Sunday, January 27, 2013

Transformers Ballerina

The other day one of the other moms at daycare who has a little boy and is now expecting a little girl asked me, "Does Ella always dress like a princess?" I looked over and saw that as usual she was wearing the Cinderella costume she puts on every day as soon as she gets to school and wears the entire day until I pry it off her unwilling body. I nodded and smiled, and the mom said, "I just don't know what I'm going to do. I'm just not a girly person." It was funny because I realized that she sees my daughter differently than I do. She sees the little girl in polka dots and pink who is always wearing a princess dress or a tutu and twirling around like a ballerina and thinks to herself, "There's Ella, the girliest girl there is." This is so funny to me because I don't see her that way at all, and I don't think Ella sees herself that way, either. Now, I'm not saying she's a tomboy. Does she love girly things? Of course. She loves makeup and nail polish and clothes and all the other "girly" things appropriate to her gender, but her likes and dislikes do not end there. She loves superheroes and transformers and Thomas the tank engine. She loves turning over rocks and looking for worms. The only thing she asked for on Christmas was Spiderman slippers. Today we went to a knight themed birthday party, and I bought her a Sleeping Beauty dress to wear there, but as soon as she saw the dragon costume sitting out in Emmett's living room, she pulled off her dress to put it on. She spent most of the party using pretend power tools to fix Emmett's playhouse. A lot of her interests come from the kids she hangs out with at school. Her class is made up of mostly boys, so when they want to play Captain America and "Save the Day!" she gets sucked into the excitement. Perhaps if her classroom was full of girls, she would never know about Power Rangers or Batman and wouldn't be interested in "boy" things, but her environment is what it is, and she doesn't seem to notice these discrepancies.

It's like that scene in Friends when Rachel makes a dessert and accidentally mixes two recipes together, one for a fruit trifle and one for Shepard's pie. Joey continues to eat it, and explains himself by saying, "What's not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, good." I think that's how Ella feels about her interests, as in, "Magic wands, good. Sparkles, good. Worms and dirt, good." She can't see any reason why all these items can't compliment each other in the trifle dish of her life. 

The truth is that beyond all the "stuff" I see much more "boy" tendencies in her than "girl" ones. Her friend Kate is like I was as a kid, content to sit and color or play Play-doh for hours, carefully choosing the right crayon and meticulously adding a speck of glitter here or there. Ella would much rather be finding the highest thing to jump off of, or asking us to chase her or watch her run "really, really fast" or jump "really, really high!" She loves speed and danger and excitement. She loves being physical and rolling around with Mike, and I think that because she is a girl, he subconsciously doesn't play as rough with her as he would a boy, even though she would love it.

I think we spend so much time worrying about gender stereotypes that we end up putting our kids into these categories without realizing it. If she likes princesses, then she must be girly. If she likes baseball, then she's a tomboy, but none of this matters to Ella. She has no idea what boys are supposed to like, or what girls are supposed to like. She just likes what she likes, and that's the way it should be.

I think this really hit home for me the other day when she and I were at the grocery store and I let her pick out a balloon. At the time, she was wearing a sundress (yes, in January), sparkly tights, and pink boots. She looked at all the balloons- pink, purple, sparkly, heart-shaped- and out of all of them, she chose the Transformers balloon. On the way home, she held her balloon in the backseat and said, "Mom, when I get big, I'm gonna be a Transformers Ballerina."

And I said, "Ya know what, buddy? That sounds just perfect for you."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Those three little hours

Sometimes Friday afternoons make me a little blue. Of course, I'm glad the week is over, and I'm looking forward to heading home, but I always get a little jealous of my kid-less friends who have plans to go out to dinner or to a movie, or to do something else fun. We don't get to go out a lot, and honestly, we don't even have the money for take out, and the thought of going home on Friday night and making chicken and broccoli just sounds a little bit depressing. On top of that, I'm tired after a long week, and though I'm excited to see the beezer, our afternoon times are not really the best. I feel like from the moment I pick her up to the moment she goes to bed, I pretty much spend the whole time arguing with her. She doesn't want to leave school (who can blame her- they have llamas and bearded dragons!), she doesn't want to get in the car, she doesn't want to go inside, she doesn't want to eat dinner, go potty, get in the bath, get her jammies on, go to sleep, etc! I feel terrible that I spend those two or three hours fighting with her, and sometimes I sort of dread going to get her, knowing that my exhausting week still isn't over yet.

Today I was definitely feeling those Friday blues, but this time I tried really hard to fight it. I tried to muster up the energy to be the best mom I could be for those three hours between pick up and bed time. So, when we got home, and Ella asked me to play with her, I didn't say, "No, Mommy has to make dinner." I said, "Sure. Let's go play." So we played until Mike got home, then hid in the tent and waited for him to find us. Then, all three of us played hide and seek until it was time for dinner. Little miss picky actually ate her whole dinner and asked for more, which has never happened in the history of forever. Then, we read a few books and headed upstairs.

