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February 06, 2007

100th day of school

Today is the 100th day of school.  It's a real event at my daughter's school; it is clearly marked in the school calender and the whole school is celebrating.  Natalie's kindergarten class is having a 100th-day festival.  They are bringing the "100" theme into all their lessons today.  They are making 100-day hats (whatever that means; I worked until midnight last night on prep work for these hats, cutting, marking and stapling big sheets of paper that look nothing like a hat).  They'll be counting 100's of anything and everything.  Each child is bringing a collection of 100 of anything -- beads, buttons, coins -- to school.  Natalie has collected 100 stickers and made a beautiful collage with them.   Her friend has fused 100 Hama beads together.  Another has made a valentine with 100 little paper hearts on it.

It hardly seems possible that my child entered kindergarten 100 days ago, and has only 80 more days of kindergarten left!    I can think of so many other things she has collected in these first 100 days:

Jumps.  During the early days of school, Natalie watched longingly as some of the kids played jump rope outside the classroom.  At first she could only jump one or two times before getting entangled in the rope.    But with our encouragement, she practiced at home.   One or two turned into five, then ten and twenty.  Hundreds of jumps later, she proudly and confidently rejoined the kids at school.

Blisters and bars.  Early on, Natalie made it her goal to be able to make her way across the monkey bars.  A hundred days later, hundreds of blisters later, after hundreds of hours of practice and hundreds of bars crossed, she can make it to the other side.  Now she and her friends effortlessly swing across, looking just like little monkeys.

Artwork.  She comes home from school every single day with some kind of drawing or craft, so her art folder has at least 100 new entries.  She spends hours over the weekend making drawings for herself, her family, her friends and her teachers.  Our "finished artwork" drawer is constantly overflowing; occasionally I have to sneak in and throw away some of them; most of them I have to photograph and store in a folder on our computer.

Books.  Every Wednesday at 10:00 is library hour, and every Wednesday Natalie comes home with one or two books she has chosen from the school library.   Every Wednesday night, the whole family looks forward to reading those books.  And lately her teacher has been lending out beginning reader books as well, so the children can practice reading by themselves.   We already have a good collection of books and regularly check out more from the library, but I'm grateful for the hundreds of new books from school that have made their way into our home.

Friends.  Natalie's kindergarten class has 80 children, so including teachers and kids from other grades, it's entirely possible that she knows a hundred new people.  When she runs into them around town, at the supermarket or the park, her face lights up, she waves, and her friend waves back.  She proudly tells me, "Mama, that's xxx from school!".  She is happy that she has seen someone she knows and I am happy that we are becoming more and more a part of the community.

Smiles.  Hundreds of them.  Sure, there were some tears as well; tears when she thought her teacher didn't like her, tears when she had an argument with her best friend.  But the overwhelming majority of the time, she comes home full of smiles and giggles and tales of the great time she had. I hope her love of school and love of learning stay with her throughout the next 80 days and beyond!

100 days of school. I look back at these days and I understand why the school makes such a big deal out of it.   It has been a hundred days for me as well, a hundred days of dropping her off and picking her up, of listening to her stories and making her lunch, a hundred days of watching her grow and letting her go.  It's been great.  Makes me want to plant a hundred kisses on her fair little head.


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