Michael, you turned five years old today.
The past year has been an amazing year for you. A year ago I could easily pick you up and carry you around for some time. Now, when I pick you up, you start sliding out of my arms after just a few moments because you have gotten so heavy. But, your long legs stretch down so far, it's not like you have far to go when my arms give out. You've gotten so big this past year that several people have asked me what grade you are in! They are always surprised when I answer that you are in preschool.
In addition to your height, I think people also mistake your age because of the way you speak. Between your clear speech and vocabulary, you haven't sounded like a four year old since you were about two. Several of your teachers at school have commented on how they find themselves engaged in a conversation with you and forget that your just a little boy. While I'm used to that aspect of conversing with you, my big realization about your speech this year was that I no longer "scaffold" language with you. I used to try and speak just slightly ahead of where you were developmentally, but somewhere over the past year I realized I was simply speaking to you the way I do with everyone else. There were only a few times you needed clarification on a word, and a simple explanation seemed to do the job.
One of the most surprising things I learned about you this year is that you are a rule follower. Your teachers constantly tell me what a well behaved little boy you are. You've never been sent to the director's office, and as far as I know, they have never needed to put you into time out. In addition to being a rule follower, it disturbs you when other children break rules. While you refuse to tell me anything about your day at school, you frequently report on who has broken what rules and who has been sent to time out.
Your desire to follow the rules frequently comes in direct conflict with the fact that you dislike most rules. This has resulted in one of your biggest developments over the past year. You have become a hardcore negotiator. Instead of breaking the rules, you work very, very hard to change them. Some people find this very frustrating as they think little children should do what they are told. And, when it comes to health, safety, and respect for others that is true. But, I love this about you. I love the creativity it takes to come up with so many alternatives. I love the sensitivty it requires to try to understand the situation well enough to manipulate it. I love that you are willing to push against the status quo.
It does, however, make playing board games with you a nightmare. Playing Candyland with you is an exercise in pure torture, as you constantly try to change the rules to insure that you win. I confess, it was I who hid it from you.
One of the biggest changes you've made over the past year is that you have become more reasonable. You have always been a naturally contrary child, so much so that you would even defy things that are in your own best interest. Once you resisted something, you would always resist it. Now, however, you are willing to listen and consider changing your mind. This has lead to significantly fewer tantrums, in the past six months. I think everyone is happier for this development.
One thing that has not changed in the past year is the fact that you hide your skills until you feel confident that you have mastered them. Last year you would draw free hand, but refused to color because you were unable to stay within the lines. Lots of practice over the year has allowed you to develop very good coloring skills, however you stopped drawing free hand because your pictures didn't look exactly like what you wanted them to look like.
The biggest skill that you have been hiding is how well you can read. Despite the fact that your teacher is frequently telling me how well you can read, you refuse to do it for me. I've given up trying to explain to her that you'll do things for her that you won't do for me, and I just nod and say yes. However, while you won't sit down and read to me from a book, you frequently give yourself up accidentally. You'll ask for something in the grocery store that you could only know by reading the package, you'll comment on something you read along the side of the road, and sometime you even slip up and read something in a book like "Silvisaurus" because you are too excited to remember that you don't read for me.
This past year has been exciting, and it make me even more excited to think of what is to come over this next year as you continue to grown, mature and learn. I cannot wait to see the changes that take place as you transition from daycare into Kindergarten.