Before this habit disappears, I want to document what my “Mornings with Ella” are like these days.
First of all, they begin too early. Somewhere between 5 and 5:30 am, a door opens and closes (not silently). It’s like an alarm clock of sorts.
If I’ve fallen asleep on the sofa, which is not unusual (and anyone who knows me knows I’ve had this problem since high school – my mom hates it), then I’ll hear footsteps thumping down the hallway headed in my direction. Actually, no matter where I am the footsteps head to the “big room”, since her morning ritual is a baba and a show while Zoe and Bart keep on sleeping.
Here’s what follows:
- Ella cuddles up with me and hugs my neck, then, in a soft sweet voice…
- Ella: You’re the BEST MOMMY EVER!
- Me: YOU’RE the best ELLA ever!
- Ella: I love you, Mom.
- Me: I love you, too, Ella.
- (Silence and smiles for a few beats, then…)
- Ella: I want a baba, Mom…
Not a bad way to start the day, amiright? (Well, if you ignore that the baba part is delivered with a whine, which I do.)
Now, to be fair, I wouldn’t mind if this ritual started a LITTLE BIT later. I’m up by 5 am regardless; however, I’m a morning person (read: wind-up doll) and my only real “me time” where my brain is not mush is 5 am to 6 am, and I haven’t had that in a couple of years (pretty much since Ella started walking).
In contrast, Zoe has to be literally LIFTED out of bed around 6:30 am (usually after Bart has turned on the light and sometimes turned on “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper or “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore rather loud on an iPad near her head). I think he’d keep trying passive stuff for a while, but I’m impatient, so I get her to hop on a piggy back and dump her on the sofa in the other room. That works.
Sound like any teenagers you know?
Anyway, back to Ella. She (still) is a VERY different child than Zoe.
Unlike Zoe, who at 3 months of age attended our work Christmas party with around 40 people and happily hopped from lap to lap of complete strangers, Ella is glued to my leg (or under my dress). When gently placed in the arms of even someone she has met before, she instantly reaches out for me or Bart to take her back… Stranger? Danger. This literally happened last night, and to be clear, Ella will be 3 years old in 3 weeks.
Unlike Zoe, for whom we honestly barely needed to babyproof the house (for the most part we could just tell her “Danger!” and she’d look very serious and stay away), Ella makes a beeline for danger in any place in the world. At almost 3, she still likes to put pennies and Shopkins “close to” her mouth. Mostly NOT in the mouth, but my heart…
If Ella is silent in the other room, you can be sure that something undesirable (if not dangerous) is happening. Stickers? Why not stick those to the hardwood floor? Hidden coins in Zoe’s room? Not for long. Worse = the bathroom. If alone, she will no doubt be pulling out a step stool so she can reach something you do not want her to reach.
Even in the SAME room but quiet, watch out. Wonder what would happen if I took every top off every marker and laid them in a line on the rug? I’m sure I can figure out how to take apart this [fill in the blank] “all-by-my-self”.
Maybe these tendencies will yield a fiercely independent, mechanically inclined problem-solver who finds the cure to cancer or figures out how to build affordable, sustainable housing for all.
Don’t get me wrong – she still loves princesses. We don’t have a tomboy who prefers cars to dolls (in fact, she loves dolls), just a mischievous, strong-willed girl with a mind of her own. As I type, she’s dressed up (for the second day in a row) as Elsa (who she refuses to stop calling Anna, though she’s seen Frozen AND Frozen Fever hundreds of times), including uncomfortable plastic shoes, long evening gloves and a tiara.
It’s just that THIS Elsa is carrying around popsicle sticks, organizing them into triangles and squares, and distributing them around the house, each in its own special place, so I can find/pick them up for days. THIS Elsa regularly says “But I don’t WANT to” about anything you WANT her to do. THIS Elsa gets excited about the PROSPECT of going potty like a big girl, then poops in her diaper and reminds us that she COULD HAVE gotten 2 M&Ms for that if she’d gone in the potty.
It’s exhausting and confusing. Thank goodness she’s incredibly cute.
Oh, and. In addition to Elsa/Anna, she’s obsessed with movies: Moana, Trolls and of all things Megamind. If you haven’t seen that third one (or Trolls), then you may not appreciate how “not-Elsa” they are… Even Moana is an unlikely (reluctant?) princess more like Mulan than Aurora. Let’s just say she has eclectic taste in movies and her heroes are strong and resourceful.
So I’m hopeful that this “princess” finds balance (and does not drive us crazy first).