Yesterday, Katie and two schoolfriends hosted a lemonade stall on our street. Loads of our neighbours came around for lemonade and slices of cake. The girls made their own poster, prepared everything, even drummed up business by making up a "lemony lemonade" song. Adorable! Most amazingly, they raised nearly £30! They only charged 20p per glass, so that's an awful lot of lemonade!

The very best part was how pleased Katie was with herself yesterday. Talking to strangers, making eye contact, and asking for payment were all very big challenges for Katie. Huge challenges. Also, dealing with the rejection of people who mysteriously didn't want a tall glass of fresh lemonade on a hot summer's afternoon wasn't easy for three six-year-olds. They handled it all beautifully.

I can't say enough about how proud Katie was of herself. She is exuding confidence today. She glows. In the words of my dear mother, she did something she wasn't sure she could do. It has been an amazing confidence builder on top of a confidence-building summer. Katie goes back to school in two weeks, and I hope they're ready. I know she is.

I Tried Telling Her to Stop Growing. She Didn't Listen.

Friday night was Katie's first ever sleepover. I have long feared sleepovers, and had resigned myself to their inevitablity now that Katie is six. I think I was six when I went to my first slumber party. I have also recently noticed in Katie a greater need for independence. I have tried to grant her moments of freedom whenever possible like unlocking the door on her own, walking further ahead of us, and a dozen other little ways. I decided there were only two friends' houses I would let Katie stay overnight. Both moms I have known for years, know they parent similarly, and know Katie would have a good time. Wouldn't you know it one of them invited Katie over last Friday.

It went brilliantly! Katie had so much fun, it didn't even occur to her to miss me. I missed her dreadfully and slept with two phones under my pillow, just in case. Even then I barely slept. I tossed and turned and wondered if I should be worrying less, or possibly more? Nothing like worrying about worrying to make you feel like a paranoid freak. In the morning I asked Katie if she'd missed me, and she looked at me like I'd sprouted another nose. Why on earth would she have missed me?

Best of all, according to Katie, was they "stayed up until the next day!" Oh goodie! Long nap for you then. Worst of all was the Nail Polish Incident. Now, I have absolutely no problem with nail varnish at sleepovers. I think they're an integral part of the whole experience. It's a bigger deal for my girls, because they've never had painted nails. The big girls played with the nail varnish and decorated every available nail surface among them. Then they left the bottles in plain sight of the younger girls. Well, one younger girl. Buffy. *horror movie scream*

Buffy took it upon herself to decorate her nails as she'd seen the big girls do. Then, as the big girls had, she painted her toes. Not her toenails, mind you, her TOES. And, of course, you can't complete the look without lipgloss. Explaining the difference between lipgloss and nail varnish has moved way up my To Do list. Buffy came dripping down the stairs like a scene from a slasher film. Dripping from her fingers, toes and mouth, the other mothers immediately thought there'd been some terrible accident. I knew in an instant what had happened: Buffy got into a fight with a bottle of nail polish, and the nail polish won.

On Wednesday we finally have an appointment with the dentist to investigate why her TEETH ARE SILVER. This afternoon we have an appointment with the doctor to investigate a weird rash on Katie's foot. I hope we'll make it, but Buffy refuses to nap. She's so quiet upstairs, I think she's asleep. Then I hear a noise and go upstairs to find Buffy in a new outfit trying to decide if there really is such a thing as too many platic beads. (The answer is always an emphatic "no".)

But this post was supposed to be about Katie. My shining star big girl with all the independence. The sleepover has sparked something in her. She really is more independent suddenly. We took her to the playground yesterday, and it seemed to small for her. Last week it was still challenging. This time Andrew had to take her on a hike around the park to keep her interested. Of course all this boundary shifting has consequences. Some boundaries have moved, so now all boundaries must be tested. Does this one still apply? How about this one? And this one over here, the brushing teeth one, I never liked that one much. Has it by any chance moved? Every single request is being met with sighs and eyerolls. So much joy.

Except she is! Katie really, truly is a joy. Yesterday morning she woke me up holding a ruined dress. It had a giant black ink stain down the front. She asked if she could cut it up and make it into a skirt. Um, sure! So now she's made herself a skirt. I was so impressed by how much she truly did on her own. I still control the foot pedal on the sewing machine, but that was really about it beyond some basic instructions. When she made her dress, I kept tight control on every bit. This time around, it was all shining Katie on her glittery own. I'm afraid there's going to be a lot more "on her own" in her future. Good thing it's glittery!

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