This is maybe one of my all time favorite clips from the classic Sesame Street I grew up watching. There are many reasons why this clip is so awesome. Because I've been a big Lena Horne fan for years. (She was one of the first celebrities to appear on Sesame Street, - before everyone from Katy Perry to Dr. Phil found an appearance there a requisite part of continuing fame - but then I finally saw Stormy Weather when I was fifteen and was just blown away by it.) Because she was an uber-talented Diva right up until she died in May of this year at age ninety-two. Because she looks like she thinks at any moment there's a small, but very real possibility that those Muppets will turn on her and start tearing chunks of flesh off her body. And maybe most of all because she appears as though they had to get her super-high in order to do this.

Because our county is devious, the kindergarten entry deadline is stupid kind of early here. Over the decade or so since we moved into the county, the deadline has been moved earlier by an average of a week each year. Which means if we'd had these kids right after we moved into this house, both their birthdays would have fallen well within the deadlines, but now, since they've moved the deadlines back more than a month, they do not. In surrounding counties and states, the Kindergarten entry deadline is up to six weeks later. I remain convinced that this is all a part of their evil plan to keep the younger ones out of the grades and thereby increase their overall testing scores, making it look like they're actually teaching the children something more than how and when to flush the toilet.

The Dormouse's birthday missed the deadline by two weeks only so we
petitioned for her to start Kindergarten early, hoping that not making her wait for another year to start school would channel her quest for knowledge into appropriate things and save us from certain destruction as I was convinced I'd one day wake up to find the house completely dismantled and her sitting in the pile of rubble explaining, "What? I wanted to see how they put it together."

Ultimately, aside from the obvious behavior issues that stem mostly from her being less mature than most of the other kids in her class (but could also be that talkstoomuch gene passed down on her father's chromosomes), it's been a decision that I haven't regretted. My biggest concern was always not that she start early or later or whatever, but that she be engaged in school. I'm friends with a few teachers in the county and their stories worried me that if we did follow the rules and start her in Kindergarten when she was just two weeks shy of six, she'd be so bored in school that they'd come back a couple of years later suggesting she skip a grade. Or worse, she'd just become a big 'ole handful of behaviors for whatever teacher had the misfortune of dealing with her.

Though The Caterpillar's birthday is a couple of weeks earlier in the year, we'll still face the same dilemma when she's ready to enter Kindergarten because her birthday misses the deadline by just four days. I've by no means made a decision as to whether she'll be ready to start when she's four days shy of five years old. If she's not ready, I don't want her in school. Period. But if she is ready and has to wait for three-hundred and sixty-one days to start, I'm gonna have to do something. And that means we'll need to go about the process of petitioning the district for early entry again. So, in case we do end up thinking it's the right thing for her educationally, I've been developing a long-term plan to make sure The Caterpillar will pass their standards for admission.

I figure we basically have two options:

Option A) give her some basic educational instruction at home to prepare her for Kindergarten assessment when the time comes.

Option B) decide it's time for my practice marriage to be over and hold a "trial separation" wherein The Caterpillar and I move to a county with an admission cutoff date of October 30th, enroll her in school there, then "reconcile" with my husband after she's been enrolled for a few months and we can safely come back to where my house is without losing her newly-acquired Kindergartner status.

It's a good thing I've got a couple of years to work this out because while Option A seems... you know...
hard, Option B requires moving. And if you know me, you know that I think packing is a fate worse than death... worse even, if that could be possible, than having to call you on the phone... with my voice. When it looked as though we might be moving to Oregon a couple of years ago, my solution to the whole "will we hire a mover or do it ourselves" dilemma was to light a match, walk away and buy all new stuff when we got there.

This is all to say that we've been making a bit more of an effort to help The Caterpillar with her letters.

She knows the alphabet. She recognizes the letters. She even knows what sounds most of them make when you ask her. But that knowledge doesn't seem to stick in her brain consistently. She'll get the whole thing down and then by the next day when she tries to repeat the alphabet, L through P have simply dropped out of her head.

We know that it's just a matter of giving her the repetition she needs and so we've been trying to supplement preschool and take a few minutes a couple of times a day to practice going over the sounds.
This is all how I got to hear this conversation between her and The KingofHearts at the breakfast table this morning:

"What letter is that?"

"Um... E!"

"Right! And what sound does Eeeee make?"

"Um.... it makes a sound... eh... eh... eh."

"Good! But that letter E makes another sound too. What is it?"

"Um... it makes a sound... gherkin."

It's just too bad I can't bring Lena over to the house.

*The word gherkin has only the smallest relevance to this post, but referencing the clip that has this line of dialog is just too good to pass up.