Thursday, March 23, 2006

She's Got A Life

It's official. Sweetie is growing up. She's got a separate life from ours. A life all her own - if only for a small part of her week.

I first noticed it about two months ago or so when I had to meet my mom at Sweetie's school at pick up time. Don't ask me how, but somehow all three of the carseats that we own ended up in my one car. I had to meet mom so that she could get her rightful carseat back, and thus take Sweetie home with her.

Since I was there, and because this was during Sweetie's morning drop off freakout phase, I wanted to go inside with mom so I could see a happy Sweetie enjoying school. What we found was Sweetie and a friend running around, laughing while the rest of the classroom tried to settle down for nap time. This didn't strike me as odd, though, as much as seeing Sweetie's little cohort in mischeif stop in her tracks, take one look at my mom, and announce to Sweetie (who was still looking the other way) that her Nana was here.

It was just really weird for me to have this little girl - whom I had never laid eyes on before - know exacty who my mom was. Wow - Sweetie has friends and I don't even know who they are!

This spontaneous visit was also funny because, when Sweetie finally turned to see us, she was fully expecting to see Nana there. She was just about to excitedly exclaim "Nana!" when she saw me standing there too. Instantly, her smile turned to confusion and, I swear, she stood there for a good 5 seconds or more, trying to process in her brain why I was along to pick her up - totally unorthodox. It was really funny - just as quickly as her smile turned to confusion, it turned back into a huge grin. Instead of saying "Nana!" she came running at both of us saying "Mommy! Nana!" That was great!

I also get glimpses into Sweetie's big girl life when she sings songs to us from school or engages at home in practices she's picked up at school.

- One recent Saturday I was trying to tidy up a bit for some company. Sweetie wondered what I was doing and I told her, "Cleaning up. I could use some help please." So she said, "Oh, sure." and proceeded to sing the following as she picked up some of her toys:

Clean up, Clean up
Everybody, Everywhere
Clean up, Clean up
Everybody Do Your Share

Obviously, this is a song regularly sung at school. A simple thing, really. And only another parent may be able to understand this. But I felt simultaneously very proud of her for learning about such good behavior and responsibility, and heartbroken that she's growing up, learning things from someone other than myself or my husband. And I only find out what she's learning by accident whenever Sweetie decides to divulge some information (which is a very rare occurrence).

- Just last week we three were sitting home, watching a movie, eating some popcorn. Sweetie grew tired of the movie, though, and got up to play her own thing. Soon we found ourselves being tapped on the head with an empty paper towel roll, and being told "Go wash your hands now." Ahhh, another peek inside Sweetie's school day. An idea of the rules she must follow and the routines she's gotten used to.

Lastly, here's this story. Two weeks ago we both took Sweetie to school one morning. It was an "iffy" day for her - she was happy to be at school, but not sure she wanted Daddy and I to leave quite yet. So to distract her attentions I took her over to the Circle Time area of her classroom and started asking her about the posters on the wall. There was a teacher-drawn calendar and various posters about the weather. There was even a large weather-related pie chart with a movable arrow in its center so that you could point the arrow to the proper illustration for that day's weather.

So, I'm asking Sweetie what everything's all about and she points to the makeshift calendar and tells us matter-of-factly, "This says 'March'". Guess what - it did! Then she moved the arrow on the weather chart to point to the grey clouds. "It's a cloudy day today." she tells us, as she looks out the window for verification. Why yes, it certainly was.

Don't laugh when I tell you that my husband and I both nearly had tears in our eyes from pride. How cool it was to see the fruits of Sweetie's time in class. Hey, they really do teach a thing or two here!

But again - this immense feeling of pride was tainted with just a smidge of sadness at the further realization that Sweetie is becoming more and more independent every day.

Why do they have to grow up, anyway?

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