Saturday, September 29, 2012

The New Normal

Augie, with three weeks of kindergarten under his belt, walks a little taller and behaves a little more responsibly. ViMae, initially bereft without him, is enjoying our undivided attention and learning who she wants to be when he’s not around. They were already spectacular, and now they are just a little more grownup.

We’ve settled into a daily routine. The kids still arrive at roughly 6:45, and I’ve started getting up at 7 instead of 8. There is time to play, eat a big breakfast (an hour earlier than we used to), and have lots of conversation. Then at exactly 8:07 Augie puts on shoes and jacket and heads out the door with his grandpa.

This routine works because Augie is much more able to do what he’s asked the first time. Come to breakfast. Wash hands. Time to go. These used to be a struggle, because he gets immersed in whatever he’s doing and it has been hard for him to let go. We all knew he needed to get better about it in order to get along in school, and he has risen to the occasion.

A couple of days ago he announced that he was ready for Pa to drop him off at school instead of parking the car and walking in with him. So yesterday Peter watched with a lump in his throat as Augie ran to the door, turned and gave a big grinning wave, and disappeared inside.

As Augie and Pa go out the door, ViMae is taking my hand and pulling me toward wherever she wants to play this day.

We do crafty things with markers, stickers, construction paper, play-dough, and the like. Using scarves, tiaras, and silk flowers we dress as dancers, as princesses, as a bride (her) and flower girl (me). We dance or drink pretend tea or practice walking slowly up an imaginary aisle. Often Pa reads to her, and sometimes we play a board game.

What is striking is that every activity lasts much longer than before. With Augie here, ViMae interrupted herself every few minutes to see what he was doing. Often she got sidetracked and didn’t return. Now we play for an hour or more at each activity, and as a result, her skills are developing: Our projects are more complete, our pretend stories more developed, our dances far more expressive. She often stops to say, "This is fun!" It will be fascinating to see where this leads.

Just as Augie decided he was ready to walk himself into school, ViMae has overcome her separation issues when we deliver her to preschool. Yesterday she hugged us and was gone in a flash. But earlier, when we mentioned that we planned to take turns driving her, as we did when just Augie went there, she let us know she likes both of us to come. As long as she feels that way, and since we both enjoy the experience, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

A whirlwind first hour, and a much calmer rest-of-the-day focused on one child instead of two. It’s all part of the new normal.


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