Tuesday, April 17, 2012
She's growing up.
A few weeks back Abby asked me if she was four and a half. One of the girls in her ballet class is four and a half now, and Abby thought that was a pretty big deal. I did a quick count in my head, and sure enough, she is.
"Yep," I told her, "You turned four and a half in February."
And now, anytime someone asks, she tells them with great confidence: "I'm four and a half."
Six months may not seem like a lot, but I speak from experience now when I say that four and a half is very, very different from just being four years old.
At four, she set goals for herself.
At four and a half, she's well on her way to meeting them.
She's started swimming lessons, and once a week now she joins five little friends in the pool and learns to kick, paddle, put her head under water and generally stay afloat. She wanted to learn to swim by the time her fifth birthday rolls around. Her teacher tells me this won't be a problem.
She's still having a grand old time on her big girl bike, and with the encouragement of the big girls across the street to remind her how to keep her balance and to look where she's going (and a little help from Daddy running behind her just in case), she's managed quite a few trips up and down our street on two wheels. The skill is there, and now we're just in the confidence-building stage of learning to ride. When she gets bored with having to concentrate so hard, or when the big girls take off a little faster than she's comfortable with, we throw the training wheels back on and let her have a fun time. But even then, we catch her third-grade mentor reminding our daughter to keep herself balanced and encouraging her to keep those training wheels up off the ground. Peer pressure is turning out to be a very positive thing when it comes to bike riding.
But perhaps her proudest four-and-a-half moment to date came tonight. We've been working our way through the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and I'll admit I was skeptical at first. Anything that purports to be able to teach my child something in ten minutes a day deserves to be met with some skepticism. But after what amounts to about 280 minutes of teaching these easy lessons, my confidence in this book's methods and my daughter's abilities is restored.
We read our bedtime stories, and then, as is our nightly ritual, I left her light on and told her she could look at a book for a few minutes before going to sleep.
"Why don't you sit right there," she said, pointing to her reading chair, "and I'll read a story to you. You can help me with the words."
She found a Highlights magazine and began to thumb through for a good bedtime story to read to mom. I sensed an opportunity and took it. I grabbed one of the first reader books that I have laying around, and suggested she read that one instead.
"You know all the sounds in this book, Abby. If you want to read this one, you probably won't need any help," I told her.
She liked that idea.
It was only a few words, a quick little story about Mom, Pop and Peg spending time in the sun and how Pop wouldn't have been so hot if he'd had a hat like Mom and Peg. We'd never read it before, and Abby was a little hesitant at first. She'd sound out a word, and then look at me to make sure she'd said it right. But then she began listening to herself, and picked up the story line, and realized that she was reading just fine. She went through page after page, smiling when Mom and Peg put on their hats, and wondering aloud why Pop didn't bring his hat if he knew he was going to be in the sun.
When she was done, you'd think she had just finished reciting The Complete Works of Shakespeare from memory. She was absolutely beaming with pride. And so was I.
I did what any mom would do. I praised her. I hugged her and told her how proud I was of her and how well she was doing. I called Daddy and interrupted his Bible study to tell him how awesome his daughter is. I called the grandparents. And I snapped a picture of her with her first book.
I think Fun in the Sun might be my new favorite piece of fiction.