Friday, May 25, 2012

to my daughter, on her last day of preschool

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Dear Maddie,

Today is your last day of preschool. It seems like only yesterday that you started, and I remember it clearly: your blond, wispy hair fell into ringlets that graced your shoulders. You wore pink and brown stripes and polka dots and an expectant smile on your round face. On your hands were two one-cent stamps, "protection" from the bees that might exist on the playground. Without thinking much about it, I snapped your picture in front of our door, a tradition that continues to this day.

When I sent you off for your first day of school, I worried whether you'd make a friend the first day. I worried you'd miss me. I wondered if it was okay that you refused to wear socks beneath your rubber-soled shoes.

So much has changed in three years. You wear your hair shorter now, a compromise borne out of many tangly mornings. It is mostly straight, with a gentle wave, though I keep a lock of your ringlets tucked away to remind me of those early days. You pick your own outfits, often multi-colored and multi-patterned, never boring or simple. You remember to bring your own book bag, you brush your own teeth and wash your own face. 

Next year you start Kindergarten at a public school. You will no longer be one of the biggest kids, but one of the smallest in a sea of large bodies. You won't have four teachers to accommodate your need for hugs, attention, and an audience for your larger-than-life storytelling. At this point the least of my worries in sending you out into the real world are the bees on the playground.

I've spent the last five and a half years instilling every important value and piece of wisdom I could possibly think of in order to prepare you for what lies ahead. I've snuggled you to sleep so you felt comforted and secure. I've stood my ground and enforced consequences even when it hurt to see you in pain. I've encouraged you to test the waters of independence, holding back in order to let you try something on your own, even if it meant you might fail.

And now, with your time at preschool drawing to an end, I hope that the lessons of the past three years will stick with you, carrying through into Kindergarten and the years beyond. Together we've learned:

You are a unique and beautiful child of God. In the years ahead, there will be ample opportunities to compare yourself to others. There will always be someone who is better than you; someone prettier, smarter, faster, funnier...but there is no one like you. There never has been and there never will be, because you are uniquely and wonderfully made. You are my precious girl and, more importantly, a daughter of the King. 

School is fun! Learning is a delight, and any new information that is shared is soaked up like a sponge into that marvelous brain of yours. As academics continue to grow increasingly difficult, I will help you to remember the joy of seeing something for the first time, of discovering a new skill, the anticipation of whether an idea will play out. Tests don't define you. Grades don't define you. Teachers don't define you. You have a brain that is all yours. Make the most of it!

There are going to be bad days. The best thing we can do is weather the storms together, holding fast to what we know to be true and secure, and hold out hope that tomorrow will be a better day (thanks, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse.) You will make mistakes. But as Mrs. Powell always says, "No big deal."

Family comes first. As seasons change, as lives become busier, as activities increase and time together decreases, I will fight for family time. We will gather at the dinner table at the end of the day, sharing our highs and lows, praying together, and connecting. Our home will always be a safe place for you, for your friends, and for the growing community we call "family." Just as we'll expect you to spend time with us, you can count on us to carve out special time just for you.

Finally, nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever separate you from the love of your Father in heaven. He is yours, forever and ever. No matter what the years ahead bring--trouble, heartache, disobedience, joy, triumph--you will always be loved, adored, cared for and treasured by God. He is all you need now and all you'll ever need.

I love you SO much, my big, big girl, and preschool graduate.



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