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May 2017

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This week has been a sort of milestone-but-not in the life of Sophie: kindergarten!

In the canton of Zürich there are two compulsory years of kindergarten, beginning the August after the kid turns 4 (more or less). We have had her in the Montessori school since right around the time she turned 3. Montessori kindergarten has 3-6 year olds in the same class, so she's got the same routine and same teachers as before. The only difference is that now it's compulsory, at least until lunchtime.

The real change for her is that she's staying for the full day. Until now she's been picked up most days after lunch by the childminder, as until now she's been considered too little to be able to handle school in the afternoons. So it's the end of the C era, more or less, although I expect C will still get her chances to look after Sophie during the school holidays. They have had a great relationship all this time, but full days at school simplifies life logistically and gives Sophie one fewer transition to have to cope with each day.

If there's anything I've come to learn over the last few months, it is that Sophie really hates transitions. It has started to get in the way of her desire to do new and interesting things, in some respects - she still calls weekends "stay-at-home days" and she really means it about staying at home! The weekly grocery shopping trip is okay, since that has a known and approved and familiar play area, and she can usually wheedle us into a cookie or a lollipop or something. But Sundays don't have any consistent outing, and so she usually tries to make sure that there is no outing at all. This was particularly bad while we were traveling, when even trying to get out the door of the hotel room would trigger tantrums sometimes.

Which brings me to the part where I finally discovered where Sophie fits in the kid classifications of the Internet. A long time ago cfox pointed me toward the book The Explosive Child, which I duly read. At the time I thought there was quite a bit that was vaguely relevant there, but Sophie wasn't such a pathological case as that book seemed to be targeted toward. Quite by coincidence, a few days after coming back from the Australia/HK trip last month I ran across a reference to another book, called Raising Your Spirited Child. I haven't read it yet - it's due out in a new edition next month, which I have ordered - but from sticking that particular phrase into a search word. It's her.
"Does your child have convictions stronger than most star Olympians? Have they ever been voted ‘Most Likely to Star in a Broadway Production’ by their preschool peers? Do your neighbors often wonder whether your kid has amputated a finger because their tantrums can be heard clearly from the next street over? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you may be blessed with a spirited child." -"
...ANY of the above?? Ha. So I look forward to the arrival of this book.

Meanwhile, I finally decided in June to bite the bullet and arrange piano lessons for Sophie. I've never been quite sure when a good moment would be to start music lessons of any form; on the one hand it's clear she's got singing talent, but on the other hand it's a bit difficult to imagine her taking instruction. But the music teacher at the school is apparently a real sweetheart, and he's well-disposed toward Sophie because she sings and dances so enthusiastically when he plays piano, and already a year ago he had bent C's ear about how musical she is. So I thought maybe if anyone can get her actually wanting to learn, he can.

So today was the first lesson. This morning she insisted that she didn't need the lessons because she already knew how to play piano! I suggested in that case she should show the teacher how well she can play. Heh.

I picked Sophie up after school, and of course I asked how it went. It's pretty difficult in general to get her to tell us anything about what she does at school, but she seemed at least a little willing to talk about playing the piano. Yes, she had gone to play, and she'd shown the teacher how she can play and he said it was ugly, and he wanted her to play with just one finger at a time and she didn't want to because she thought his song was ugly! And anyway Mummy she had to go back out and play on these STILTS that were FUNNY stilts because they had a flat top and round bottom!

Ahahaha. That's my kid, always knows best. (I am assuming the teacher had a reasonable sense of humor about the whole thing; I imagine the word 'ugly' was indeed used, but well random and enthusiastic bashing on the piano ain't pretty.) When we got home I got her to show me how she wanted to play and how the teacher wanted her to play, and she showed me both. And then she did a bit of experimental single-fingering up the scale. Since it wasn't an outright refusal to even talk about the lesson, and moreover she was even willing to demonstrate, I'm calling it a provisional victory.

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