"Mommy, I better start calling you mom," Elena quietly said to me as she tied her shoe before school one morning.
"Why?" I asked, trying to not let the panic I felt rising show.
"Because I’m getting older."
She's not wrong on that--she's EIGHT. She's about two weeks away from being done with second grade. She's halfway through her elementary school years. She's only two birthdays away from being in the double digits. She is, in fact, getting older.
And for the most part, I love it. But I also don't want time to go so quickly.
I love the stage we're in. The kids are old enough to play and do chores and are independent BUT still young enough that I don't feel the pressure to get them a phone or worry about them driving. They still think the best thing ever is family movie night and they get excited when we visit new parks. This is the golden age of children: no longer babies and completely dependent on us but yet also not teenagers who think they are adults.
They are kids who love to laugh and play and spend time with their family and think frozen yogurt is the best treat ever.
As I watched Elena carefully double knot her shoes I told her she could call me mom or mommy--and she could switch it up, too. Maybe at school she could call me mom and at home mommy. It was up to her and I was fine with whatever she wanted.
Yeah, I was FINE.* (*not fine)
She smiled and I could see the relief as her shoulders loosened and she hopped up from the floor. My little Elenabug. She feels so much. She gets so nervous when she thinks her dad or I will be upset. I hate that. But I felt happy that at least for today, I made her feel better.
Last year she stopped turning around to wave at me as she walked into school. This year she's transitioning from mommy to mom. What could be next???
And no, she is not allowed to refer to me as Sara.
Here are some of my favorite statements my empathetic, sweet, funny, literal daughter shared this past year.
Showing Off Her Vocabulary
(thanks to the never-ending supply of books she reads)
Cartoon showing the smell of a good meal in the air.
E: "Ohhhhhh, the smell is wafting through the air."
When she was telling me about a fight she and B were having: "The quarrel started with..."
One night, about five minutes after tucking her in, E was up. "Sorry, but my head really hurts. I promise I'm not pleading for water. It's just my head."
Another evening, she informed me of the time. "It's 730. I saw that on the analog clock."
Surprised, I responded with "What now?"
Slightly annoyed she replied with, "Analog. You know. Not DIGITAL. With the numbers."
She's also very encouraging to others when they use good vocabulary:
After tucking E & her doll in, I said, “Good, she’s all nestled & you’re all snug.”
E replied with, “That’s a good vocab word, great job, mommy!"
However, she's also not afraid to "correct" people when she thinks they used a word incorrectly.
One day, after the kids were fighting nonstop I said, "I’m so disappointed & annoyed & sad by your behavior today.”
After a long pause, E said, "Actually disappointed & sad mean basically the same thing so you didn’t need to repeat it."
And, another time I said, "Oh my goodeness it’s just so chaotic this morning!" To which E replied, "No chaos is great confusion. We aren’t confused."
But that's not to say she's never said something incorrectly or been wrong... According to E, the Civil Rights Movement is actually just civilization. "MLK and Rosa Parks were a big part of civilization."
Actually, maybe she was more right that I was giving her credit for...
Big Plans for the Future
E informed us recently that in college she wants to be a tourist (this idea was repeated in her birthday survey below under the "what she wants to be when she grows up" question). And then for her job she wants to be an artist.
I guess this means she'll be living at home forever.
"I’ve decided that when I grow up I’m going to get my furniture from Walmart & Home Depot because they have great stuff! The commercials look great!"
"I read about this place called Cleveland at school & I really want to go there!"
Some Quick Hits
"Country music is like Wild West music. It’s what cowboys listen to."
"I disagree with the name of this song. Summers aren’t cruel." (Upon seeing Cruel Summer was playing the radio.)
"I have seen a butterfly up close & it is NOT as beautiful as far away. It’s face?!?! Ewwwww."
“That’s the best you can do & it’s great,” she said, rather unconvincingly, after asking me to do her doll’s hair.
She recently told me how much she likes semicolons. “I like the punctuation with the period and comma. It’s like the end of a sentence but NOT because there’s more!"
