Somehow you are four years old.
I do not know how this happened.
Our year began with potty training, which I am now seeing is a long long process. Shortly after Christmas we decided to give up this whole pull-ups business because it just wasn’t working. Not even a little bit. After one day in regular undies you seemed to understand the concept and we were goofy excited. Perhaps a little overly optimistic. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but it has been a long journey at times. I think it has actually been the most frustrating part of parenting for me thus far. Though I would say yes, you are totally potty trained, there are still accidents now and then.
This was the year of the dollhouse for you. Your Grandpa and Grandma Vande Voort gave you a dollhouse for Christmas and it is officially your most favorite toy in the whole wide world. Nearly every day you spend several hours on the floor carefully arranging your animals – all of your animals – every animal in our house really – in the dollhouse. It is very important to you that all of them are standing inside the house. This would be much less complicated were it not for the interference of a certain small sister of yours who is insatiably curious about everything you do and say.
Though Maddie often gets in your way or disrupts what you are doing, you have an endless supply of patience. Rarely do you fight with her. You frequently play with her though she is not at your level of play. That never seems to matter. You include her as best you can and when you see she can’t handle a certain game or toy, you help her and show her what to do. The way you talk to her is the most sweet and hilarious thing I have ever heard. You call her “Mads”, and when you get up in the morning she is the person you want to see. You always need to know where she is and what she is doing. If Maddie gets hurt or upset, you bring her blankies and some of your favorite stuffed animals. Maddie adores you and I am so very glad she has you for a big sister.
We did lots of fun things with you this year. We went on a real vacation to Michigan where we had a lot of fun going to parties, riding a trolley, walking the boardwalk, and playing at the beach. We also went to the zoo which you loved. We had a close encounter with a tiger that is permanently seared in my memory. I try not to let the pictures terrify me. A couple times you went to the farm with your Daddy. You always have a lot to report when you get home.
This fall we started a little thing I called “Tot School”. You. Love. Tot School. Every week we spend 30-45 minutes learning about one letter or one number. We do crafts and worksheets. We practice coloring. We talk. It’s just you and me spending time together and I have been so impressed with how well you have been doing on your lessons. Next year you will go to preschool and I will miss you terribly. But I know you will love it and I am excited for you. For now, I love having you home everyday and being the one to teach you.
Your memory amazes me, quite frankly. You recall things from years ago that simply astound me. A memory verse is pretty easy for you. You recognize all the letters of the alphabet. You pick up songs quickly and easily. Whenever I am on praise team you seem to learn the songs right along with me and sing them in church.
You love going to Little Lambs every Wednesday morning and Kids of the Kingdom every Sunday morning. You often come home and sing the songs you learn which brings back fond memories for me. Every time I come to pick you up from these classes you run to me with a big smile on your face and your arms outstretched. It’s often the best moment of my day.
Sometimes it is very strange for me because I understand you so well. It is not unusual for you to ask me a question that makes absolutely no sense at all. But rarely has there been a time when I did not know what you were talking about. Maybe that’s because we spend so much time together. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I love understanding you. I love being able to figure out how you think. I love the closeness we have. I love that you would rather spend your time with me than just about anyone else on the planet.
Last night, as we were going through the bedtime routine, we came to the praying portion of our evening. You selected a prayer card which I normally read. Except this time, you recited it all out loud – having it perfectly memorized. Then you bowed your head, with your hands tightly clasped and without a single prompt from me you said, “Dear Lord, please be with the missionaries. Bless them and help them on their adventure. In your name, Amen.” I sobbed. There are so many times I feel like I am failing you. When you aren’t doing something other kids can do or when you are naughty or when you are upset and I can’t calm you down, I feel like my report card for the quarter is going to be full of “Needs Improvement” checkmarks. But for that brief moment, I really felt like I had done something good for you. That I had pointed you in the right direction.
I don’t know what you will be when you grow up. I like to guess sometimes. I don’t know if you will be smart, rebellious, funny, studious, shy, outgoing. I don’t know what the future holds for you. But I know who holds every single second of your tomorrows. I know who wrote these days in His book before you even came to be. I know who walks with you on whatever path you take. And I know who loves you no matter what mistakes you make. I am so very glad that He chose me to be your Mommy. I love you.