Last weekend we had friends over for dinner. They brought their 11-year-old son, B.

B has a brother two years older than he, so he’s never played the big-kid role. Until Ella caught him.

It was hilarious to watch Ella seek this boy out whenever he got out of her sight. She’s hardly ever instigated play with anyone, especially boys. B is a good kid, a little geeky, and he turned out to be a great sport.

Ella quickly took him by the hand and introduced him to Purple Baby, Baby Shelly and Raggedy Anne. She led him to her room … and shut him inside, holding him hostage to make-believe baking. She led him outside and showed him how to play with the dogs. She took him books, “here, read this. Read this one to me.”

And when he managed to break free, Ella was like a shark, circling the house and suddenly coming up from behind him to take his arm in hers. “Hold my hand.” “Come with me.” “Let’s go over here.”

When they left, she said, “I want to give B a hug.”

So, she asked him if she could hug him, and he said yes, and she hugged his neck really big.

Where’s my little girl? She used to be so shy. She’s growing up so fast.

Which is why I invested today in a 12 gauge pump-action and a dozen padlocks.