It’s back to reality for Chloe and Sophie. The lazy days of summer are over, there are no vacations planned any time soon and worst of all (for them, not me), they’re back in school.
For Chloe, 7th grade doesn’t represent much of a change. She’s lucky enough to have the same core subject teachers as she did last year. So far, she only has two big gripes (not bad for her). One, she’s in an elective class that she regrets choosing. Mind you, she’s only had the class one time so far, but Chloe is not one to take her time forming opinions. Two, she was placed into a gym class that she can’t stand. And why can’t she stand it, you ask? Because it’s “Team Sports” and Chloe and team sports are like oil and water. They just don’t mix. I am girding myself for a torrent of verbal diarrhea about her plight this afternoon.
Third grade represents a big change for Sophie because she started a new school. Not only will she have to get used to a confusing schedule, but she will need to move unaccompanied between classes and learn how to use a combination lock for her locker. At 28 students, her class has more children than her K-2 classes and the teacher does not have an assistant to lessen the pain.
Sophie has one big gripe. According to her, some of the teachers are “mean.” Now, “mean” to an 8-year old does not have the same connotation for a 44-year old mom. Loosely translated, “mean” in this context refers to a teacher who is trying to assert her authority among a rowdy zoo of 8-year olds. I think “strict” might be the appropriate synonym in this case, and I’m all for it.
But here’s the rub. Sophie’s previous school was for the little kids in K-2, where the teachers were nurturing and coddled their charges. And Sophie is our deeply cuddly and sensitive child. And now she’s in the big kids’ school. Where the children assert themselves with more confidence and where the teachers need to be a little less nurturing and a little more demanding.
When I told Chloe about Sophie’s experience during the first couple of days of school, I realized that my two daughters can be compared to certain Shakespeare heroines. Before you read on, however, please understand that my choice of characters in no way implies that my girls are murderers, suicidal, evil or insane.
Chloe’s reaction to Sophie’s lament about the teachers was pure Chloe (I paraphrase here): “Well, the teachers need to get their classrooms under control. The kids need to toughen up. Jeez.” Most of the time, Chloe is like having Portia from The Merchant of Venice living under our roof. Smart and practical. But sometimes, when she’s conniving and nasty to her sister or rude to her parents, she takes on characteristics of Lady Macbeth or the evil sisters Goneril and Regan from King Lear (without all the death and destruction, of course).
As I’ve said time and again, Sophie is our sweet and innocent child. She’s creative and visual. She’s an artiste (the ‘e’ at the end is intentional). She worries about the well-being of animals, both real and stuffed. When someone’s behavior offends her, she’s visibly upset. Sophie is like sensitive Ophelia (without the tragedy, but with much of the drama). And in her openness and honesty, she sometimes reminds me of Lear’s youngest child, Cordelia.
I reserve the right to change my mind about their Shakespearean alter egos. Because the good news is that should my girls’ personalities continue to evolve, there are plenty of other characters from which to choose.