|Putting Silver Star Stickers on her little S|
|The S Table|
|A Painted Wooden Star|
|A Strawberry Smoothie Sipped Through a Straw|
|Star Sandwich Up So High|
|Sisters Sharing Ice Cream Sandwiches|
|Sisters in Swimsuits|
|Going Strawberry Picking|
|Very Cute Little Sister|
|Very Cute Big Sister in her Strawberry Dress|
|Drinking Frozen Strawberry Lemonade|
|Drinking Strawberry Milk|
|Stuffing Her Face|
|Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream|
Penelope has always had friends everywhere she goes, but playdates were occasional, most of her time spent with friends was at storytime, or music class, with a playdate at the playground afterwards sometimes. But as winter ended and spring began Penelope suddenly began to ask for me to arrange playdates for her. We met friends at the playground when the weather was mild, Penelope proudly helped me to make a snack for her to serve her guest when a friend came to our house, and she bravely went to her first playdate at a friend's house without me. Suddenly she had playdates 4 or 5 times a week and we were not doing any homeschooling at all. We had moved from P to Q and her interest dwindled, and when we got to R she was happy to go to Gooseberry Island to climb on, gather, and identify rocks, but that is all we did for R week. And the next week I never mentioned preschool, and she never thought of it. I hoped she would ask about it, but realized that if she didn't it was really o.k. with me. She'll learn all this stuff anyhow, whether I teach it to her or not. And I still knew I didn't want preschool to become something mandatory, something to be dreaded or bored by. And anyhow, she was still learning. She was learning about relationships with other people. She was learning to share and to get along, learning to argue, figure it out, resolve conflict and compromise, she was learning lessons in how to remember that she still has to obey the rules of her family, even if her friend doesn't follow the same rules, especially the one about not leaving the mulch around the playground area and going to play beneath the huge tree on the other side of the common where your mama can't see you. And of course, she was still learning other things too. She spent more time drawing on her own, and suddenly began to present me with pictures she'd made of horses with long, flowing manes, round people with 5 fingers and 5 toes, smiling sunshines with long rays, and flowers with happy faces and individual petals. And coloring became serious work. She was now coloring in the lines, and concentrating very hard on her work, presenting me with a finished piece of work that was colored perfectly, the crow was black, the branch brown, the leaves green. A part of me felt a little sad at it's perfection, I always enjoyed the wild and crazy rainbow colored pictures she made. Happily, the next picture she colored was a wild, pink bird sitting on an orange and purple branch. So, yes, she could color it the way it "should" look, but she could make it her own too. She also began swim lessons and learned to swim so well that she has been placed in a class with 7 year olds because she is such a great little swimmer. So lots and lots of learning has been going on here, despite the fact that no school has been happening.
And so it has gone for weeks and weeks, until one day last week when we were playing a board game and she casually said "you know, we really need to get working on our alphabet tree, are we ever gonna do preschooling again?" I was so very happy, happy that she wanted to do it again, and happy that it was all her own choice to come back to it. And so early this week she joyfully decorated her S table with things from around the house that began with S. She made her big and little S for the tree. We ate spaghetti and sauce, drank lots of smoothies, made lots of different kinds of salads and sandwiches, painted stars, learned about starfish, visited snakes at the zoo, and went strawberry picking. It was a fun week, I'm looking forward to the letter T next week, and so is Pen. I want her to always love learning as much as she does now. Joyful, exciting, happy and fun. Exactly as it should be.