Due to various factors, it has come to pass that Cordelia has been the subject of a parent-teacher interview several months before her older sister will be. I was supposed to meet with Cordelia's nursery school teachers back in December, but I barely had time to breathe let alone sit around talking about my kids (usually my favourite pastime). So I finally managed to meet with Lakeisha and Simone a couple of weeks ago.
My original thought was, this is going to be kind of pointless; Cordelia's two, she plays in water and makes pictures and builds towers out of blocks. How much is there going to be to say? But as it turns out I am really glad I went because hearing about how she behaves in school has given me a whole perspective on Cordelia.
Apparently Cordelia is very focussed in class; she will work on something for ten or fifteen minutes. If you know anything about two-year-olds you know how weird that is; usually they do stuff for a couple of minutes then move on to the next thing. The "Your X-Year-Old" series of books has a little overhead diagram of a room with various activities set up, and then a map of a typical kid's path through that room, and the map for the two-year-old is like a bowl of spaghetti. Not Cordelia. I saw an example of that focus in action the other day at supper as she painstakingly shelled three snow pea pods. (Ever since we gave them edamame my kids have had trouble knowing what peas need to be shelled.) She apparently also comes back to things; the teachers know to leave her pictures or whatever out because she'll come back later to work on them.
She has only been talking at school since after Christmas; she's been talking for us for ages, but she held back at school and now they're astounded at her voice. Well, mostly the other children. "She talks!" But what Lakeisha and Simone actually said — and if you know Cordelia in person you should make sure you're sitting down right now — is, "They're surprised when she talks because she's usually so quiet." Quiet! Apparently the Cordelia at school is the quiet, studious Cordelia.
She's also observant; she was the first and only kid to notice a new science table the day I went to visit, and she examined everything on it with her (apparently) usual thoroughness.
I am really pleased I went to the meeting and was able to hear about this other side of Cordelia. I think the problem with having exactly two kids is that you end up forcing them into false dichotomies: Delphine is the quiet one, therefore Cordelia must be the loud one; Delphine is the studious one, therefore Cordelia must be the flippertigibbet. This was an excellent reminder that it is profoundly important to step back and see my children for who they really are, not just who they aren't because that's who their sister is. Otherwise I risk missing the most wonderful and interesting parts of them.
This has also made me really glad that I put Cordelia in nursery school, despite the gruelling mess it makes of my day twice a week. (I'm the mother, what the hell else am I doing anyway?) It's such a great opportunity for her to blossom outside of the home and away from her sister and me.
And finally, I am very excited about Delphine's parent-teacher interview. What surprises has my oldest been hiding? What will I learn about her? I can't wait.