I haven't been writing about Ella much, not because I don't love her, which I do, but because she's 12 and I'm very conscious of respecting her privacy. She's had a tough year, but that's her story to tell someday, when she's ready.
Today I'm breaking my promise.
Now that Ella is 12, we are getting the full pre-teen treatment. Doors are slammed, eyes are rolled, sighs are heaved. For the most part, we just roll with it, grateful that it's not anything worse. But we definitely see her pushing for more independence and freedom.
Her teen-age-ness is popping up in some unexpected places. Last Wednesday I picked Ella up from school. As I had done every day for six weeks when she was in the wheelchair, I walked across the school driveway and met her on the sidewalk. She was mortified. Like hand covering her face so her friends wouldn't see her mortified.
She marched to the car 10 paces ahead of me the whole way.
Me: So am I not supposed to cross the driveway anymore?
Ella: Eye roll.
Me: I should just wait for you over on the grass?
Ella: Huge sigh
Me: How about I stand over on the grass and yell "Ella, sweetie! Over here baby!"
Ella: You wouldn't dare.
What she doesn't know is that I absolutely would dare.
The next morning I had to drop Ella off at school early for a field trip. It was still dark when we arrived, and I didn't see any teachers out supervising, so I parked, intending to get out of the car.
Ella: You don't need to get out of the car.
Me: I just want to make sure you're in the right place.
Ella: I know where I'm supposed to be.
Me: But I just want to confirm with your teachers.
Ella: You don't need to get out of the car and talk to my teachers.
Me: I don't see anyone here. How do you know it's the right place?
Ella: MOM! I see other kids who are going on the field trip. You don't need to get out of the car.
Me: So what you're saying is that you don't want me to get out of car?
So that's fun. Ella's siblings are not pleased with her attitude, either. She has this need to prove that she is the smartest person in the house. And her sense of righteous indignation about any perceived slights or injustices is tiring.
But then there are times when Ella reminds me just how awesome a kid she really is.
On Friday, the middle school was shut down due to a broken water main, and all the students were sent home at 9:00. Ella came home with grand plans to ride her bike to meet friends and go to the playground. I told her she could, and then came the surprising part - she offered to hook the trailer to the bike and take Elizabeth with her.
Elizabeth was thrilled to go on an adventure with the big girls, and I was thrilled to have an empty house.
Maybe we will all survive her teen years, after all.