Look at this six-and-a-quarter-year-old. While some of her behavior reflects her mother as well as these shades do, so much of Clementine is so uniquely Clementine. Mostly, the conversations. Tonight she was trying to work out how she could have a baby that’s “made from her” while still marrying her friend Emilia. I dodged the details, but this is what she thinks about before bed (when not going over every little detail of the latest Harry Potter chapter)! At dinner she talked about wanting to visit the Great Wall of China (but flying around the earth to get there, not digging through its core because that’d kill her), and at breakfast we discussed the differences between coincidence, correlation and causality. In other words, every conversation with this child is delightful. Which is not to say that SHE is always delightful – she still whines and blames and refuses to answer you when she wants to (after Spring Break she yelled at me, “WHY did you make us have such an adventurous trip, didn’t you KNOW that we were going to be EXHAUSTED when we got back?”).
In fact, this girl is reluctant to go to school any morning, but that’s just because she isn’t a morning person. It turns out that she’s quite the academic! This last report card was pretty awesome – all 4s (like A’s) in academics and all 4s except for a 3 on the behavior front! She got the 3 in “Respects self and others.” I’m just going to guess that it’s the “others” part that was lacking here, because Clementine has plenty of self-respect! Here she is learning to be a badass from an awesome book called, “Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls”
Clementine continues to be more academic and artistic than she is athletic, although she continues to improve in swimming and is really enjoying the new little after school gymnastics program she and her sister have started going to. Her best moves are more theater than coordination, but it’s worth it to ask her to demonstrate her “flying butt slap” for you. Mostly, she’s active when it interests her. For example, she wept when we told her we had a steep mile hike out of Carlsbad Caverns (but then did great), but couldn’t get enough of running up and down the sand dunes at White Sands National Monument!
In general, Clementine is an absolute joy to be around… when things are the way she wants them. We’ve given up on forcing meat at dinner, for example, alternating between a cheese quesadilla and scrambled eggs (and lots of veggies) for her in the interest of a more peaceful evening. I even ordered special socks without seams so we could stop our daily 10 minute morning “my socks don’t feel right” ritual. We spent years trying to get her to bend to our will and improve her ability to “deal,” but frankly, life is a lot more fun and interesting now that we’ve started picking our battles more. She doesn’t get away with rudeness or leaving messes, but we’ve come to accept her quirks. The truth is, this kid is a natural born leader. And I look forward to the day when she is running the show and has actual hired help to scramble her eggs and remove all lumps and seams from her socks!
This kid blows me away nearly every day.
From her deep questions (in the car the other day, “Do you think humans will evolve into a more advanced species? How, and when?”) and thoughts (at breakfast, “I’m never going to be younger than I am right now. Or now. Or now! It’s amazing!”) to her surprise presentations (this week she sent Marc and me a powerpoint – which I didn’t even know she knew how to do – about why we should get her a dwarf hamster), I never know what she’ll come up with next. And I love it.
Annabelle had some big accomplishments the past couple months, like being one of only a few kids accepted into the Duke TIPS program for gifted children, to winning 4th grade gold at the school science fair (and going to her first regional fair), to making great strides with backbends and walkovers in gymnastics (both kids started gymnastics in January), to getting a couple of bullseyes in archery (her new favorite activity). That last piece is especially impressive since we recently took her to the eye doctor and found out her eyesight has deteriorated significantly since we got her new glasses in August. We can’t wait to see how she does with her new glasses at this weekend’s lesson!
Annabelle’s teacher conference a few weeks back was hilarious. We walked in and they immediately started laughing, “BOY do we have a lot to talk about,” they joked – and then went on to say that Annabelle is an absolute joy. She is clearly at a level of intelligence far beyond others, constantly participates (they often say, “does anyone other than Annabelle want to answer this?”) but never calls out the answer or is rude about her proficiency. She always helps others in class, and they generally just worry about how to challenge her. She rushes through work too quickly sometimes and could write with more detail, but all in all they couldn’t stop gushing. It was a pretty proud day for us parents J
Over the past couple months we’ve seen a little moodiness in Annabelle, especially when it comes to putting up with her sister and even in some instances with Diane (she knows she can get away with more with Diane vs. her parents). We hear this is very normal for tweens, and it is pretty minor in the grand scheme, but it serves as a bittersweet reminder that our little girl really is growing up. I can’t believe that we only have one more elementary school year after this one (and the only reason she’s not going to skip it, she told us, is because 5th grade has the best field trips). Also worth noting – according to her 9 year well check, that “growing up” will likely be all the way up to 6 feet – she is getting SO tall! We’re beyond curious and excited about the adult Annabelle will one day become, but it’s all happening WAY too fast for our liking.
I don’t think I’ve known a six year old that was a bigger combination of sweet, smart and sass as our girl.
All you need is a Clementine hug to know what I mean by this. But, for example, she also ALWAYS says “I’ll take the smaller half” when she splits things, even her favorite treats (chocolate, cookies, candy – a note that she still doesn’t like anything donut-related, not even Café du Monde beignets!). And when we told her a sitter was going to take care of her during the school day while she had the flu, her response was, “Yay I love Emily!” and then a second later, “But I’m really worried that I’m going to get her sick!”
Clementine is really starting to blow us away both in her math abilities (mental math that comes up in conversation as well as the Dreambox online math she does) and especially in her reading. Over the past couple months, she has become OBSESSED with Harry Potter. We read it together before bed, but she reads extra chapters after we tuck her in and has even started bringing it to school (her kinder teacher told us she has never had to say to a kindergartener during recess, “Put the book down and go play!”). We were skeptical that she was comprehending everything when she read on her own but she has proven it by telling us what happened in the parts we weren’t there for. Oh – she also got first place in her first science fair – her analysis of cat, dog and human hair of all ages was fantastic!
Let’s just say that the first couple weeks of January were… rough. That girl had more tantrums and meltdowns in a couple weeks than she’d had in the past 6 months! Luckily this appears to have been a short-lived phase (the bummer of getting back into the school year after too much winter vacation fun? She also shot up an inch or two in that time, so it could’ve been growth-spurt related). Now, to see her sass you just need to watch her walk. I don’t know where she got her little waggle, but I do know that neither Annabelle nor I (nor any of my sisters or my mom) have ever managed to pull it off!
To focus on one more “S” word, man is this kid special. It was so nice to hear her kindergarten teacher talking about her at our teacher conference a few weeks back. Ms. Dunbar kept using the word, “Amazing” to describe both her academics and the insightful participation she brings to class. She also said Clementine’s behavior & listening has improved considerably since the beginning of the year, which we were a little nervous about (we’re assured it is “age appropriate”)! She mentioned that once Clem matures a bit (like in the next year or two) she could ABSOLUTELY handle skipping up a grade like her sister, which is something we won’t push but will keep an eye out for in the future.