Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tribute To Ellie

I figured summer was ending soon when Luke got sponsored for his 25th time, officially becoming a true Guitar Hero. Caroline has worn her crayons down to stubs and Amelia has memorized every episode of iCarly. Ellie has nearly finished digging a large hole she plans to use as a tornado shelter in the empty lot behind us, and I’ve almost filled in the tan line from my new swimsuit. Yes, it’s been a pretty productive summer at our house. And now a new chapter of our lives is about to begin.

Tomorrow I will send my baby to Kindergarten. My eleven-year career as a stay-at-home mom to children too young to go to school, where I excelled at leading sing-a-longs in the drive-thru lane and herding cats through the Target parking lot, will officially end. No one will be home with me during the week to ask me for a drink or a snack….or a ball of twine, a blowtorch, and fingernail polish for “a project”. My house, for 7 hours, 180 days each year, will be quiet. Folks, there is a God.

But the tear I (may or may not) shed as Caroline marches through the Kindergarten doors to her unsuspecting teacher won’t be the only one to roll down my cheek. For I will also watch my oldest baby, Ellie, walk into school as a 6th-grader. (I’ll also watch my 2nd and 4th graders make their way into the building, but let’s be honest. Those really aren’t milestones. I’ve had those before, and they’ve lost their novelty. No offense, Luke and Amelia.)

Remember 6th grade? Being the big kid on the elementary school campus? Kindergarteners were puny. Fifth-graders were wanna-be’s. Reagan was president.

The 6th-graders ride the wave of privilege that comes with age all year long. They are the leaders of the school, the most senior members of the student body. Today’s 6th-graders know how to burn their own CD’s, can identify each Jonas Brother, and learn about Reagan during history lessons. Some even carry cell phones. And now I’ve got one of those --- though without the cell phone, MUCH to her dismay.

How she got to this point is a mystery to me. I remember her first day of Kindergarten. Amelia was 3, Luke was 1, Caroline was in the works, and I spent the whole day curled up on Ellie’s bed clutching her teddy bear. She fell asleep on the way home from school that afternoon; turned out it had been an exhausting day for both of us.

Since then she’s made Science Fair, Parent-Teacher Conference, and School Carnival part of our annual vocabulary. She gave an Oscar-worthy presentation on the Chinook Indians a couple years ago. She created a slide show using PowerPoint and had the good sense to store it on a jump drive (whatever that is) right before our computer crashed last spring.

She says she is too old for dresses and loves her new haircut with layers and bangs. She suckered my mom into buying her mascara and Dave and I into buying her a stand-up bass. And she can’t wait to learn to play it, even though it’s twice as big as she is.

We've taught her about the birds and the bees, Santa Claus, and the fine are of TP-ing --- in that order. She’s taught us patience and love and got us hooked on American Idol.

And now she’s about to step into the world of 6th grade. I’m just not sure how she got to be this old, considering I’ve hardly aged. I realize there is much, much more to come, and I look forward to it all. But for now I will simply watch in awe as Ellie, like she has done her whole life, blazes this new path for our family. I know she has all the tools she needs to do it well. I just hope I do too.


la_vie_en_shoes said...

Beautiful! What a lovely tribute to Ellie.

irun4fun said...

I read all of your stories and they are fantastic! Thank you for reminding me how funny and beautiful life with children can be! I will definitely be a regular reader and it looks like you are on your way to being a "regular" writer. Blog on, sister!