After her bath, we read a few more books, and that's when the true cuteness began. She started "reading" the book, and by reading of course I mean that she has memorized some of the words, but when she is actually saying the exact words on the page, it's just about the cutest thing you've ever seen. Then, she started singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and shaking her hips on the bed. She ended all of this cuteness by giving me a hug and saying, "I'm glad you're here, Mom."

She's asleep now, and I can finally relax, and the whole afternoon made me realize that those three hours are pretty precious in my day, and even though I need to clean up and make dinner, and do a million other things, well, sometimes those things can wait, because Ella B is glad I'm here, and I'm glad, too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christmas Part 2

Okay, so it's mid-January and I'm still finishing my Christmas post. I know, I know, wrap it up Bonaldo. So, as I said, Christmas was pretty special this year, and not just because it was the first Christmas where Ella really understood all the magic and whatnot, but also because we had Mike's brother Tony, his wife Lisa, and their almost thirteen-year-old daughter Madelyn with us for the whole week. You may remember them from the blog post "Sweet Home from Alabama" way back in August of 2011 when we went to visit them in Alabama. Well, this time they came to us, saw our house for the first time, met most of my extended family and friends, and got to spend the craziness that was Christmas Day with us. We'd never had house guests before, so I was a little nervous about how things would go, how Ella would react, how I would get my house cleaned in time, etc., but everything ended up being pretty effortless (well, not the cleaning part, but everything else). We had a great time hanging out, eating lots of food, drinking a lot of wine, and marveling at the ridiculousness that is Ella B. They got such a kick out of her, and it was great for them to be here long enough for her to get comfortable with them. The only down side was that poor Madelyn had the flu and spent almost the whole week sleeping. We couldn't even wake her up to see the snow, and Ella kept asking, "Where's the girl from the couch?" Luckily, she was able to pull it together to head to New York and see Times Square and Rockefeller Center for the first time. That and the Taylor Swift tickets she got from her parents made her Christmas pretty awesome, anyway.

After everyone left, we cleaned up the house, threw out the leftover Christmas food, and got back to reality. It was nice to have a (somewhat) quiet house again, but I have to say that it made me realize how much I love a house full of people and laughter and food and noise. It was the first year that I was really bummed that the Christmas season was over, and I really am looking forward to many more years of that fullness.

PS- I totally want to add a bunch of pictures to this post, but for some reason, blogger is letting me. I'll try to figure it out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Oh, hello again and Christmas part 1

Wow. One blog post in December. And it was a real downer. Sorry about that guys. Between work and the holidays, I just couldn't make this whole blog thing happen lately, but I'm back, and I am glad I had at least one blog post in December, because as bad about blogging as I can be sometimes, in almost two years, I've never missed a month, and that sounds like a pretty good accomplishment to me.

So, where do I start? I guess I'll start with Christmas and fill you in on the rest later, or, on second thought, it's almost 10, so I might have to break Christmas down into multiple parts. Let's just get started and see what happens, shall we?

So, this was the first year that Ella was old enough to really get excited for Christmas. Once the old-school holiday specials started playing on the T.V. and it seemed like everywhere we went there was a Santa (like even at the diner), she started to get that Christmas itch, and, I have to say, I got a little bit of the itch, too. I loved watching Frosty the Snowman with her and talking about what she wanted for Christmas (Spiderman slippers- the only thing she asked for was Spiderman slippers). It was the first time we did the Elf on the Shelf, and the first time we put cookies under the tree for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. We even sprinkled some special reindeer magic dust on the lawn and spun around three times and made a wish. When I asked Ella what her wish was, she said, "Mommy, Daddy, Ella, Nene, PopPop." I figured that sounded like a pretty good wish.

On Christmas Eve she went to bed knowing that Santa would be arriving soon, and I can so remember that joy and anticipation. It was always so hard to sleep that night, but something in the air just felt so good. I remember how my parents always put those fake candles on all the window sills, and I would go to sleep by that light and feel so warm and happy. This was the first year I got to see that joy in her eyes, and I realized that it means I get to live that feeling all over again. Once you grow up, but before you have kids, the holidays can become this tedious time of shopping and cooking and cleaning, but then, when a little person in penguin pajamas asks you if Santa came last night and her eyes are all sparkly and sleepy, the holidays become something else entirely. This is the first year in a long time that I'm really bummed that Christmas is over, but I'm so looking forward to all those fun years ahead.

Well, I barely told you anything, but I have to go to bed. Stay tuned for more Christmas stories later. Oh, and here is a video of Ella singing her favorite song, Frosty the Snowman.