Six sounds so much older than five. And it is. But while it has been a tremendous growth year for Annabelle, part of me sees the amazing, unique, sensitive, sweet, silly and complex girl before me and knows that she has been like this from the start.
Annabelle is such a kindergartener! She loves her three best school friends, her nurturing and energetic teacher, anything pink and princessy, anything magical (especially if it has to do with Harry Potter) and especially anything having to do with horses. She alternates on what she wants to be when she grows up, but has mentioned such options as cowboy, president and Costco sample lady. She wants riding lessons more than anything (and has for a year), which we will probably start this year despite it being the most expensive, inconvenient and unsafe hobby around.
In so many ways, Annabelle is the easiest child in the world to parent. She almost never disobeys or gets into trouble, she’s blow-you-away smart (we especially appreciate that she taught herself to read, for example), she does her homework and practices piano daily on her own, she is enthusiastic about almost anything you put in front of her, and she freely gives us love and thoughtful gifts she has made herself. That said, she is so completely stuck in her own head that sometimes Marc and I have a hard time understanding her.
For example, she’ll decide she wants to surprise you, or create a complex pretend world, and if it doesn’t go exactly as planned, she’ll burst into tears. If she wants to tell you a joke or do a magic trick she’s already shared with you, she will get downright angry if you don’t pretend you’ve never seen/heard it before, as she’s requested. And some of her make-pretend stories are so slightly not-real that they are hard to keep up with (“No mom, remember Clementine is 4 and I’m 8 and we’re in a forest, not a field.”). She is also so “in her own head” that she has trouble with empathy. Some of this may be anxiety (she doesn’t know how to respond to people who are in pain or upset – and she will freeze when she panics). Some is, according to a psychologist I described this to, logic skills that are far beyond her age level (“well the reason she hurt herself is because she was running in the street, which you aren’t supposed to do”), and some seems to be a lack of awareness about the world OUTSIDE of her head (e.g. Clem turned the bath faucet on too hard and started to cry because it scared her – Annabelle just looked at her, wondering why it was scary, instead of turning it off or running for a parent).
All that said, sometimes it’s even more fun parenting such an incredible person because we don’t know what will happen next! While language continues to be Annabelle’s superpower (which we are feeding through her Spanish immersion curriculum at school), she has just completed 2nd grade math and is on an after-school Math Pentathlon team. She is not naturally coordinated (darn genetics!), but through intense focus, has mastered monkey bars, hanging upside down, and all kinds of other playground tricks (as with hula hoop, snapping and countless other things, she seems to always be the SECOND one in her class to master these skills). She seems to really enjoy piano and drawing, and definitely wants to do the business fair again next year.
It’s so hard to predict how all of these skills, talents, preferences and challenges will grow as Annabelle gets older. All we know for now is that we are beyond lucky that we get to be her partners in crime through it all!