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Sunday, February 3, 2013


About twice a year, Ella and I get to go on a "date" and I just love those days.

As a parent of two (and I can only imagine it is that much harder with three) it is rare to have the privilege to spend your time with just one of your kids. I am lucky because I get this kind of time with Maya since Ella is in school.  Maya and I have so much fun together and the wild naughtiness that she exhibits so much of the time in our family system is almonst entirely non-existent when it is just the two of us.  Maya and I play, we read, we snuggle, we run errands, we volunteer at Ella's school, we cook and we do laundry all with smiles.  But when she has to compete for attention, she is often loud and overstimulating, attempting to capture attention in whatever form she can get it.

Ella, the consumate introvert, often just tolerates Maya's exuberance.  Ella tends to get in trouble for yelling at Maya to "JUST BE QUIET!!" but honestly, it is hard to fault her.  When an introvert spends all day with 24 other second graders (an outrageous number of students even for her awesome and capable teacher), I can imagine she needs some peace. 

If you've been reading this blog then you know peace is a precious commodity that is hard to come by in our house.  But we are working on it.

So Maya gets lots of quality parental alone time and Ella gets hardly any. Enter in the very occasional teacher workshop day when Maya has school and Ella does not. 

Oddly, there was nothing playing at the movies.  Ella has been begging to try ice skating. I asked her she wanted to do that on our date and it was a resounding YES!  First I had to get my dilated eye exam while she played a friends house then it was off to buy ice skates. 

This child could not have been more excited to try ice skating.  She dressed Makenna in her ice skating outfit (complete with doll ice skates) and propped her in the window so she could watch.  (I wished I'd taken a picture.)  Ella was confident that all her roller blading would pay off and it did.  As one blade and then another sliced the ice, she called out to me, "I was born to ice skate!"
My legs and ankles wobbled a bit in Sandi's 2 sizes too big for me ice skates, but after a decade of skating hibernation, I found a groove.  With my dilated eyes squinting in the painfully bright winter sun, I was so grateful and proud to watch our big girl fulfill her desire. 

Ella is a much more patient, easy-going person without Maya.  Having my full attention, support and encouragement she just opened up like a spring peony, bursting with vibrance. 
I told her I would take her anywhere to eat anything for lunch. She choose Mexican because she loves tortilla chips and salsa.  Then we went to Toys-R-Us where she bought herself a new bike with her Christmas money and we went on a hunt for a mermaid Barbie that is all the rage in Maya's world.  She was so thoughtful and caring of her sister and I was struck by how space is all people need sometimes.

On the way to pick up Maya, I told her how much fun I had with her and how much I love to hang out with her. I also told her that she can have that time alone with me or Sandi whenever she needs it and she only has to ask for it.  She was surprised and said, "I can?" and it broke my heart a little that I had never told her this. 

I began to realize the specific strain the girls have endured with Sandi being gone so much.  These two very different people, with often conflicting needs, constantly have to share a space just one parent who is trying to spin the world faster for one and slower for the other. It is a wonder the three of us haven't lost our minds.

We picked Maya up and asked her if she wanted to go ice skating.  Another resounding, "YES!"
Maya really liked being on the ice.

Gold star to me for knowing that my kids needed to learn to ice skate separately.  This made the whole experience 100% more enjoyable.

It was so much fun and the girls were so proud that they got Sandi into it the next day.


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