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Pomp, Circumstance and Meltdowns

The happier of our two scholars

The girls had their preschool “graduation” yesterday. Which is really, in their case (and that of most of the kids), just an end of the year assembly and celebration. They’ll be back at the same school next year, for their third and final year. As I wrote about a few months ago, they could, technically, go to Kindergarten in our town, which has an absurdly late cutoff, but we’ve decided to wait – and are totally sure that it’s the right call. Seeing Elsa up on stage, flashing her underwear to the crowd, confirmed it further.

But they definitely have made huge developmental leaps over the past year. Elsa, who started the year on a rocky social note, with the other kids “not wanting to play with her” has improved her sharing skills sufficiently so that she is no longer a preschool pariah. Clio, meanwhile, continues to make strides in her independence from mom / teachers, and interest in playing with other kids. In fact, at the beginning of the year, she played Frenchie to Elsa’s Sandra Dee — OK, wait, that analogy TOTALLY doesn’t work, on multiple levels — let’s start over. Clio, in tight with the other girls in the class, was trying to figure out ways to bring Elsa into the fold, and giving her advice (a little too much advice, actually) about ways to get the other kids to like her.

In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that Clio loves school. Pretty much every day, she wakes up and asks “is it a school day?” And it’s a whole lot easier to get her to get dressed on school days than on any other day. So, it’s not surprising, really, that she’s having a tough time with school ending. Not that I was astute enough to make the connection between this and her behavior lately.

Yes, now that Elsa seems to have come through her particularly rocky stretch, Clio is acting out. Naturally. Because this is how the balance of the universe is maintained. Or something.

Last night as I was getting the girls ready for bed, Clio was a terror. Not quite in the same way Elsa is — punchy, whiny, baby voicing, etc. — but in a stubborn, lip-sticking-out, “angry” way. No I won’t listen. I won’t brush my teeth. You’re a bad woman. You’re a dumb dumb head.

I took magnets off her bedtime chart (given for good behavior). I took away her Curious George Doll. I took away her watch. I told her she wasn’t going to get a bedtime story. Nothing. No reaction. She just kept pouting and stomping and disobeying. (Which is totally unlike her; usually if I did just one of these things, she would cry and correct her behavior.) Finally, realizing that this wasn’t working, I just gathered her up onto my lap and held her and tried to talk with her. (“You’re really angry, huh?”  “No! I’m not!” So much for “talking so kids will talk.” Or whatever.)

Eventually, she chilled out, and I sat on her bed and told the girls–to the best of my memory–the story of Peter Rabbit. (Telling a story about a naughty bunny who nearly gets made into a pie was, for me, anyway, a good way to channel my feelings at the moment.)

It was my astute husband who suggested the connection between this behavior (which he’s had the pleasure of experiencing on recent occasions, too) and the end of school. And he’s almost definitely right. Clio likes and needs routine. She likes school. And she probably doesn’t like the fact that her little world is about to be shaken up.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll start the girls in a two-days-a-week “camp” program, which is really a  daycare center — the only place we could find that would take the girls less than five days a week for the summer. (Why do all summer programs seem to be 5 days a week, when so many preschools offer 2 and 3 day options?) And hopefully Clio will settle into that routine and stop being a bad bunny. Regardless, she’s probably going to be very happy to go back to school in September. Like mother like daughter.

Anyone else’s kids losing it on account of the school year ending? (Somehow I imagine this doesn’t happen as frequently with kids 13 and up…but maybe I’m wrong.)

P.S. — You can still win a free copy of EDEN LAKE (to keep, or to give away to a friend!) over at She Is Too Fond of Books. And thank you SO much to those of you who have bought / read / and commented on the Baby Squared Facebook page about EDEN LAKE. And extra special thanks to those who have left reviews at Amazon!

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