Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mommy! Daddy! Ella!

Ella loves her family time. She chants, "Mommy! Daddy! Ella! Mommy! Daddy! Ella!" when we get to do something all together.

"Guess what, Ella! Daddy's home today! We're going to have breakfast together!"

"Mommy! Daddy! Ella!"

We love it. Justin and I look at each other with delight; she keeps chanting. We've even adopted it into our vernacular: "Ella, we're going to the grocery store. Mommy-Daddy-Ella. Put on your flip-flops."

When it's just the two of us, she knows it's "Mommy! Ella!" I like to think she's as enthusiastic about our time as she is about Our Time, but who am I kidding--we all prefer "Mommy! Daddy! Ella!" time.

So today, when Justin went back to work after six days off in a row, there were some adjustments to be made.

The Festival of Mommy! Daddy! Ella! was over.

On Day One of The Festival of Mommy! Daddy! Ella! we went to the Summer Concert by the Pier.

On Days 2-4, we visited Justin's college roommate John at his new house in Palm Springs. We swam, watched Olympics, played with Ella's toys, and they baked cookies. (It was 116 degrees outside, but in air conditioning you can do anything!)

On Day 5 of The Festival of Mommy! Daddy! Ella! we went to an Angels baseball game.
Before he left he had to do some work on the computer, so she and I were playing in the living room. She brought out three puzzles and asked me to sit on the floor with her. (When she "asks" me to sit, she clears a spot for me and points "sit! sit! sit!")

"You want to do this puzzle?"

She nodded. "Daddy, too!"

"Daddy's doing some work right now. You'll have to ask him." I knew this was almost not playing fair, but to be perfectly honest, I wanted him to join us because I knew I'd be with her on my own very soon. Plus, in the past I've said "no" for him and then told him about it and been met with a response something like, "Awww.... you should have told me! I would have...."

As soon as she walked toward the kitchen with the puzzle I stopped listening to her. When she came back after a minute saying, "Daddy, too! Daddy, too! Daddy, too!" I wasn't sure about the results. "Daddy, too? Did you ask him to do the puzzle with you? Yeah? But he's busy, huh?" She wasn't giving me straight answers, so I checked for myself. He had to finish a couple of things, but was trying to hurry so that he could spend a few moments with us before leaving.

That's what I thought.

"Daddy's busy. Let's start the puzzle and then maybe he'll come and join us." We did the first seven letters of the alphabet and she lost interest. By the time he came into the living room she was golfing and I was surrounded by puzzle pieces. A few "golf lessons" later, we said our goodbyes.

I wrapped Justin's present for our tenth anniversary in Ella's new toy--he wanted golf lessons. (photo from July 20, 2012)
 I should know by now to have a better game plan in place for The Return to Work Experience. It always hits me, too--that Sunday Blues feeling, then the breezy goodbye, then the sudden solitude-except-for-the-two-year-old dip.

Sometimes, when he walks out the door, she stands with her palms pressed against the screen repeating, "Bye-bye, Daddy! Bye-bye, Daddy!" He returns the favor with as many "bye-bye Ella"s as is practical before he gets into the car, and then I coax her away from the door with something to do.

Today, I got myself a beer and her a water so that we could "cheers" to girls night and then start doing stickers and making "jewelry" with the princess card that Grandpa Jim and Grandma Aggie sent. I thought we'd just do one ring and one bracelet, but she was engaged, so we went for it. When she was wearing three paper rings on her fingers, she decided it was time to really go for it, so she pulled over her dress-up box and got out her wands and tiara and princess costumes. Suddenly, she saw my photo-coaster on the floor. "Daddy!" she squealed.

"Yes, that's a picture of Daddy."

"Daddy. Daddy. Daddy." She picked it up. "Daddy!"

She's kissed this coaster before in similar circumstances, so I was just watching and waiting.

"Daddy. Ella's!" She claimed it as her own and put the coaster on her art table (my As-Is section in Ikea pine coffee table from 12 years ago).

 Later, as we set the table for dinner, she asked for Daddy. I told her he would have dinner, too, but at work. Tonight, she was my dinner date. "Dinner date!" She really likes the sound of that phrase and always repeats it joyfully when I use it. (It comes in handy when I compliment the manners of my dinner date.)

Before bed each night we say prayers. When we say grace at the table, we hold hands--Mommy-Daddy-Ella. So, rather than just folding our own hands for our nighttime prayers, we have options. I like it when the three of us hold hands. But since it's just the two of us so often, she would fold her hands between mine. Then one day, "The Guys" (Dolly, Baby, Penguin, George (a blanket/monkey)) had to start praying with us. Naturally, I end up holding three of them with their little paws/hands pressed together in one of my hands, so that I can help her get situated with her one stuffed animal or doll in her hands.

"Whose hands do you want to hold for prayers tonight?"

"Daddy."

My heart. "Daddy's working. But we can pray for him tonight, and God will watch over him, and he will know we are thinking of him. Daddy will be home in the morning. Whose hands do you want to hold for prayers tonight?"

"George."