E was intensely starting at me one day and when I asked what was up she said, “I’m using my artist eye and I’m trying to remember everything. I’m focusing on eyes, noses, and mouths.”
That was all fine and well until she KEPT staring and then, a little later ran out with this gem.
The South Korea flag was shown during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and E asked why they were showing the Pepsi sign.
Copper, cleaning himself in E’s room. “No, Copper! This is not a bathing area.”
"I love that we eat so much fruit! Fruit is nature's candy, you know."
Trying to explain that even though it looks like it, the moon isn’t moving while we drive. E was not convinced. A few minutes later she tells me, “I’m going to ask a scientist about this moon moving stuff.”
While bribing the kids with pizza, I say, "Isn't mommy the best?!" to which E replied, "PARENTS are the best. Not just YOU."
One afternoon I was expressing how disappointed I was with how she had been acting, and she said, “We’re brother and sister, we’re supposed to fight! It's what you do!"
Once I overheard the kids playing “Alexa.” (We don't have one...and apparently we don't need one, we have kids!)
B: Alexa, play wheels on bus.
E: 🎶 Wheels on the bus go round & round... 🎶
“Not to brag, but I like being the big sister.”
For awhile anytime E completed a task she would say, “And that’s how an Elena does that.”
I'm actually very sad that she doesn't do that anymore.
E was performing a concert for her stuffed animals. Between songs she talks. For example, she once said: "Who likes the ocean? Yeah! How about cake? Well then you'll love the next song!" Any guesses on the song?
She once even created a newscast, including a cup of coffee to hold while reading the news.
“The house feels so empty without grammy and grandpa here. I know, I'll have some Triscuits at lunch, they remind me of them and Florida."
"Once upon a time there was a Marc" was the opening of E's Father's Day puppet show.
"The part I love about Charlie Brown is never giving up."
She will ALWAYS find a spot to read. This year some of my favorites have been: in any and all restaurants, in the middle of Little League opening day (she literally plopped down on an area of grass in the middle of a TON of action), anywhere outside or inside, at a Twins game that her grandma brought her to, under her covers after bedtime with a flashlight, and even laying on the ground at one of her father's gigs. So, basically, any and everywhere. Girl takes after her mom. (I mean her mommy!)
Her pure, uninhibited excitement over getting to spend an evening alone with her father at the art museum and then dinner. Way better than the daddy/daughter ball, according to her!
And, my personal favorite: on her Mother's Day card to me there was a question that asked what she would change about her mom if she could change one thing. Her answer?
"I actually would want my mom to stay as her self."
Finally, her birthday survey.
- Age: 8
- Favorite Color: purple
- Best Friend: Kylie
- Favorite Snack/Treat: granola bars (because they’re nutritious); cinnamon roll for a "once in awhile" treat
- What do you want to be when you grow up: a tourist
- Favorite Song: “Welcome to NY” by Taylor Swift
- Favorite TV Show: Loony Toons
- Favorite Movie: Moana; Beauty & the Beast; Tangled
- Favorite thing to do with family: Movie Nights
- Favorite Book (series): Ramona books
- Favorite food for breakfast: Waffles with strawberry jelly
- Favorite food for lunch: Macaroni & cheese & chicken tenders
- Favorite food for dinner: Sliders & tacos
- Most important thing learned so far: different cultures
- Favorite Toy: sketch book
- Are you afraid of anything: bees
- Favorite thing to do outside: read & write
- Favorite place to visit: Florida
- Mom's favorite thing to do with you: sharing new books to read like Ramona
- Dad's favorite thing to do with you: watch you draw.
- What is one thing you want for your birthday: a good night out for dinner, family time
- How are you celebrating your birthday this year: had an art party with Mr. D. from school (the art teacher) and going out to dinner.
E, keep believing in yourself and don't lose your sensitive heart. You are a kind, generous, funny (oh my goodness, all the jokes!) young lady and I can't wait to see what the next year brings. I'll always be your mommy, no matter what you call me.