Saturday, April 11, 2015

A room of her own

What does it mean to be three years old? It means you finally get a room of your own! Since Ashley rarely sleeps on her own, we hadn't converted the fourth bedroom from the home office into her room. However, it's really time, as Tyler is starting to become more territorial - he makes imaginary boundaries in the living room, and has started to order her out of his room. I set aside several hours on Easter Monday to clear out part of the room, and carve out space for her. It's a work in progress, but now she knows that here is a space that is wholly her own, where she can put her own treasures. The kids are still fluid in where they play, but eventually I imagine we might start to reclaim more and more of the first floor, and their rooms will become their domains, their hideouts, their places to make their own, their areas of responsibility. Slowly in these small increments, the baby clothes and toys are packed up, the wall decorations change, the books level up, the shoes get bigger.

Ashley is more aware now of the significance of cards, and of printed words on paper. She receives birthday cards and Valentines. In cleaning up, I've come across birthday cards from past years, addressed to her long before she was able to read them (1st birthday, etc.). I'm going to pass a few of these on to her. She likes looking at the few cards she has: taking them up and putting them back in their envelopes, delivering them to herself through a complicated mail delivery system involving a mail truck, and pretending to read them. I think she will be able to pick up the letters before she starts JK next September. She seems to have an interest - she already knows some of them.

She will start with a Lego theme in her room. I received a large promotional cutout of the Lego Movie, and had ordered some Lego wall decals. I also gave her 1600 basic blocks for her birthday. She likes the Lego Friends mini-set I gave her, which is making me relent somewhat on Lego Friends as a "girl-friendly" version of the mainstream. The not-used-as-such train table may end up as the Lego table.

Even though it took so long, I'm enjoying the prospect of setting up her room, not as a baby room or nursery, but as a preschool girl's haven, not so girly, but full of playful elements.

Saturday in Spring

The kids are 'big kids' now, being 4 and 3 years old. They are each others' best friends, and companions in play. They are improv partners: playing make-believe, building on each others' fluid imaginary worlds, and jumping on the bandwagon when something gets a rise out of the adults in the home.

Playing outdoors is a much easier proposition, as the older one can get himself ready, and the younger one can at least gather the necessary pieces, and put on, if not zip up, her jacket. They are purposeful, knowing what they wish to do outdoors, and are happy initially to run around and orient themselves to the mushiness or solidity of the ground, breathe in the fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun. It's also finally getting to be the time when moving the kids outdoors for a change of scenery is possible. The cloud of indoor irritability disperses when they cross the threshold to go outdoors. Those legs that kick out at a sibling indoors get busy climbing a slide, or jumping on sticks.

When we go out, they are able to wait for a table, seat themselves in chairs, and use cutlery. They can play with a few small toys before the food arrives, and when they are inevitably done first, go back to the toys for a while before getting restless.

The junior kindergartener continues to be happy at school, and to be picking up things from his peers as everyone becomes a little more verbal and a little more social. There is some playground rudeness that filters back, and we put him back in line. What can be negotiated on the playscape with rough words among the 4-6 year olds doesn't work at the dinner table (civilized company). This is the separation of the kids' world from the adult world. I already sense the divide - he complains "Adults are always telling the kids what to do," but also the aspirations: "Am I going to be an adult soon?"

Meanwhile, the newly 3-year is an accomplished mimic of her brother, and also of us. You can actually experience her learning new words and concepts as they happen.

Three and four are nice ages, when the best treat ever is still a Kinder Surprise Egg.