Thursday, May 14, 2009

Self-Portrait at Four Years and Ten Months

One of the works at Will's Montessori preschool is Self-Portrait--at its own little table, the teachers have set up a mirror, large papers, and art supplies. At four years and ten months, here is Willow's self-portrait:

I've mentioned before how touched I am by how Willow sees and how she tends to make so beautiful the things that she's seen, but this is the first time, I think, that she's turned that focused sight upon herself.

I have been increasingly interested, though, in how Willow does see herself, because the heart of her latest growth stage has manifested in an hysterical shyness. It's hard to watch, both because I'm miserably shy myself and so I know how small and shameful that often makes me feel, but also because I'm so freakin' proud of my kids, and I can hardly stand it that Will's increasingly unwilling not just to show herself off, but also simply to participate.

School birthday, then, was pretty sad for me inside of my own head. You might remember that last year I cried to watch my kid participate in her class' beautiful ceremony--carrying the globe around the ellipse as many times as the Earth has circled the sun since she was born, listening with her teachers and schoolmates as her dad and I read her biography, standing in the middle of the ellipse while the rest of the class sings the "Tall Tree" song to her. Will did want, desperately, to carry the globe around the ellipse, but she just couldn't hack it. Heck, she could barely stand to even exist in this world while Matt read her biography:
(Excuse my inelegant removal of little faces that don't belong to me. I should have just painted the entire background black, perhaps?)

Thank gawd that school birthday includes a feast of healthy party food, or she probably would have insisted on skipping school altogether that day: I did, however, with no apologies, boot her into the circle with the other birthday honorees so that we could sing the "Tall Tree" song to her. That song is my favorite part of her entire birthday experience, including her real birthday and family party and party with friends, etc. (the walk around the ellipse holding the globe being my second favorite part of her entire birthday experience, OF COURSE). And if I'm going to struggle, in a mere two months, through the making of an ice cream cake with cookies on top, as the birthday child is currently demanding (is it just me, or are the birthday cake requests getting increasingly elaborate each year?), then I am going to have my favorite moment.

I figure you're allowed to tell compassionate parenting to suck it once every few months. Am I right or am I right?


Unknown said...

And when you come back home, what kind of cake will she want her Aunt Pam to make?

julie said...

Ice cream + cookies + DINOSAURS!!!

I was just thinking about last year's cake, actually, while the girls were playing with those dinosaurs and the prehistoric placemat-thing that came with it. I mean, how extra-awesome is a birthday cake that comes with its own set of toys?

cake said...

a very sweet post.
the montessori birthday ritual does sound so wonderful. she's experiencing it, and benefiting from it in her own way though, right?

i hear ya, on that final thought.

Abby said...

you are RIGHT.

julie said...

Yeah, if nothing else then I'll have the memory of what a goof she was a four years and ten months, and I can tell her later. Perhaps it will join the stories I tell her about herself in regular rotation--how one day I came into the room and found her sitting on her newborn sister's stomach, rocking and singing "Sittin' on my sister! Sittin' on my sister!", or how I used to ask her what she had dreamed about every morning when she woke up, and she would always list a slew of farm animals and the noises they make--"I dreamed of a sheep, Momma. It say baa."

Course now I probably can't say even a little suck it to compassionate parenting again until at least August. There go group swimming lessons...