It’s called the best day of the year in tennis: the second Monday at Wimbledon when all round of 16 matches for both women and men are played. I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m. — an 11-hour time difference between London and Hawaii.
Yesterday a different kind of event took place here in our humble home in Honolulu: a playdate for Ellen and a classmate. Ben and I pursue playdates with some trepidation. Some parents politely pass right away. Others who try it once fall into two categories: those who are bold enough to ask questions about any “issues” Ellen may have and those who don’t ask but who clearly aren’t inclined to have another playdate. (Ben and I also know that same-sex couples aren’t everybody’s cup of tea even if the Western world is far more accepting than I ever thought it could be.)
I try to head things off by making it clear Ellen doesn’t have any serious medical issues although her smaller ear passages mean swimming can be dicey. Parents of Ellen’s classmates or fellow Girl Scout parents know that Ellen is very articulate in English and German, that she reads beautifully, that she loves to run around like most kids.
But there are small differences. Being an only child with two doting fathers, Ellen can slip into little girl talk even though we tell her it might make people think she cannot speak clearly. She is growing into her long legs and looks a little like a fawn finding her way. One parent with whom we have had only fleeting contact tried to lecture me a year ago about her belief that Ellen will never be fully coordinated. I kept the conversation short by asking about her life experience and then by stating that I’m still not coordinated!
But we also have success stories on the playdate front. Yesterday was one of them. A wonderful couple and their daughter visited our home for several hours! The kids played well together, the adults had fun conversations. The subject of Ellen’s extra chromosome never really came up other than in indirect references about tangential issues and a few understanding nods. We even agreed, after our first playdate, to have more. After the family left and Ellen went to bed, Ben and I let ourselves be washed over by waves of relief. Normalcy is a very subjective concept, but everything about yesterday seemed normal!
For the greatest day in the tennis year, Wimbledon also seemed pretty normal. Andy Murray, Roger Federer and the Williams sisters won easily. Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe, talented young Americans, do not quite seem ready to be serious contenders for a major championship. We had a few minor rain delays! Even Martina Hingis is still winning. Like the Williams sisters, she is still a potential winner of any tournament she enters — albeit in doubles and mixed doubles, no longer singles. I never expected the second Monday of Wimbledon to be less exciting than a playdate, but sometimes it’s nice when there are no major upsets at home or at Wimbledon!