9/26/09

Observations on Binary Stars

I believe Juliette and Ilsa are having a more difficult time adjusting to their forced separation than they're letting on, at least verbally. For the last six years they've been two binary stars--circling each other, establishing patterns of gravity and influence, and greatly affecting one another's development. They attended two years of Montessori together, and this past summer, they spent fourteen interminable weeks joined at the hip.

Now they attend different schools. They have different friends and more diverse experiences. And they're not exactly handling it with finesse or aplomb.

Juliette, for example, has become more withdrawn among her peers. Her teacher mentioned that she is reluctant to join groups or engage in certain activities, especially where her dominance as a potential leader might be in question. She has no wingman! No miniature cheering squad! No backup! Ilsa, on the other hand, has lost her marbles...her backpack...her sense of direction...her initiative. It's as if some other brain has been directing her actions, and that brain has suddenly gone missing. Hmmm. Wonder who that could've been.

When they arrive home in the afternoon, I hardly need to participate in their play. They surge back together like socks with static cling, re-engaging in their strange twinspeak-ish play and familiar, unspoken patterns of behavior. That's great when we're at home, but during swimming class, where they've been placed into two different skill classes...not so much. They've become utterly incapable of paying attention. "Hi, Juliette!" Ilsa would shout as her sister swam by, thereby distracting Juliette and causing a round of waved greetings. "Hi, Ilsa," Juliette would bellow across the length of the pool, aggravating both teachers.

The weekends are actually fantastic. They occupy each other almost entirely, the complete opposite of how annoying their cabin fever became there toward the end of August. But yeah, I hope the next few months erase the stress of this traumatic separation and bring about more maturity, independence and resilience in both. This has to happen, or else next year when Juliette's in second grade and Ilsa's across the hallway in first grade, we'll have another round of "Hi, Juliette!!" and "Hi, Ilsa!!" And then the phone calls home will begin.

Oh, and on a slightly tangential note, I'm glad Juliette's school has a uniform policy. It's a private school, where some families pay full tuition and others have been awarded financial aid. This isn't ever apparent when the kids are out on the front lawn, lining up for the start of the day. Their uniforms level the playing field. Everyone is there in support of the school and their educational journeys. Yesterday, however, was picture day. Although Juliette wanted to wear her uniform for pictures--and Keven and I wanted that too--students were allowed to wear whatever they wanted.

What a variety! From t-shirts to church clothes to hoochie outfits, the kids completely ran the gamut of fashion. I could see the class distinctions and family circumstances much more clearly, which was a shame. I'll be glad to see them all go back to normal on Monday. How else can we preserve this bizarre, nurturing little utopia we're paying so much money to maintain??

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