Tory's been on my mind a lot lately. It's one of those pivotal times in parenting I can see her changing and growing before my very eyes. Every day, she does something that makes me so proud to call her my daughter. And, if I'm being totally honest, there's usually a point each day when I force myself to dig deep to refrain from shouting "stop whining / throwing a tantrum / shouting demands at me like I'm your servant!" Oh, life with a three-year-old. So polarizing.
Anyway, first an update about preschool because I'm loving how well Tory's embraced her new ECFE class this year and I'm so gosh-darn proud of the way she's handled the transition of it all. Preschool class is a night and day difference from last year. I'm not sure if it's Tory's age and maturity level? The fact she's been exposed to this type of school setting before? Whatever the case, Tory is rocking school. So stinkin' proud of her!
For one, she struts into the school building with her head held high and little blue bucket placed confidently on her arm. She walks into her classroom, finds her name sign on the table to "check-in" (she can locate her name card by sight which is something I've noticed other 3YO classmates have trouble doing) and then runs right over to her teacher, Miss Janna, to say hello. The admiration Tory has for Miss Janna is adorable. She is enamored by this lady. I'm not sure if it's because Miss Janna is young and pretty or because she's someone Tory looks up to, but she loves her teacher. Yesterday, we were playing kitchen during the designated play time at the beginning of class and I asked Tory if she made me a cup of coffee. "No, Mom, this is for Miss Janna" Tory said, and ran all the way across the room to deliver the pretend cup of coffee to her teacher. She hangs on every last word Miss Janna says during Circle Time and dances right in front of her during songs -- like she wants to hoard every bit of Miss Janna's attention. One day the class was singing and dancing to a song about fish and Tory shouted aloud, "Miss Janna, I go swimming at my cabin!" so randomly in the middle of the song. Ha! I couldn't help but laugh to myself. I remember feeling the same way about my own kindergarten teacher. Back then, Ms. Neal was so nice and loving. She even dressed up as Viola Swamp in Miss Nelson is Missing! for Halloween my kindergarten year, and I'll never forget that. I think it's the same thing for Tory, this admiration for her teacher, and I love it.
Admittedly, I was overwhelmed on Tory's first day of preschool this year. I think it was "parenting nerves" I'd worked myself up over (the first days of school have always filled my stomach with butterflies) and the diversity and size of Tory's preschool class this year which had me worried she'd be overlooked in her classroom. Two weeks into the school year, and several kids in Tory's class have dropped to the afternoon session making the class size much more manageable. There's 12 kids in her class now versus 17 kids on the first day, and everything feels much less chaotic. Also, a very timely church sermon the first week of school about loving everyone helped knock me upside the head and realize every kid in Tory's class has the right to receive the same learning experiences as my child. (Thanks, God, I needed that.) There's a little more hub-bub in Tory's classroom with extra professionals to assist children with special needs, but that's alright. Clearly, Tory is loving school this year and is taking so much away from every gathering. I'm loving the dynamics in the parenting group that meets on Tuesday mornings, too. It's going to be a good year.
Speaking of church, I've started to make God a bigger priority in our lives. Summer is ... hard, I don't know, and we stopped going to church regularly during the warmer months. It's an excuse, but not a very good one. Now the school year has started, I'm making Wednesday night church service a part of our routine. I'd love to attend church together as a family, but it's just not feasible every week with Andi's busy work schedule and I can't let that stand in the way of forming a relationship between God and my kids, or from serving God in my own way. So, I've taken the kids to church by myself on Wednesday evenings the last few weeks and it's gone surprisingly well. I prepare hard for the 45-minute service with lots of books, quiet toys, busy bag activities, etc. for Tory and Aden to do and strategically sit in a pew close to the band so there's entertainment for the kids throughout the service. Aden loves the music, and dances along in my arms - it's adorable. And, Tory has been awesome during the service. Seriously, an absolute angel. She keeps busy with her activities, stays quiet and well-behaved. Two weeks ago, she even went up to the front by herself during the children's sermon and recapped to me what they talked about during our car ride home. I'm so, so proud of her actions. It makes my life a million times easier.
One of Tory's favorite characters right now is Olivia. Olivia reminds me a lot of Tory; they both have a great deal of confidence and imagination. She likes to watch the television episodes on Nickelodeon and a few weeks ago, I bought her a box set of Olivia books. These are not the books Andi will want to read to Tory at bedtime (heads up!) because they're long-winded with some complex dialogue, but Tory enjoys them so we've been reading them quite a bit. Anyway, yesterday I was feeding Aden a bottle in the rocking chair and Tory brought over a few books to read to us. She sat down on the foot stool, flipped open an Olivia book and began reciting almost every word by heart using the pictures on the pages as a guide. Tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to her tell us all about Olivia's adventure because, seriously, I could not believe Tory remembered all that detail! I was so proud of her for listening so intently to our time together reading those books. What a smart girl!
Tory has started to clean off her own plate after meal time, and put her own dishes in the dishwasher. I didn't tell her to do this; she just started doing it one day. Can I get a hallelujah?! It's moments like this that make me so proud of her. Like, maybe I am doing something right as a parent. It's a small glimpse into the future of a bigger, more grown up Tory Girl. I love it.
So anyway ... my girl. She's growing up fast and it's bittersweet. I find myself giving Tory extra hugs and kisses the last few weeks because she's just so darn wonderful most of the time. How did I get to be so lucky in this life of mine?