Monday, August 15, 2011

Maddie: 55 Months

My Dearest Punky Pies,

Another month gone, another month older. You are funny and dramatic, witty and opinionated. You love to lead, delegate, organize and head things up. Did I mention you like to be in charge? You are creative and artistic. You are kind and gentle and incredibly patient with your brother. Yet one of my favorite things about this month is the neverending stream of things that come out of your mouth.

Just last week you said to your brother, "Sam, do you think I'm cute?" He replied, "No." (I'm thinking, great, now we have to talk our way out of this one.) Yet you smiled and returned with, "You're right, I'm PRETTY!" We are so relieved that you have a strong sense of self, rooted in the fact that you are a beloved daughter of God himself! Because you bear his image, you are indeed beautiful.

The week before that the two of you were engaged in an intense back-and-forth discussion about ninjas versus robots. Sam, obviously, was rooting for robots, but you decided ninjas were mightier. The two of you bickered and grew louder and louder before I intervened. "Maddie," I said, "sometimes it's helpful to compromise with your brother. Could you nicely tell him that you'd rather be a ninja than a robot, please?" "Ok. Mama. Sam, I'd rather be a ninja than a robot, okay buddy?" Sam: "Ok, Maa Maa." Maddie: "I know, bud, I'll be a robot ninja. They are the super most powerful!"

I wish I could make this stuff up. I'd be a really good writer. But you two just say the funniest things and interact in the craziest ways. I hardly imagined I'd be settling robot vs. ninja disputes between my two and four year-olds.

You seem to be going through a crazy growth spurt. Just today I was uploading and editing pictures from our hike with the family and there is one picture where your head is blocked by the entrance to a rock cave. Your legs dangle down and your arms are crossed across your lap, very adult-like. For just a minute, I didn't recognize the body. You are SO big.

As a matter of fact, one afternoon last week you fell asleep in the car and so I carried you up to your room. As I ascended the stairs, I felt so incredibly small. Usually you just feel big to me, but on this particular day it was the other way around. I was acutely aware of how much of me you took up, arms and legs wrapped around my torso, the weight of your body laboring my breathing. I felt like a little Mary Lou Retton. Crazy.

When we drove up for your last day of Summer day camp last week, we talked about the week and how fun it had been. You remembered all the cool things you had done and the projects that you finished. We discussed how it was your last day and you said you wanted to go at least forty-three more days. By the time we got to the door, your demeanor completely changed. You clung to my leg, buried your face against me, and said you were scared and your tummy felt funny. "I just want to be with you, Mama," you said. I hardly knew what to say or how to respond. Never, ever have you refused to go somewhere. I stayed for a while, hoping you'd warm up to your peers and grow excited when your best buddy arrived. But you never did. We left, hand in hand, as you described what you were experiencing. Eventually it came out you were a little nervous, a little unsure because you were sad camp was over. In your own little way, you wanted to be in control of the last day. And so we hustled off to the zoo, on an unexpected, fun little trip, and it was fabulous. How grateful I am that you can communicate your feelings so effectively, and also, that you still kind of like to be with me.

In all the ways you are growing and maturing and becoming more independent, you still slow down from time to time, needing to sit on my lap or snuggle extra long at the end of the day. You are so big that I have to remind myself to still baby you at times, to hold you close and carry you up the stairs and cover you in nighttime kisses. You are so capable yet also my little girl.

It has become increasingly clear throughout this year that your love language is special time. The very thought of a date with Daddy or special alone time with Mama is enough to perk you up, fill you with giddy joy, and inspire all kinds of adventures. You glow when allowed to carry on in conversation, to have undivided attention and special privileges. All of the troublesome, attention-getting behaviors just disappear and you flourish. We have been prioritizing these times so as to allow you that unique time to shine. (And sometimes we argue over who gets to take you out. It's that much fun.)

I can't believe that in a few short weeks you'll be starting Pre-K, going five days a week! In some ways, I can hardly wait. You are SO ready for the stimulating and fun educational environment. You've grown tired of our local trips and my attempts at keeping your brain active (enough with the letters, mom!) But I also know that this is the end of an era. You will be attending school every day of the week, like a real live person. I'll have so much time to myself, and with Sam, and you'll have so much time with your peers and amazing teachers.

And I'll send you off, pigtails bouncing, pumas pounding the pavement, with hardly a look back in my direction. I know you'll do great. You are so capable, so smart, so fun and so curious. But when the day comes that you need an extra hug, a kiss for reassurance, or some special Mama time, I'll be right here, waiting.



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