This is your final monthly update as a four year-old. In less than a month, you'll be turning five! I don't know how this is at all possible. At one time I snuggled your tiny little body in the crook of my arm as we napped in bed. You curled up on your daddy's chest for midday snoozes on the couch. We played peek-a-boo in the covers of my bed and you made us laugh with your outgoing personality and funny faces. Now, when you fall asleep in the car, I huff and puff as I carry your 48-lb. body up the stairs to your bed. When we snuggle I nearly always get hurt by some angular body part or long limb poking me. You still make me laugh, almost daily, with your funny Maddie-isms and fun, fabulous, outgoing personality. Much has changed, but so much stays the same, too.
I know I've written about your relationship with Sam before, but such goodness bears repeating. You move me to tears at least weekly with your tenderness toward him. You are gentle and kind-hearted, generous and so understanding. For all the ways Sam gets on your nerves, hurts you, and causes general chaos, you are exceedingly patient. This month we invited a new family member into our house (Big John), meaning Sam needed to move into your room. When I sat you down a few Wednesdays ago to explain what was about to happen, and what sacrifices you would have to make, your helpful, generous, can-do attitude gave me all the more reason to praise God for the heart he's given you.
Without a moment's hesitation, you headed into Sam's room and came out carrying stacks of books and toys, trip by trip, until you had filled your closet and bookshelf with all his favorite things. You approached him with joy, excitedly sharing how when he woke up the next morning all of his toys and books would be there waiting for him.
And for the next many nights, the two of you have gone to sleep happy and contented, giggling and whispering. You allow him into your bed for pre-nap snuggling and he's even stayed for many a naptime, wiggling and knotting the covers up in a heap while you lay, amused. At night you patiently remind him to get into his own bed. In the morning you come out, hand in hand, ready for another day's adventures. Honestly, I couldn't have planned it better or dreamed up a more easy transition; it is all God's grace that you love him like you do and I am SO grateful for the opportunity to have my own heart grown in love and thankfulness to a Father who would teach me the abundance of his love in the tenderness between my own two children.
At school you are learning so many new and exciting things. You love to learn and are a very good, quiet, respectful student. In the times I've volunteered in class, I've watched with equal parts amazement and pride as you wait your turn, raise your hand, make good decisions and respectfully follow the teachers' directions. When other kids have instigated trouble or started to pick on each other, you don't join in. You are quick to comfort those on the outside or kids who've been hurt. Your heart of compassion is enormous and such a gift! I praise my Father, for you are truly fearfully and wonderfully made.
We often have discussions about next year, and what Kindergarten holds for you. The thought of a longer school day (with a lunch!) is very exciting to you. We've talked at length about the timing, and the fact that you can still take a nap when you come home if you're tired out (and if you continue to take naps as a Kindergartner, well, bless your sweet little heart). I am so thrilled for you and the new adventures that await, but also hesitant to let you grow up and move on, knowing full well that your peers will have a greater and greater influence as my own diminishes. But it is another exercise in faith to trust that the work we've done in these first five years will carry you into public school with a heart of compassion, a desire to learn, and an ability to be Jesus to so many little ones who don't know him.
Your imagination never ceases to amaze me. Just in the past few months, you've discovered a special place in the bushes near our house where there is a natural, light-filled "clubhouse," your very own space to fill with pretend creatures, creative scenes, and imaginary friends. You and Sam each have your own "rooms" behind the tall hedges, unseen to passersby, where your minds and hearts and bodies flourish. I know you will remember these moments with fondness, as my own favorite childhood memories are tied to pretending outside with my siblings and cousins, spending hours upon hours with only our imaginations to guide us.
I realize my post is dreamy and inspired and joy-filled this morning, and I'm so grateful. This Christmas Season has filled us all with such joy and wonder and childlike faith. It is a magical time of year, and I'm so grateful that we get to experience it through your eyes. I love how you announce "family advent time" each day, the way your eyes glimmer when you open the door on our little advent house, the way your secret dimple shows up in the left corner of your sweet little face as you experience the joy of Christmas. It is such a treasure knowing you, Madeleine Noelle, our little gift of Christmas!