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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Second grader

I remember being twenty eight and expecting Ella. It felt like the perfect age to be pregnant- young enough but not too young- and those first two years of having a young child honestly seemed as though they would never end. I don't mean that in a bad way.  It just seemed, despite the warnings from strangers in the grocery store, that time wasn't really passing.  I could see how much Ella was changing, but my world had so entirely inverted itself that I could not imagine it shifting again.  I was truly unprepared for the heartache of the inevitability of my baby growing into a child.

Yet here I am a thirty-six-year old mother of two who sometimes still has to do a double take at myself.  It seems impossible to conceptualize at times that time has marched so confidently on and that I am the PTO position-holding, mini-van driving person that answers to "MOM!" across a playground.  I am the alien woman I used to look at in my twenties, the one that was even somewhat inconceivable to me as a Baby Bjorn sporting twenty nine-year-old.

Somehow I woke up to find a second grader in my kitchen yesterday.

Sandi had to leave before Ella woke up so she left her a note on the back of a picture of Maya being silly for Ella to take in her backpack as well as her Irish ring that symbolizes strength for Ella to wear around her neck.  She didn't feel it quite went with her outfit so she tucked it the zippered pouch of her lunchbox.

Ella was feeling fairy good about starting school.  The open house the night before- seeing her friends, meeting her teacher, seeing her coveted second grade desk- helped immensely, plus she was stoked about wearing her new clothes and shoes.
On the way to school she told me her teacher was her favorite teacher yet (likely because she's under 30 and pretty) and that she was only nervous about remembering everything from the second grade handbook we had read the night before. I told her that her only job was to listen and that her teacher would spend the first several days teaching them about the class and the routines and she wasn't expected to know anything about being a second grader yet.  She said, "Oh phew.  So I don't need to worry about it?"
Tia called to wish her a good first day just as we were getting out of the car.

Ella made a very good case for why a second grader needs a wheeling backpack.  She looked a bit like a trendy young adult heading off to catch a plane.  Maya insisted on having the same backpack. It is larger than her torso and I have already made her a chiropractic appointment after the first week of preschool.

Maya and I left Ella at school, shed a few tears (me) and then enjoyed the quiet, conflict-free day. We did some projects, went to the gym and then went to school to help with kindergarten lunch.  The first day of school is an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation with these newbies and they need help with getting through the lunch line, opening their milk and learning the routines of clean-up.  Apparently there is often a lot of crying on day one, though thankfully I didn't see any. I might have had to return a crying child to his or her mother immediately. 

This will be year three for Maya helping in the lunch room and she has jobs.  She likes to take the silverware off the kids' trays and dump their milk in the bucket.  (Yes, I want to douse her in hand sanitizer the whole time.)  She took one girl's milk off her tray and the girl looked at me and said pointedly toward Maya, "That girl just stole my drink!"

Also overheard at kindergarten lunch: "That was the best dinner I ever had!" and "I only have a few drops of pee in my undies and I think I need to go to the bathroom."

It was evident that Maya missed her sister and asked me a few times when it would be time to get Ella.   The reunion warmed my heart and the girls were (mostly) thrilled to be together all afternoon.

Ella lost a tooth AND got a much sought-after McGraw Paw (an acknowledgment of going above and beyond at school).

Overall impressions of the first day:

"It was easier than I thought.  I thought we were going to start off needing to know minuses and having tests and stuff and mostly she just talked A LOT about how the room works."

"I LOVE my teacher."

"We got to pick anywhere in the room to work.  Except under the table."

"I like having a desk but it is weird to think that I'm home and my portfolio is at school."

As if this wasn't all enough for the first day of second grade, our beloved babysitter turned college student Becca was in town AND Ella got to try on her dress for Tricia's Sept 28th wedding.  She was recently upgraded from flower girl to junior bridesmaid and this has put her securely in a state of bliss.  She has only been asking about the arrival of her dress every other day for the past 4 weeks.

 In all the dress shopping of early summer, Maya (a flower girl) has apparently acting much like an untrained monkey.  During one trip Sandi had to leave early with the girls because of Maya's antics and when Ella came through the door she said to me, "Maya ruined everything.  Doesn't she know how special dress shopping is?"

I think this answers that question.

I could not be prouder of my beautiful, growing up girl.  I would just like it if my aging process could slow now as hers seems to be catching speed.
 I have come to terms with the fact that part of what is so hard about having the girls return to school this year is that each year they go out in the world in this way feels (and forgive the seeming exageration here) that they are one step closer to leaving to go out in the world for good.  Each year they gain independence and ties outside of our family.  I can see the shift in Ella toward her friends. Luckily, she is a child that craves connection with her parents so I am funneling all the love and support into her that I can.  It is clear she needs less direction now and is wanting to find her own way much of the time.  I am working hard to allow her this space and not micro-manage her quite so much.  She is ready to find her place in the world. I'm pretty sure my job at this point is to stand alongside and cheer loudly rather than pointing out all potential pitfalls.

I read this line somewhere recently:  "Mothers are good at builing roots, not so much at giving wings."  I want to be a wing-giving mother, but damn, I think that will be about as easy as a pigeon turning itself into an elephant. 

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