The last couple of week have been really special. I’ve been dropping Cade off for academic camp (I know… poor kid) at Justine Sherman and Associates in Sierra Madre at 8 am. Then it’s just a hop skip and jump over to my office to wait for the van to pick Ella up at 9 am for Camp Shi’ini – and starting this week, I’ll drop her at gymnastics camp at Club Champion.
So Ella and I have nearly an hour together, just the two of us, each morning. She has taken it upon herself to be my assistant, getting the office ready for the day, turning on all the lights and lamps, watering the plants, setting up the coffee station and even making a first cup of coffee for me. Of course my favorite part of it all is spending the time with her. We have the chance to talk and connect with each other, uninterrupted, at the beginning of each day.
Ella Luree has a zest for life I truly admire. When she wants to do something she goes for it, full throttle. There’s nothing she will let stop her. She is also predisposed to see the lighter side of life. Almost no matter what happens, she’s easy to laugh and quick to play. Just being around her lifts my spirits, helps me lighten up, and warms my heart. I can’t imagine a better way to start each day than to spend it with her.
Ella just finished kindergarten and had a bit of an up and down year. It was a hard transition for her from pre-school in terms of finding and fitting in with new friends. Academically, though, she caught on quick, reading and writing like the blazes. Because Field Elementary is literally right down the street from my office, I get to drop my kids off at school each day. Last year Cade was off like a flash to find his friends. So I would walk Ella to the kinder playground and wait with her for the bell.
One of Ella’s friends – the ringleader of her group of friends in fact – would sometimes say to Ella, “you’re not seriously going to wear THAT to school today, are you?”, or, “princesses are stupid, why would you wear a Princess Else shirt?” I had no idea this kind of thing started in kinder! I would counsel Ella about sticking by her choices and not worrying about what someone else thinks, but invariably she would feel awful and want to change. Occasionally these interactions would lead to Ella lashing out physically at this little girl or another of her friends in the group who was “following the leader.”
My approach has never been to get in the middle of Ella’s relationships, but rather to support her in finding her own strength from the sidelines. I believe she has to choose and manage her own friendships. On the one hand I want Ella to learn that violence does not solve interpersonal relationship issues. That’s a terribly important lesson. But on the other hand I am proud of her for standing up to the bullying directed at her by these other girls. It’s not an easy line to walk. I just hope I can help coach my smart, tough, driven little girl to find the right balance between never letting anybody push her around yet being peaceful, sympathetic and kind to others.