We had our co-op end-of-year picnic today, in rather cold, damp weather. Somewhat ironically, nearly all the families who actually showed up are the ones who drove 45 minutes to get there — the ones who live nearby decided to stay inside and miss it. Next year I want that picnic in the center city instead of the outer ring burbs!
No matter, really. We had a grand time — the kids who came made up a great group from ages 5-13. They played together so well I hated to leave — except that I was freezing — since we may not see some of these kids again until fall.
So that must mean co-op has been a success. I have just recently learned that Violet has been doing her little “dumbing down” act in science — basically, she spells things wrong on purpose because she feels very self-conscious about being different from her friends. Now that she’s older it’s much easier to point out that if a friend knows how to play the guitar, she would not expect her friend to pretend she didn’t. If a friend was a great piano player, she wouldn’t expect her friend to play badly on purpose. I feel safe in saying that in this group of kids that she has come to know, by and large differences are expected and accepted as the norm, hardly worth commenting on. In this setting, I think she is more likely to test the possibility that it is OK for her to be who she is — whether that’s brainy or spazzy. [Not that that can’t happen in school, but it sure wasn’t happening in her case.] That’s worth a lot.
The self-consciousness thing, on the other hand . . . well, that looks to be a lifelong issue that she’ll just have to deal with. A friend asked her to say something in Chinese today and she refused! She closes the windows to practice singing, and I can barely get her to sing in front of me even then. She doesn’t even really like to be praised for things too much. I know too well that this is a quirk of personality that I can’t really control . . . but it drives me nuts! (OK, I said it. Now I can go back to trying to accept it.)
Anyway, both Victoria and Violet have loved co-op as a place to make friends. We have an interesting mix of families, some conservative, some liberal, some suburban, some who live in the cities, some Christian(Evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic), some Jewish, some UU, some religion-free. We haven’t made great friends with a lot of people, but there have been enough people to mix with that we’ve found a place.
Next year Victoria will start a full range of subjects — Spanish, art, and science. Violet turned down Spanish, but we will have a local children’s author teaching a writing class for ages 9 and up, so she’ll be trying that in the fall. I like being able to give them a group learning experience, a chance to work with good teachers, and exposure to things that I would be unlikely to bring home.
And now I’m off to finish watching the Simpsons movie.