Anna and Avery — in a nutshell

At five and three years old, Tracy's girls are growing bigger, stronger, smarter, sweeter. What will 2012 bring?

By Tracy Chappell
Anna and Avery — in a nutshell

Me and my girls. Photo by Shawna King Photography

I realized I’ve been blogging a lot lately about what we’re doing, but not really how we’re doing over here. I’ve been feeling an odd pressure to blog about more “commentable” topics, but I’ve been missing the catharsis of just blathering on about life without needing a hook. So tonight, I shall.
Christmas is pretty much wrapped up (except the actual event, of course) and the girls have been enjoying the prep, including using up all my tape to wrap random toys for each other and placing them excitedly under the tree. I’ve also been getting great entertainment by eavesdropping on their conversations around the nativity scene set up in our living room (to support Anna’s Catholic education!). It might as well be a Barbie house, the scenarios they’re cooking up with Mary, the wise men, et al. My favourite came from Avery: “Here Baby Jesus — I brought you some ice cream and Timbits in this little pot.”
Avery is so silly, so sweet, so suddenly inquisitive. She hasn’t had that thirst to learn that Anna did at that age, and I wondered if I should be concerned about it. Anna loved to be quizzed about letters and numbers, but Avery would pout and shut down whenever I tried to incorporate any learning into our reading or playing. I always tried to make it subtle and fun, but she knew I was testing her and would have none of that. So I was never sure how much Avery actually knew. But suddenly, she’s working hard to identify letters and numbers (“Is fourteen a four by itself, or with a friend?”), starting to print some of them and bring them excitedly to show me, eager to play “school” and “read” to me. And she’s doing it with a big smile on her face, which is lovely to see.
She wants to be a big girl so badly. She’s diaper-free except at night, but wants to ditch that diaper desperately. Trouble is, she still wakes up soaked every morning. I told her we’d try after Christmas; honestly, I know that night training involves lots of night waking and I’m OK with delaying that a little longer. But in other ways, she’s growing up so fast. She’s rocking her skating class and skated solo half the length of the ice last week. She’s always asking to read “chapter books” like Anna. Her vocabulary is expanding beautifully; she’s got wonderful no-nonsense insights and she’s picking up hilarious expressions and using them in perfect context. She loves to sing. And sing. And sing. Except at her Christmas concert, of course. This morning, she said to me,"I wish I was a dult [adult]!" I asked her why and she gave a big sigh. "I just want to drive a car!"
Anna is doing amazing in SK. She really thrives in the school environment and absolutely adores her teacher. She is reading mid-length books independently, and loves exploring the adventures of the Magic Tree House books with me. She’s working on printing and spelling (but the perfectionist in her hates misspelling things, which goes against the school’s “just print it how it sounds” approach). She’s making some new friends. She surprised me by confiding that she’s very nervous about her school concert next week — on stage. She’s doing great at hockey and tonight, swam a fair distance all on her own at swim class. Funny how you think such capabilities are so far on the horizon, but suddenly, they surround me.
I’ve written before about Anna’s “spiritedness” and we have our ups and downs. It’s like she works so hard to be her best at school (and I’m grateful she does), but has to have an outlet for her emotions somewhere. That’s at home. Especially with the excitement of the holidays, Anna is crackling — practically vibrating — with energy all day long. On the positive side, she’s thrilled about parties, activities, wrapping and gift-giving. After a very adult-oriented open house last week she said, “That was the best time. I’m going to remember this night for the rest of my life!” So it’s fun to get caught up in her enthusiasm. She’s also full of affection, writing me “love notes” and showering me with kisses and cuddles.
On the tough side, Anna doesn’t want anyone bringing her down from her eternal high — least of all, Mom and Dad with their rules and boring requests and demands (everything is boring these days!). Maybe it’s a five-year-old thing, but her sass and attitude are a big challenge these days. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain authority while letting her have a voice — because she has a very loud, strong, persistent voice. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for a harmonious holiday.
And how are Anna and Avery getting along? That’s a story for another post…
I’m excited about Christmas and all the family time on our immediate horizon and I think the girls will be delighted. But I find myself spending more time pondering the year ahead. I’m sort of anxious — strangely cautious — about it. I don’t know why. Maybe I'll just say cautiously optimistic. That sounds better. It’s a total crapshoot, isn’t it? No one can predict what will come, you just have to count your blessings, follow your heart, and hang on tight.
I’m going to follow the lead of a dear friend, who lives by this mantra: “Be bold, and let the mighty forces guide you.” Sounds good to me. 

This article was originally published on Dec 16, 2011

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