My 5 year old
Síofra turned five last week. I think every child's birthday provokes reflection from her mother. She has been surprising us since the day she was born but she's grown up and changed so much this year that, in the Corkonian words of my sister-in-law, it's unbelievable.
Here's a summary of Síofra at 5 years old:
School: Síofra loves school; she loves her teacher, Mrs. Dunphy; she loves her friends there, especially Kelly, Diana, Powell and Christian; she loves doing her homework; she really loves P.E.; and her favourite part of the day, she says, is yard time. Sometimes when I'm on my break I look out our staffroom window and I can see her out on the yard playing. Usually she's running around the tree, sometimes she's playing with the hula-hoops. She always looks happy, and above all, I'm thrilled that she's enjoying school so much.
Reading: Síofra's class have been preparing to read for months, and finally got really going in March. Over the Easter break something clicked for Síofra, and now she's a reading machine. It's as if her eyes have been opened to every sign we pass, every word she sees on a billboard, and to all of her books at home. It's really exciting to see.
Paddy: A year ago, I never imagined Síofra and Paddy would have the relationship they have now. They are really best friends. Of course, they annoy each other, and even fight sometimes. But most of the time they play together and have great fun, and they have the most interesting conversations. Most of their games are imagination ones, and most of the time Síofra is either Paddy's mother or teacher. It usually involves a bit of bossiness but mostly her having an air of authority. He doesn't seem to mind. They had a great performance last week when some classical music was on the radio-Síofra was a princess who was dying (very dramatially) and Paddy was the "handsome prince" (his new name for himself) who discovers her and kneels by her side. Daithí and I were awestruck by the complexity of the scene and by how fully they were in role. We were also cracking up.
Food: Síofra eats more than any other human being I know. She really loves food. And although she loves her goodies as much as the next person, above all she really loves good food. Her favourite meal is spaghetti and salad, but she also loves quiche and tofu. After her first few bites of dinner, she exclaims, "Delicious!" She usually has 2 or more helpings at dinnertime. She has such a healthy shape to her-not skinny, not chubby, but incredibly strong. I love her approach to food, she really enjoys it.
Awareness of the World: Síofs is always surprising us with how much she understands about the wider world. She's very interested in different places and their cultures. It helps that her best friends at school are Rwandan, Romanian, Fillipino and Mongolian. Something was on the news recently about a war, and she asked if "those men are in a bad army, like Isreal." She has great sympathy for Palestine, and enjoys chanting "Free, free, Palestine!" at the top of her lungs. Granted, she's attended more than her fair share of Palestinian demonstrations, and sometimes I've wondered if knowing about the violence and injustice that happens in the world scares her. But so far, she just seems to be invested in what's right and wrong, what's fair and unfair, and she seems to understand that it's good to have an opinion. That makes me happy.
There's so much I could say about Síofra, but suffice it to say she's an amazing little girl who is a joy to be around.