Another first day of school! Today Reese had his first full day this year at Sabot and will be back full-time as of Monday. In a groundbreaking morning for our family, he was the only one of his brothers who was fully on-board with the day's plan (Xander is bummed not to ride the bus; Griff declared himself sick of school after 2 days) and got dressed right down to his new tennis shoes (no Crocs allowed) without a hitch. Here he is, ready to hop into the car with his backpack and lunchbox:
...oh, and brandishing his new stick "gun", too. Lovely. He was pointing it at a neighbor there and I had to suggest that perhaps she might not like being shot at by the neighbor kid. You know, the neighbor kid whose mother was photographing him pointing a weapon at people. Niiice. Have to admit, though, this stick makes a particularly awesome gun.
Back to school: he had a great day, building inside, having a picnic snack on the carpet, and visiting the forest. And apparently he taught his class the Witch Doctor song!
Flexibility is the name of the game now that he has turned the corner from three to four. While he's still our same old creature-comforts Reesie, he's increasingly able to go with the flow, looking forward to going to familiar places, handling new situations with more ease, and changing course and handling frustrations with much more grace. This is not to say that he has become a laid-back and ultra-compliant kid - I'm sure he'll retain his spirit for as long as he lives - but this summer marked a real shift for him in being able to go out and enjoy the world around himself.
Returning to Sabot has thrown a spotlight on the big changes that happened over the last three months: he has had a HUGE language boom, and a surge of confidence and independence. Last week his half-hour visit to his new classroom was probably the most fun date I've had with him, ever. He beamed as he headed straight down the path to his classroom, immediately greeted one of his teachers (Kara, who worked as a social coach in his classroom last year and who has a fantastic bond with Reese) and showed her a dead cicada he had brought, then went and engaged in several different classroom activities. No hesitation, just a total sense of knowing this place and being comfortable there. I noticed that he's interacting more with other kids, and with the materials in the classroom. Kara observed the big jump in language skills and she and I also discovered at the same time that he might be doing some addition - he showed me some magnifying glasses and said something about the five of them, and while I was trying to decide whether to correct him (I only saw three), he said "three here, and two over there. Five magnifying glasses." Huh. Didn't know you could do that, kid!
This afternoon he got a piece of cold pizza out for himself (putting away the box neatly, this is new) and when I asked if there were more, he told me there were three pieces. I got a piece for myself, then asked him: there were three pieces. Reese ate one, Mommy ate one, how many are left? He didn't miss a beat: "one." Nicely done! (No, he hadn't seen the inside of the box.)
Along with this new ability to manipulate numbers is some interest and skill in building. In the last few days he has built long winding railroad tracks and a block configuration he calls a "PacMan maze" after the style of the pathways in the arcade game that he loves to watch us play at New York Deli. This is a big change coming from a kid who has never really shown an interest in construction-type play. Interest in puzzles is starting to appear, interest in body systems, careful balancing of marble runs, and more elaborate pretend-play scenarios.
Reading might also be starting to click. This afternoon while reading a naptime story to Xander, Reese was following along the words with a finger and seems to have the idea of one written word representing one spoken word, even picking out a couple of the words for me when I asked him which word looked like "fuzzy" or "soft". No interest in writing yet, although maybe the sign-in sheet at school will help to encourage that. He does like to spell his name.
I noticed the other day that Reese asks questions in a way that Griff never has. Griff observes and draws conclusions; he connects data points. Reese generates questions, with each answer leading him to a new question. He wants specificity - exact names for things, exact answers to questions - and is quick to determine when facts given to him don't fit a particular situation, and to inquire about it.
The overall sense I get from Reese these days is one of emerging competence and control, and it's really fun to watch this process unfold.