Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Today's assignment: compare and contrast

This is the last week of school, and the walls of the classrooms, usually decorated with brightly colored student artwork, are empty save the faded construction paper backgrounds that have yet to be ripped down. Both of my kids have been coming home each day loaded down with armloads of papers and projects as their teachers scramble to get everything sent home before the children scatter for the summer.

There's nothing like the end of a school year to get me nostalgic about my kids' growth and development. Faced with a year's worth of schoolwork and memories, I find myself caught in that familiar parental trap of wistfulness and pride. Julia in particular has grown up so much this year. When I think back on those first few weeks of school spent holding my breath and praying that she'd be able to make this work, it's hard to believe that she's the same confident kid who's now 100% in the mix at school, both socially and academically. Julia found her fit here. The structure and discipline that continue to throw me a bit are a perfect match for her personality and interests, and she's thrived both in the classroom and out of it. For all of my worries early on, this move has probably been the best thing we ever could have done for her.

How to capture the change I've seen in my child this year? Photographs don't do the comparison justice; a few inches are the tip of the iceberg where Julia's growth is concerned. Words fail me here as well; they have too many meanings and it's hard to convey just the ones that fit. Kids are, by definition, growing up all the time. How to describe quite how dramatic this year's evolution seems to me right now? I finally found the answer today while sorting through piles of projects, trying to decide what to hold on to and what to quietly recycle while the kids are still at school. Julia, it turns out, illustrated her own development this year better than I ever could.

When asked to draw a picture of herself for a project done last fall, this is what Julia proudly produced, a lovely -- albeit crude -- drawing of her smiling self:

When faced with the same assignment last week, something dramatically different emerged:

I brought a preschooler to London and now I have a little girl. I see the changes in Julia in so many ways; in her knowledge, her interests, her self confidence and her sense of humor. But most importantly, I see the changes (right here in black and white) in how she views herself.


Blogger Gina said...

::: tears ::: Isn't it amazing to *see* them grow like that?

3:00 AM  
Blogger Iota said...

Isn't it incredible how much they develop in a year? I enjoyed this post, and your daughter's pictures too. As you say, an insight into how she views herself, as well as her drawing skills. I'm so glad the move worked out well for her, school-wise.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Wow, great way to illustrate (ha!) the change. You have an awesome little girl.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Aww. *sniffle, sniffle*.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

So sweet. What a transformation.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Cindy R said...

Rebecca, I haven't read your blog in a bit and am having fun 'catching up'. I love your writing style and think anyone moving overseas should be given a link to SOTP. This entry actually made me cry. They do grow fast, but you're appreciating it!

2:09 PM  
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