Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Super Boo (our Ella)

I was so anxious for our youngest daughter Ella to start kindergarten. I thought, Yay! No more driving to two different schools at four different times. No more half-day scramble. No longer siblings at home to try to keep quiet and entertained during Daniel's nap time.

That was at the beginning of summer. Yes, there was some constriction in the chest during the last Mother's Day tea at preschool and on her very last day there, but otherwise it was pretty smooth, and I felt so ready.

And she was so ready - is ready.

When she was three-and-a-half, she used to scream in carline every morning as we dropped her big brother and sister off at school, "I want to go there, too. I want to go THERE!" And then as we took the turn toward home every day I knew to expect a cry of, "No, not this way. Not home!" Home was boring. She wanted to go to the grocery store, to the library, to the mall. She wanted to see people, do things. We put her in preschool before she turned four, and she loved it. She cried if she had to miss, because she got sick. She asked me often, "Is today my preschool day?" Signed up for three days a week, she wished she could go all five.

And now she is going there at last: real, big-kid school.

She has her Batman backpack, her Justice League lunch bag, her Batman high tops, her Batman go-get-em attitude, and her Avengers pjs to curl up in at the end of the day.

And I'm feeling sad, counting the hours. I'm wondering how tired she's going to be each afternoon. I'm wondering what she'll think when she sees me crying as she marches to her classroom tomorrow, hoping my big smile and energetic wave reassure her Mama will do just fine without her Booey. I'm worried about Daniel missing his buddy badly, feeling like an abandoned sidekick, and hoping she doesn't try to boss around the whole classroom as his replacement. This mama, two already in school, is anxious about how I'm going to feel not having her home all that first long day.

I'm going to feel lonely during Daniel's naptime; I just know it.

My heart has been swelling for the past week, filling up with memories and the knowledge of letting go. Every time I hear her go up to somebody and say matter-of-factly, "Five plus five equals 10." Every time she tells her siblings, "Did you know 20 plus 20 equals 40?", and Berto responds, "Alright! Yes, we know," with exasperation at the constant reciting of math facts, I feel proud and nostalgic. She's been counting on her fingers, preparing herself for the big day when she can raise her hand proudly in class and let everyone know how smart she is.

I've smiled at my special little girl every time she comes and asks me softly, "Mama, what is Batman's real name again?" Then she turns to a family friend and pronounces, "I know Batman's real name!" And she whispers, "Bruce Wayne," in their ear with an admonition, "Don't tell the others! It's a secret."

They respond to her chronic cuteness with a big grin and reply, "Oh, I won't. I won't tell anyone!"

She learned how to traverse the monkey bars and ride her bike this May. The first time she traveled the monkey bars with no support was during one of her brother's football games, and she wanted to run and get her Papa, assistant coach, off the field, to show him. She waited impatiently until the end of the game, because Mama said she must, before dragging him to the playground. When the training wheels came off her bike, it took her no time at all to control it. A few trips across the back yard under her papa's or my supervision, she was good, and she still tells people with great pride, "I can ride my bike and do the monkey bars all by myself!"

Ella Boo's a superhero. Bruce Wayne has nothing on her. She's got bouncy curls and constant energy and a sassy attitude. She can boss around her big sis all the live long day if I let her, and she'll try to boss around her 10-year-old brother, never giving up no matter how many times he puts her back in her place. The girl's got personality, and smarts, and beautiful almond-shaped brown eyes with an adorable beauty mark at the corner of her right one. She could do a 100 piece puzzle at four years of age like it was nothing, beat us all at Memory at age three. On a hike she can out hoof or out run or out climb anyone, even the adults. When we walk the dog, she's scooting, cycling, or running several yards ahead of us all, and we routinely shout, "Ella, stop! Wait up!", because she's flying.

She has more loose teeth, and I know she'll be bringing them home from school, dislodged by an apple, in little plastic baggies. She'll be growing up away from me half the day now.

But she still wants bedtime stories and monkey hugs and still gives her daddy and me loud, slobbery smooches. She still begs Daddy to help her sound out Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss, jumping up by his side in the recliner. And it would break her heart if Mama didn't carry her to bed, close the closet, tuck her in and kiss her goodnight before she snuggles her teddy bear, Oonie, and falls asleep.

My super kindergartener is only taking a step on the path, not a flying leap across tall buildings, toward independence. She'll be just as happy to see me as I her when I pick her up each afternoon. I can already see her skipping toward the car, curls a flutter, in her Batman shoes.

Super Boo.


  1. Oh Hillary - that made me cry. Beautifully written and so emotive. My babies are big grown-ups now, but as I read this, I started to relive all the times I'd had to let them go just a bit - and I remembered how much it had hurt and made me proud at the same time.
    Ella Boo is lucky to have such a loving mum and fine family. Good luck to her on her next steps x

    1. Oh, Sharon, so glad to hear from you again! Yes, we mamas understand each other, the pain and the pride of letting go.

      Thank you for your lovely, encouraging comment.

  2. Congratulations to Ella! I know she has been waiting for this big day since she was born--it seems. ; ) Hang in there, Mama! You still have Daniel to pal around with, so try to think of it as extra special time with him. Something I'm sure he hasn't had too much of since he has 3 older siblings. I'll be thinking of her and YOU tomorrow morning. Have a great drop off! love, Camille

    1. Yes, she was born ready, as they say. And her godmother, who was there during labor with her, knows her pretty well, huh?

      Yes, Danny and I will have to go exploring. The poor guy is goi9ng to miss his Booey, so I'll have to step up. Thank you for all those positive thoughts, Camille!

    2. Uh, I didn't mean to make it sound as if you were in labor with her - haha! I only meant to point out that you were there from the time I was doubled over with pain in the hospital parking lot and that you had to wander the hospital with your son and my children for a few hours while I gave birth. What a friend! Did I ever tell you thank you? Thank you!

  3. Nostalgia - thy name is Hoodoo.
    Great post. Give Ella my love.

    1. Thanks, Dad. I think nostalgia is a chronic condition. I'll give her your love.

      Love, Hoodoo

  4. You have a dog?


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