Something has changed with Lily. On her birthday we went to The Children's Museum and she was talking to everyone, telling them she was now seven, telling them about her day, telling them whatever thought happened to come into her head. She was approaching random strangers at the book loft and Starbucks later in the day to tell them about all she'd done for her birthday and to elicit a "Happy Birthday", smiling big and open at them when they complied. By bedtime she was telling me how she felt older. She told me she wasn't afraid to talk to people and was super comfortable the whole day and was just really happy with her confidence. And it hasn't really stopped. It's like turning seven flipped a magic switch in her head and she's no longer so shy or emotional. I don't know if it'll continue, but for now, I'm enjoying seeing the smile on her face and the confidence in her voice. More than that even, I'm in love with the pride she feels in her own progress and that she sees the world with a few less fears now.
I've been thinking about how fortunate I feel with Lily's placement in the multi-age, dual teacher class last year. While I believe she would have thrived in the smaller, more intimate setting of the first-graders-only class, I have a feeling that teachers nurturing style and the small class size would have allowed her to stay in her shell. I don't know, of course, but it's something I suspect. While 40 kids was overwhelming to me, Lily never got lost in her class; not with multiple teachers to keep a hand on her and their commitment to addressing each child's individual needs. That dynamic, coupled with the age variations, allowed her to feel safe, comforted, cared for and... free to step forward and explore who she is. She grew SO much this year and is, in many ways, a very different kid. One that is more confident and, I think, more happy.
She still has her moments of intense introspection and emotion, but I see this summer as an opportunity for her to step into her own. And honestly, I cannot wait for Fall and for her to return to school. Anything that makes my child feel so deeply part of the world... well, it's something I can't help but cherish.