You will turn seven in just a couple of weeks. I have planned your party. Well, I have planned the major details…the date and the theme and all that. I have not bought the invitations, or made lists or really done anything else, sadly.
Your brothers will both be playing in tournaments that weekend. On your birthday, you will sit in a hot, smelly gymnasium, listening to the squeak of sneakers and the bounce of basketballs and you will ask me “when is it gonna be over, Mommy” one hundred kajillion times. And I will look into those big beautiful eyes and sigh, because I know it really stinks for you, and it kind of always has.
The other day I was driving home from somewhere and I passed my favorite place on this entire green earth, the garden center. Outside they have these picnic tables set up with red and yellow umbrellas so you can buy a chili dog and sit down and have lunch during your glorious visit to the garden center. We have never done this, though. We definitely need to do this. Anyway, under one of those umbrellas sat a little boy. I think he was about 3, although I was pretty much zipping by at 60 mph, so I could be way off, but whatever. I remembered how you and I would go to the garden center together after preschool, and I would buy way too many flowers and you would sweat and get a sunburn because you have red hair and fair skin and I forgot to bring a hat or whatever. And you would whine about being hot, and itchy, and I would promise you if you behaved we could look at the fish in the pond. And you would want to spend WAY too much time looking at those fish in the sweltering heat of the greenhouse and I would hurry you along after a couple minutes. And now I think how that must stunk for you, too.
Anyway, I looked at that tiny little boy sitting under that umbrella, and I thought of you. You were tiny, like him, and now you seem so big. And your teeth are falling out and new, gigantic teeth that are too big for your mouth are coming in. You have bangs and glasses and you’re at school for so long that I hardly even see you anymore. Time has a way of slipping by quite unnoticed, Ella.
You know what is ironic? Even for all those hot, itchy trips to the garden center where you did not have fun, you asked for flowers for your birthday. You want flowers to plant in our garden. Daddy and I thought about peonies for you — you are going to love them. And we will get you those gardening gloves you wanted, too. And maybe even a watering can. You also asked for books, a new basketball, and hello kitty. I think that is the most wonderful list of birthday wishes that I’ve ever read, baby girl.
Ella, don’t ever grow up…