I am trying to get caught up on my family picture albums/photo books and have found that I’ve been very remiss at writing about the kids since starting my new job. Its amazing how much I appreciate having written about them in retrospect - you think you won’t forget, but when I do take the time to write about who they are and what they are doing at a given time I rejoice in the refreshed memories later. I’m going to try to be better about that.
I’ll focus on Ellie this time. She is 3, almost 4. She is in ‘official’ preschool this year – last year’s classes were very preschool-like but still fell under the ECFE umbrella. Her class is working through all the letters of alphabet by studying one letter each week. The children can bring in an item from home for show and tell that begins with the letter for that week. So far Ellie has brought in an alligator toy and a pink ball. She (we) forgot this week’s C toy. I found a website that lets you customize words/numbers for tracing and practicing, and I’ve been going through those with her on our own time.
Like Will did at her age, she has discovered how much she likes playing on pbskids.org. It was amazing to watch how hard she worked to master the mouse and then how easy it was for her to jump from very simple games/activities to finding, on her own, the more advanced ones. While walking by her as she worked, I saw the word “ailing” on the screen and asked her, “What does ‘ailing’ mean?” and she said, without missing a beat, “It means you don’t feel good.” She has always been very, very good at vocabulary. I find that even in the more complex books we read, she can tell me what a phrase or word means because she understand context so well. She still says ‘he’ for both ‘he’ and ‘she’, and ‘him’ for both ‘him’ and ‘her’. I don’t think this means anything significant of a psychological nature, but I have to check my assumptions about the gender of the person she is talking about because I’ve been pretty misled on more than one occasion.
She started dance classes this fall. I admit I am torn about the classes. She loves them, which is the most important thing, but there are parents who send their little 3 and 4 year olds to class with their hair curled, and ears pierced, and although I haven’t seen makeup yet, its only a matter of time. I don’t think Ellie notices, but I do. I also find it hard to go because the other mothers all seem to know each other – and I don’t know any of them, and my attempts to create conversation are just not responded to. It feels very clique-y, and it makes me feel actively unconnected. I’m sure they know each other from outside dance, and that it isn’t deliberate, but Minnesotans in general are actually a hard group to crack as a new person. Not all, but enough that its noticeable. I know others who have experienced the same thing. But, as I said, the important thing is that Ellen loves the class. She has ballet shoes and tap shoes, and its fun to watch her concentrate on mimicking the teachers’ movements. She also is just so open to other people. I’m so grateful for her personality.
After reading a book about a little girl who wants to be a ballerina and who goes to a dance performance with her mother, I asked Ellie if she wanted to do that with me. Her eyes got huge, and she nodded solemnly. So, I have tickets for us to see the Nutcracker in December for her birthday. I can’t wait.
After a bath one night we were brushing her hair (which is still growing SO slowly – I’ve STILL never cut it!), and she looked in the mirror and tried to flatten down a few beautiful curls over her ears. “Oh, I don’t like it when this hair does this,” she said vehemently. Her choice of words – ‘this hair’- made me laugh because it could almost be singular given how fine it is. She has a face-transforming smile that just goes straight to my heart – when it happens, it is just SO genuine - and piercing, almost. Her giggle is the most infectious sound I’ve ever heard.
I have to push her a bit more than I had to with Will to be physically active. It doesn’t come as easily to her, but she’ll walk for half an hour and more with me down the street or through the woods. She is also developing more and more stamina on her little trike – taking it down the street, following Will on this big boy bike.
She and Steve are peas in a pod. Ellie is always telling me what “my Daddy” said or did. The phrasing amuses me, because its as if she thinks I don’t know which Daddy she is talking about. And Steve is pretty much the most amazing father any little girl could wish for. He dances with her, and they love grocery shopping together. I think we all feel blessed in this regard.
We’ve had a number of backyard bonfires this fall complete with ‘smores. Ellie likes her marshmallows burnt to a crisp, and Will like his ‘golden’ (his word!). They’ve both enjoyed rolling down our hill, and exploring in our woods as the leaves fall and fern/grass dies down, which are usually way too dense to walk through.
Her words to Will in the car the other day, "You just worry about yourself, Hammie."