She curled up next to me and whispered, “Good Morning.” Her two silky bears were clutched tightly to her chest and she rubbed the soft fabric on her lips the way she does every morning. I stroked her hair gently and we snuggled in silence because she’s a lot like me and doesn’t have a lot of words first thing in the morning. After a few minutes I asked her softly, “Ella, do you ever think about want to be when you grow up?” She looked at me and didn’t respond. I assumed she wasn’t quite ready for such deep conversation and stood up to go pour another cup of coffee.
All of a sudden, she hopped off of the couch on her hands and knees. She began making puppy noises and followed me into the kitchen. I looked down at her and giggled and she did her cute puppy bark to acknowledge me. She followed me back to the couch and leapt up next to me on her hands and knees. By this time Ryder was watching her every move intently and wondering if he should be concerned about the sudden appearance of this “competition.” At the very moment I raised my coffee cup to my lips, and without a single word of warning, she gave me a huge, slobbery puppy dog lick from my jawbone all the way up my cheek.
We both burst into hysterical laughter and I wiped her spit from my face. When we regained our composure I stared her down and said, “Seriously?! What on earth was that?” She looked at me and very matter-of-factly replied, “Well?! You asked what I wanted to be when I grow up! I wanna be a puppy dog!!”
One of the things I love most about my Ella is her imagination. On any given day she can be Annie lamenting the hard-knock life in the orphanage, a puppy dog begging for a treat, a stuffed animal doctor fixing boo-boos, or Elsa “Letting It Go” in the Ice Palace. When she imagines any of these things she goes into her own little world where she is completely engrossed in “the game” until she decides the game is over. She doesn’t care who is watching either because she’ll “Let it Go” right in the grocery store if she sees a potential audience to impress. And when she’s in character, she’s all in to the point where she will correct whoever dares to call her Ella when clearly she is Ariel. At this point I think it’s safe to assume that if ANY of our Crabblings are going to join Drama Club someday & have the lead role in a play, it will most certainly be her.
The coolest part about raising a kid like Ella is that she draws me in to a world that I forgot existed. My growing up years were not a walk in the park. They were full of chaos, turmoil, loneliness, and pain. At a fairly young age, imagination became pointless to me because the circumstances and realities I was forced to deal with were overwhelming. And until I had children of my own, I had forgotten what it was like to create a world in my mind and camp there long enough to pretend the possibilities.
Imagination is the best gift that childhood can offer. It fills my heart with such joy and gratitude that James and I have provided an environment where all our children are free to receive that gift. We’ve managed, by the grace of God, to create such a safe, eventless world within our home that Ella desires to retreat to her imagination and pretend all the things her heart desires. I’m grateful there are no circumstances or realities that she must dwell on…nothing to prevent her from being whatever princess, animal, or character she dreams up each day.
I don’t know what Ella will be when she grows up, but I do know I’m not in any hurry to find out. I’m content to see the world through her imagination for as long as she will let me.