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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dear Kate, Part Six - Elementary

Dear Kate,

Soon our new townhouse was built and ready for us to move in.
Not a moment too soon, as our previous landlords were kicking us out!
It was only by your dad's lawyerly wits that we stayed in long enough
for the townhouse to be finished.

We moved in and it was beautiful.
It had a great big eat-in country kitchen
and a finished basement.
There was a nice grassy area to take Lacey outside
and we could walk along a trail to the little park nearby.

Shortly thereafter, your brother Chris was born
and looking back, it was such a sweet time.
You loved him and were so patient with him.
He adored you and was happiest in your presence.
We were a very content family of four
and life was simple and good.

You went to preschool and had several close friends
that we would get together with often.
Before I knew it, the time had come for you to start kindergarten.

You went to a local private kindergarten
and you had an okay year there.
It wasn't great.
Your teacher was not at all cuddly or sweet
and you struggled with your letter sounds
and beginning literacy skills.

Being a special ed teacher,
I watched and worried.
This was definitely to be a theme with me!

After kindergarten, you attended grades one and two
at a parochial school in the next town.
Your reading took off in first grade
and I was so relieved.
You would go on to become a VORACIOUS reader
and in fact you are literally never without a book even now.

There are books at the kitchen island,
the kitchen table and the family room.
There are books in the dining room, living room
and van.
Reading to you is as essential as reading.
In this way, you are both your mother and father's child!

In third grade, we felt you needed more challenge
than the small and struggling parochial school
could provide for you,
so we moved you into the neighborhood public school.
You had a very good teacher there
and academically I think you were more challenged.
Actually, I know you were.
However, you seemed to struggle to find your niche.

Your strong personality,
which will serve you so well in adulthood,
had started to catch up with you.
That, combined with a blunt honesty (sorry, that's from me)
and an unwillingness to play the social games girls play
made this a rough year for you.

It was hard to watch.
As parents we struggle to see our children unhappy
and it is especially difficult when you see your child
working through things that you know are your own flaws.

However, you did have a very best friend named Emily
who lived next door.
Emily was like a sister to you and each day after school
and all weekend long, you two would be together,
playing Barbies or Polly Pockets.

Just before fourth grade,
we moved to our current house.
Yes, that's right.
You are going into fourth grade
and this would be your fourth school since you started Kindergarten.

I'm sorry.
Being the first child, you bear the brunt of our indecision
and our ineptitude as parents the first time around.
I'd like to think that it made you more confident,
more able to adjust to situations and rise above adversity.
I guess one day you'll tell me.

Luckily, this was the best school yet.
Academically you really began to flourish here.
By the end of fifth grade,
you were above grade level for reading and math
and your skills had all improved.

You had discovered your passion for singing and acting
and even got up on stage for the talent show to do a Broadway number
that you choreographed yourself.

While always headstrong and obstinate
and rather unwilling to take family suggestions,
you were viewed by your teachers as a hard worker,
kind, compassionate and unfailingly polite.

Soon elementary school would be coming to an end
and you would be heading off to middle school.
It is during this time in your life
that the disjointed pieces would come together
and you would really begin to shine.

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