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May 2017

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Dear Sophie,

I would ask "how on earth did you get to be five?!" only you've been anticipating it ever since you turned four, so I guess I can't pretend too much surprise. And you did make sure that everyone you encountered knew you were having a birthday that week.

December is always a crazy month, doubly so with your birthday tied up into it, and by now I think you have just about forgotten what it is like to *not* be getting new presents all the time. January may be a bit of a let-down that way I'm afraid. But on the bright side, we're now in the year in which you will turn six, and you're already very busy anticipating that.

We went to see my side of the family for Christmas this year, and you charmed the stuffing out of pretty much everyone you met. You also got to go to your first church service - heathens that your parents are - and you got pretty bored, but still managed to suck up to Grammy big-time by saying how excited you were to go to church for the first time. Little creep. ;) That said, much as everyone appreciated you on your own terms there was a lot of comparison with me at your age, and in particular a lot of people asking if you are reading already like your freakishly precocious mummy was. With the result that you are pretty sick of being harassed about this whole reading thing and have declared that you never want to learn. Sigh.

So no, you're not a baby academic the way I was, but you are certainly busy.  At the moment your main learning concerns seem to be:
  • How to make things, usually out of paper and sticky tape
  • Stories and how they work and what belongs to them vs. real life
  • How to consolidate your already firm grasp on the attention of those around you
which doesn't leave you any time for all this troublesome reading, writing, arithmetic, etc. (That said, you can write your own name with a little help, now, as you demonstrated to me for the first time in church.) Your time in drama class has also shown us all that you can memorize stories and lines with the best of them. The last class before Christmas ended with a small show for the parents, and while on the one hand I wasn't impressed that I had to say a few sharp words to you in front of everyone else in order to get you to behave, on the other hand I was super proud that you wanted to be the first kid to recite the poem you had been learning. Some of the lines were out of order but you did it all by yourself, without prompting, and more importantly you were brave enough to go first. That was pretty cool.

As for the arithmetic, well, we are hoping that starting you on an allowance will help. Eventually. You do have quite a lot of fun spending the money, though you aren't really concerned with the change. It will be a nice surprise for you to have all this savings of money you've disregarded once you've bought something, and it will be sort of fun when you catch on. A few days ago we took you to Cracker Barrel and gave you your allowance in dollars, and let you pick out any toy you could afford; after a bit of decision paralysis you picked a toy that is your new best friend, and you didn't even really notice the whole spending-money part. We'll get there soon enough.

School remains a combination of something you enjoy and something you get fed up with. Although you aren't particularly interested in doing anything if you know it counts as learning, there is still plenty for you to do there. We were asked to put you in German tutoring lessons at the beginning of the year, which you proceeded to be so (albeit cheerfully) uncooperative in that we had to stop them, but in the meantime it did get you speaking German enough that your normal classroom teachers can take it from here. Mostly this has given you another excuse to speak to perfect strangers when we are out and about. And sometimes you even feel like practicing with us - during that same trip to Cracker Barrel you decided to converse with me in German in the bathroom, enough that bystanders almost certainly thought that we were exotic foreigners. That was sort of fun.

All in all you are certainly growing, and doing your best to grow up even though it's sometimes pretty hard for you to remember that when you are five, there are behaviors that you can't get away with anymore like you did when you are three. Some days are wonderful and other days are horrid, but not a day goes by that you are not your full-on 110% self, and pretty much everyone you know adores you for it.


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