We pulled up in Mrs. Smith’s driveway early yesterday morning while the rain was still light. I pulled Ella and three dresses out of the van and marched up to her back porch door and let Ella knock. “Come on in!” we heard yelled through the kitchen. Ella immediately grabbed my leg like she does when sirens go by; poor kid is just not accustomed to shouting. We entered the spotless house and found our way to Mrs. Smith’s office. She was sorting out music on her computer and listening to Elvis, old fat Elvis. Ella’s eyes were wide.
“Well, how are you Ella?” Mrs. Smith leaned down and pinched her chin while I unwrapped dresses and laid them out for examination. Ella tried to be invisible. “Say Hi to Mrs. Smith, Ella” I prodded she peeped out from behind my leg and offered “hi”. Mrs. Smith smiled and asked to see Ella’s dress on. Ella tugged her tiny shirt off and pulled the dress over her head. Mrs. Smith ordered Ella to “Put your arms out sweetie and keep them there like you’re an airplane” Ella did so while we chatted about all the preparations for Mr. Smith’s approaching retirement party.
I waited for Mrs. Smith to put pins in the dress but she never did, she just said "about a fingernails worth on each side and I’ll hand stitch is so you don’t loose any of the fluff". Had it been anyone else not pinning I would’ve been concerned but I was not about to challenge Mrs. Smith, she has been making dresses longer than I’d been alive. I dressed Ella and put her book and some fruit snacks on the floor while I pulled on my dress. We talked all about the trip and how I had wished to have Ella potty trained before we left but now there was only three weeks to go and Mrs. Smith interrupted with “Well, just do it! She’s ready, she can talk and walk and get her clothes on and off! It only took me two days to train Stacy” and Mrs. Smith told me all about putting her daughter (now about my age) in underwear the first time. She made it sound so very easy.
As I was pulling the second dress on to be measured up by Mrs. Smith she leaned down and told Ella “You don’t need diapers anymore, you can go in the potty now, right?” Ella tried to blend in with the curtains behind her. When we had finished up the sizing on the second dress Mrs. Smith invited Ella into her grandkids playroom and told her to pick out a few videos as her grandchildren were far beyond wanting to watch Winnie the Pooh and Barney. Ella picked a few out and Mrs. Smith loaded my diaper bag up with another eight as well as a computer game for toddlers. I asked her if she would take a check for the dresses hoping to bring up the subject of fees, always a hard topic to discuss among friends. She waved her hand and said “Wait until I’m finished sweetie.” We thanked her and left.
Today is Ella’s second day in underwear without accident. She boasts "Mrs. Smith said I could wear underwear." Tomorrow I will write a thank you note and when the dresses are done I will pay her whatever fees she asks.