Life, liberty, and the pursuit of feliz-iness

Almost every day as we’re walking the block and a half home from school, Rosie tries out her newest Spanish word or phrase on me.

“Mama,” she’ll say with a conspiratorial smile, “Are you sorprendido, feliz, or enojado?”

I tell her it depends on which one means “hungry.”

I have known easily less than half the Spanish words that glide off her tongue during these sidewalk vocabulary lessons. Once, at the beginning of the year after she inquired if I was muy vien, I explained to her that it was actually “muy bien” with a b, chuckling at her adorable Kindergarten mispronunciation. Later that night as I was relaying the story to Luke, I was gently schooled in the existence of and proper use of the Spanish soft b. Which sounds like a v. And is totally used when asking someone if they’re muy bien.

Well, then. Color me sorprendido-ed.

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Kindergarten Rosie is so much different than Kindergarten Noah. The contrast between the ways they have each experienced the world since birth would make you think they live in alternate realities. Noah met Kindergarten with wide eyes, quietly followed rules, and a solemn, deep reverence for the noble pursuit of knowledge. Rosie hit the school door from day one with wide open arms, squeals of delight, and BFF necklaces for all.

But also: a solemn, deep reverence for the noble pursuit of knowledge. A common thread woven through two cloths of a very different color.

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The most recent unit of study in her class has been all things America: the Statue of Liberty, the American flag, the National Anthem, the Washington Monument, bald eagles, etc. Like a budding patriot, Rosie has absorbed this USA info with vigor and reports to me any and all facts about our country she thinks are important, which is all of them.

She is fascinated with the National Anthem, and I don’t know exactly what she was taught about it, but I do know that if you attempt to sing it in any less than a reverent tone, she will gasp and admonish: “Mama. Don’t sing like that! That is our national anthem.” Noted, Betsy Ross.

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When I used to imagine Rosie in a structured school setting with homework and behavioral expectations and morning assemblies, I couldn’t quite picture how it would go. She’s a little bit of an enigma—I know how she is, but don’t always have a good grip on how she will be. School was a big question mark in my mind when I tried to predict the Rosie forecast. But now as I watch her weave every morning through a sea of puffy-coated children to find her seat in the auditorium before school, hugging friends and waving to teachers whose names I don’t even know, I feel that question mark straighten itself into an exclamation point. She’s got this. Assignments on lined paper and book fairs and quest to end each day on a “green light” and pledges to flags and foreign languages and all.

So, to answer your earlier question, Rosie Mae, I am pleasantly sorprendido-ed. I’m also muy feliz. And next time I sing the National Anthem, it will be hand to heart, in my very best voice.

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