Our live-wire Sophie turned 6 on Boxing Day and we celebrated in sunshine with Grandma and Granddad.
She waited patiently for all the house to wake, before opening her presents. She waited an hour and a half. Impressive! She was bestowed with lovely gifts including Lego, a fairy field-book and Barbie dolls. A cake was baked over breakfast, for later in the day – which Birthday girl and her younger sister contributed to (by licking the bowl after the mixture had mostly been poured in the cake tin to bake!).
We had a bit of a discussion about what to do for the day, the weather so glorious and the choices so plentiful. Eventually, Sophie headed out for a game of ten-pin bowling with her Daddy, before meeting up with the rest of us at the Southern Cross for a fabulous lunch in the sunny garden courtyard.
We spent the afternoon meandering down Cuba Street and playing by the bucket fountain with balloons and bubbles, dancing to the music of a couple of young buskers playing tunes on their recorders and having a nose in the eclectic mix of shops.
What a year this has been, full of unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows! We didn’t have the ‘terrible twos – or threes’, but this year has really been a challenging one for us on the parenting journey…
Our highly excitable & energetic Sophie. You’ve learned so much and been through so many experiences this year (and taken your Mum and Dad on quite a roller-coaster ride!).
You started the year loving books and listening to them being read to you and have turned six as an extremely fluent reader of chapter books. You started the year writing your name, a few words and lots of letters, you’ve ended the year writing pages. You’ve written stories, poems, letters, cards, blog posts and more.
You dance with wild flair in your own special style – saying, ‘I prefer free range dancing’.
Heading out on bike rides with your Daddy is a favourite activity. You can swim okay too and love playing in the water, but could do with some lessons to improve (which you refuse).
You started to learn to horse ride this year, after asking to learn since the age of two, and even went on your first trek… which you loved so much. But unfortunately nerves and anxiety have put a pause to riding.
Drama should be your middle name. You can turn on the tears in a split second and be smiling again within minutes.
You flutter like a butterfly from one thing to the next, but with the noise of a giant Galah. Only Lego will hold your focus for a longer duration, which you work on with tireless determination.
We love to hear you play the piano with lovely posture and poise, confidence and a sense of accomplishment. Keep up the practice as you are doing great in playing with both hands, keeping time to the music and reading music. You’re also developing a good ear for music and we like hearing you sing along. You only had a few actual lessons, whilst at our local school – which you soon asked to stop – and have since been mostly teaching yourself (with some advice from me here and there… of course I love to play piano too).
You are always seeking recognition and an audience, praise and reassurances of our love, which you have in over-flowing bucket loads. Of course we love you so much!
At times you really love to be boss and do things on your own terms. We call for manners, a gentle voice, a persuasive argument to join in a game. We ignore demands and orders – though there’s a Sergeant Major deep within you that isn’t always willing to be moderated! You like to lead, but we won’t always agree to following. Other times you can be extremely thoughtful, emphatic and considerate, willing to change our plans for the day to work around your younger sister who needs a nap every day.
You have a very cheeky smile and laugh, as well as a clever mind. You are very good with numbers and enjoy mathematics. You like to bake and create (& make lots of mess).
You are very attached to your family and home. In our company your confidence appears unshakeable at times. You are always the first to run and answer a ringing telephone or to ask for water, a napkin or cutlery at a cafe. You will strike up a conversation with anyone who will listen – no matter their age or where we are.
This past year with you Sophie has been a bumpy ride of change and trying to find a path that we can all walk on strongly together. You started school in February with absolute confidence and thrived in term one. We never anticipated a dramatic change of course in term two. You were placed in a new class, with a new teacher. The class size was double. You felt lost in the noise and uninspired. The learning not challenging enough to hold your interest. The four walls of the classroom too small to contain you. We tried, but we couldn’t make things work. In the end we withdrew you from our local school (as school isn’t compulsory till the age of six in New Zealand). We are so sad it didn’t work out. We always thought you’d thrive at school – as you seem so outwardly confident and are so bright. But, you weren’t getting the attention and stimulation you crave. You’re not daft and being told to constantly, ‘Hold up your hand,’ on the one in twenty chance you may be picked to answer a question (which you could have answered when you were three) wasn’t very appealing to you.
In a the few weeks of that second term at our local school you changed from being independent and confident, away from home, to nervous and anxious without your Mum and Dad. You started sleeping in our bedroom, went to the toilet seemingly a hundred times a day (& night) and no longer felt confident being dropped off for play-dates with friends without us.
Meanwhile, your older sister had started a new school in term three and was thriving. Should we try a different school – though it came with fees we could barely afford? Try we did, in term four, as we only wanted to do the right thing. You said you were keen and at first things seemed right – but the stitch work soon started to unravel, anxiety, tears and talks with your caring, amazing teacher soon followed.
By the end of the term we all felt the strain. The brush of anxiety was touching us all with concern and frustration. Above all else, we wish for your happiness. We still feel absolutely gutted that things didn’t work out for you. You pleaded to be home-educated again. We talked and talked. And, in the end… we took the bold move to choose home-education – for a while. The application for an exemption certificate to home-educate has been sent off – we wait now for approval.
Where this seventh year of her life will take us is anyone’s guess!
We hope to see you celebrate your 7th Birthday with renewed inner confidence, independence and self esteem. Your incredible energy channelled and put to good use. Friendships with children in our local community extended and developed.
It’s going to be a very busy year for your Mum and Dad (particularly Mum – caring for Alice too – who will turn two and still breastfeeds night and day!). We hope you read this one day and realize the time, love, energy and thought we have put in, and will continue to put in, to help guide you on your path to adulthood.
So Happy Birthday to our now 6 year old! Keep believing in magic and fairies, keep wishing on stars and hopefully you shall feel strong to fly a little further from your loving home in time. X