Sometime last summer, on a warm and breezy day, the kind of day where you leave all the windows open and drink sun tea, I sat down to enjoy said tea and the most recent issue of my (now defunct) favorite magazine, Domino. I had miraculously gotten both children to take a nap at the same time and was oh so looking forward to a few quiet moments alone. With my tea, and my thoughts, and the remote control for once.
I began to flip through the first few pages of my magazine when I heard the voice of a child yell through my open window. "HEY," they shouted," YOU KIDS BE QUIET! BE QUIET KIDS! YOU HEAR ME? I SAID BE QUIET OUT THERE!"
Geez, I thought to myself, what a piece of work that kid was! Whoever his parents were, they obviously weren't doing a satisfactory job of keeping that mouthy little thing in line. And then I smiled to myself, congratulating myself on the fact that MY children would never be so rude, so outspoken. They were on a schedule, sleeping like little angels in their beds just as I had told them to do. Because I was after all, the one in charge. I was running the show, those kids couldn't tell ME what to do.
And then my own private Parental Awards Ceremony for myself was abruptly interrupted by the sound of one of the bedroom doors opening. I craned my neck to see who was coming down the hall way. It was Elsbeth. She stood before me with her legs apart and her hands on her hips, very much like Superman, scrunched up her nose, contorted her face into the most sinister shape a two year olds could be, and said, "Those kids were making too much noise out there so I told them to BE QUIET! BE QUIET, I said, I'M TRYING TO SWEEP IN HERE!"
And then it dawned on me. It hadn't been someone else's child I had heard yelling so forcefully outside, it had been my own. The tiny voice that she had used to affect such an authoritative tone had been carried out her window and over to mine just a few feet down. As I sat there letting this realization sink in, I began to laugh. She continues to amaze me.
Since the time she was still an infant, this child has been in possession of an old soul and a temperament so fierce and strong it impresses even the most hardened of dictatorial types. Case in point: All my dad had to do when I was a kid to make me cry was to look at me a certain way and perhaps add a Dirty Harry-esque sneer. I would turn into a blubbering heap of pigtails on the floor. Ellie? Not so much. Once, on my parents patio, Ellie had been playing with her toy horses when my father kept trying to strike up a conversation with her. She was repeatedly quite rude and disrespectful to him, making faces and frowning at him. This had been going on all day with the two of them and I could tell my dad had about reached his limit. He and I both warned her not to speak to adults in such a way and that if she continued there would be consequences. I was thinking more along the lines of a time out, but apparently my dad had other plans.
He asked her a question, very nicely I might add, and she looked up and said, "HEY PAPPY DON, I'M NOT TALKING TO YOU!"
I saw "the look" cross my dad's face. He picked up one of her horses and hurled it over the fence. "You see?" he asked, "You see what happens when you talk to me that way?"
A maniacal glimmer lit up in Ellie's eyes and she squealed with glee. "OOOOOOOOOOOO, throw this one next, Pappy Don, throw this one next!" She wasn't phased. Not. A. Bit.
I feel like I spend so much time correcting her attitude and dealing with her strong will that I sometimes forget how small she really is. She's always seemed so grown up. Like we are practically the same age, just trapped inside different sized bodies. And then I hold her. And I feel how delicate her body is; how delicate she really is, and I want to hold her there forever, never letting her go, never letting her grow up. Holding on to this moment for as long as I can if only with my mind and my camera.
It's her voice that gets to me the most now. It's almost like a chipmunk's and yet the things that come out of it are sometimes profound and blithely Innocent all at once. It's an ironic dichotomy. I'd like to share a personal video with you. I've never shared video here before, one because I can't stand the sound of my own voice, and two because that takes this blog into a whole new level of my personal life. We are about to go from a two dimensional relationship into a three dimensional. Dear readers, will you still love me tomorrow? Do you promise to call?
There are things about this video I wish were different. I wish I wasn't in the bath tub. I wish there weren't dirty clothes on the floor. I wish Ellie's hair was done and her shirt was clean and wasn't on backwards (that was HER doing BTW). But you know what? This is reality, there is no glossing over here. This is a snippet of my life with an amazing little girl. A little girl, who is just that, a little girl. No longer a baby and yet still so small. I have to remind myself of this sometimes, especially after she tells me that God told her that she could have lollipops for breakfast and drinking milk in bed does not in fact hurt your teeth no matter what the resident dentist says.