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May 2017

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We have decided that what Sophie really needs in her life right now is drama lessons. (I hope that terrified at least one or two readers of this blog!)
Re-entry into the school routine has been rocky to say the least; Sophie has been bull-headedly insisting on doing her own thing, refusing to cooperate with anything she's asked to do, and lashing out at teachers rather alarmingly. It is a bit shocking especially since the environment isn't new for her and the expectations by and large haven't changed (apart from the expectation that "you aren't three anymore, you can't get away with ignoring our rules so flagrantly".) Given how much awful behavior we have been getting from her at home since the springtime, I suppose this shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise, but attacking teachers was new for us and is pretty worrying. On the bright side, Sophie's behavior at home has dramatically improved over the last couple of weeks, so that I actually have trouble remembering the last time she had a tantrum. We're going to meet her teachers on Friday to talk about her behavior, but there are signs that she is beginning to calm down there too. 
The piano lessons have been going rather better - after the first rather hilariously disastrous one (from the point of view of Sophie's willingness to do what someone else wants her to), the piano teacher evidently was the first to get past her stubbornness and through to her, and he reports that the subsequent lessons have gone very well. She isn't practicing at home yet, but I am not sure she yet needs to be at this very early stage. But she reports that she likes it, and I am getting good reports from the teacher, so I'm looking forward to seeing what develops there.
So in the middle of all of this behavioural drama I saw an advertisement for an English-speaking theatre academy and I got to thinking, you know, we've joked about how the last thing she needs is drama lessons, but actually Sophie is *made* for performance. Why not channel some of that natural talent? I didn't enroll her immediately because it was clear she was still having big problems at school and I didn't think another extra-curricular (viz. another change in routine for a transition-phobic kid) was necessarily the best idea. But as she started settling down at home, I thought maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to give it a go - and for that matter, best to get the routine a little bit established before the two-week school holiday in October. It also gave me time to shift around my own work schedule enough to make it possible to get her there during the workday.
Yesterday was our first go at it. Sophie was very pleased to be picked up early from school, and extra pleased that there was time to get a snack at Starbucks along the way, and once we arrived I was pleased to see that a brother-sister pair from her school are in the same theatre class! The kids were all delighted to see each other too, and dived right into playing with each other. So after a bit of initial chaos got sorted out, the kids went to do their thing and this other school mother (let's call her M) and I went for a chat over coffee. (I'd been planning to sit with a coffee and my laptop anyway.)
Before we went I'd tried to explain to her what the theatre class was all about, but it is difficult to do that without giving rise to immediate expectations of PERFORMING on a STAGE with COSTUMES and MUSIC and all that fun stuff. So I came back to discover poor Sophie who, while having had a great deal of fun pretending to be explorers and hunting a rhinoceros and all that, was wondering when the whole performing-on-a-stage thing was going to happen! She was really quite indignant to learn that it wasn't going to be today, or next time, or in fact for weeks yet, and she petulantly came away with me saying that she had expected to have a STAGE with a LION COSTUME and MICROPHONES and GUITARS and VIOLINS and she didn't like this class at all. But funnily enough, when given the choice of coming to the class next week or staying in school all afternoon, she chose to come to the class. ;)
So we'll see how it goes; I hope she'll settle into it as well as she settles into the piano playing, and she certainly likes the part where Mummy comes early to pick her up from school. M has already offered to collect Sophie along with her own kids in two weeks when I'm going to be out of town, which will be a great help to Mike. It may be that we take turns delivering all three kids to the studio this year, which would be a great convenience. And I really do think that, if she can be persuaded to buy into it, Sophie will be a really great performer one day.
I suppose the odd irony is that Sophie's being at school full-time means that we can add these extracurriculars to her schedule for the first time in a fairly painless way (since we couldn't really ask C to cart her around town as necessary), but many other parents in her class are struggling with having to reduce the extracurriculars their kids take part in, as those kids shift to full-time schooling! It's just another sign of how different I am by working full-time with a kid under the age of 6 in this country.

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