Thursday, January 5, 2012

Suzi: Little girl, big imagination

So here is the long-awaited Suzi post.

Oh, Suzi, my firstborn. If ever there were a lesson in learning to discover your child, and not try to mold them into a preconceived notion, Suzi is it. And I am so glad.

The day of our mid-pregnancy ultrasound, Jordan and I invited my parents along to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. When the announcement was made, I said "YYYYES!" I envisioned a future of teensy jewelry and little pink baby shoes and a lavender nursery with lots of pink stuff in it. I thought of all the girly stuff I liked as a child and dreamed of sharing it all with my daughter.

Her first Halloween we dressed her as a tiger, but I tied bows onto the ears so people would know she was a girl tiger. We dressed her in frilly dresses and put bows in her hair for a while. But soon she started to develop her own unique fashion sense. She wanted to wear pants, not skirts or dresses. Nothing too girly. Eventually she began requesting clothes that were boy-ish. She finds fault with so many girls' clothes, even the shirts and pants, that I sometimes just buy boy's stuff for her. This Halloween she asked me to make her a Musketeer costume.

While most little girls pretend to be the mommy or princess, Suzi is the daddy or the prince. She puts on a deep voice, brandishes a play sword and hums dramatic music as she rescues Ivey from a dragon. She watches Tangled and assigns Ivey the role of Rapunzel. Suzi is "Flem" Rider (Eugene). And the best part of all this is that she's a good actor. She commits. She took a drama class recently and I think she might grow into it and want to be in some plays when she's a bit older.

She makes herself costumes. Rain boots are a staple, whether she is playing Santa or a prince or several other things. She ties a scarf or playsilk around her neck and calls it her tie. Sometimes she wears long ties, and sometimes she prefers a bowtie. In fact, on my crafting to-do list is a set of bowties for Suzi. Her favorite plaything is the basket of dress-up clothes we keep in the bottom of our hall closet.

Suzi's other main interests are drawing and writing. I started her out on Oak Meadow's kindergarten curriculum. We did a letter a week with review weeks every three letters. The thing is, Suzi already knows most of the letters and is itching to spell words. My mom works with her when she's at her house, and Suzi will take off on her own, writing a bunch of letters and a few short words in her free time. After learning that tricky Z, she can write her name. Her other favorite words to write: Ivey, toy and "at" words. My mom made her a little book of words ending in "at." Once when we were in the dollar store she begged for a Toy Story word search book and we bought it for her, figuring she could at least color in it even though it was really for an older child. Instead, she took it and began copying the words out of it--long words--and then asked us what she had written. She loves to write the word sister. I think for her official kindergarten year of homeschooling I am going to use the Oak Meadow science, math, health, and other activities we haven't done yet and unschool/supplement if necessary for reading and writing. If we let her lead the way, we'll be fine.

Sympathy note for Ivey, who had bumped her nose on the stairs. Suzi asked us how to spell the words.

What perhaps stands out to me most about Suzi is her love for creating. She draws constantly, and if she sees me taking something out of a box, or throwing something away, she will ask if she can have the item being discarded. She dresses her stuffed animals and herself in scraps of wool left over from my sewing projects. She turns cardboard boxes into cars and all sorts of things. Every day at least once I hear, "can I have that (thing going in the trash/recycling)?" It can be my spaceship!" Or a car, or a present, or a bed for Shroom, which is another story. On Christmas Eve, all by herself, she drew everyone a doll or a toy soldier, folded them up and asked me for the materials to individually wrap them. She is so thoughtful and loves to bring joy to others with her art.

For Grandma - a toy soldier under a rainbow

The flip side? She has never gotten excited over being led through a specific craft project or helping in a prescribed manner in the kitchen. She'll do it, but she much prefers to do her own thing and that has taken some getting used to for me and, even more, for my mom. Who doesn't want their little granddaughter to don an apron and spend some quality time learning Grandma's favorite cookie recipe? It's okay, though. Her imagination, individuality and natural drive to create are going to take her places. With Suzi, my most important role is to protect and nurture these gifts. Doing a better job of that is one of my goals for the new year.

That curly little head is full of beautiful ideas just waiting to be born.