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flowers for teacher WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2011

Amabel loves Milly-Molly-Mandy books. The stories, originally published in the Christian Science Monitor in the 1920s, are some of the sweetest I have read to our girls - exceptional in their eloquent simplicity. One of the stories that Amabel has asked me to read again and again is “Milly-Molly-Mandy Gets to Know Teacher.” In this chapter the village school teacher stays at Milly-Molly-Mandy’s house for a couple of nights while she gets settled into her cottage. Amabel, my little wordsmith, took note that “Miss Edwards” is simply called “Teacher” by the children in the village. And Amabel apparently liked this title very much. Last week, when Amabel was preparing to go to school, she talked nonstop about “Teacher.” We talked about her teacher’s real name, of course, but Amabel kept referring to her as just “Teacher.” “Teacher is coming to visit our house. And Teacher will see my room.” Before we went to our classroom visit, Amabel picked a handful of flowers, saying, “Teacher will love this beautiful bouquet.” Now Amabel has spent two mornings with “Teacher” (two teachers, actually) and the children in her classroom, but I know very little about what she has done at school. Amie expertly avoids my questions and tells me made-up stories instead (“We had Siamese twins in our class today. They were connected at their ears.”). This doesn’t surprise me, and so I try not to ask too much; I mostly wait for her to volunteer. But I’m learning the most by listening to the new words she has been weaving into her play. Over the past couple of days I’ve been eavesdropping as she talks to herself and to Ellen, and in this way I have gotten a little peek into her days at school. “I am lining up these peppers and then I will polish them until they shine. Ellen, let’s ask Mama for some butter to polish them.” “Have you ever used canvas? We made stitches on canvas.” “How do you trace the letter M?” My favorite moment today was when I overheard Amabel singing to herself (a naming song) on the couch, as she was trying to remember the all the children in her class (She paused her tune to ask in a whisper, “Now who was that boy with the glasses?”). This week there are nine children, and she was able to remember all but one name. I admire how Amabel soaks up new experiences in such detail, even among so many impressions and so many people. Since she was very small, she has been an incredible observer, taking in everything through her wide eyes and then reflecting it back to us with wise questions. From babyhood she was easily overwhelmed by too much activity or noise, and I think this comes from her taking in so much, so deeply. Over the past year, however, Jeffrey and I have really watched Amabel grow into her more confident, relaxed self. And the timing was perfect when we discovered the small Montessori school near our new home. The slow pace and gentle transition provided by “Teacher” seem to be a perfect fit for our Amabel. We are very happy to watch her spread her wings a bit and share herself with a warm little community close to home. 85

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