Happy 6th Birthday! In just a matter of days you will cease to be a Kindergartner and will graduate to First grade. We celebrated your birthday last year as we moved into our new house. And when I think back, I wonder if we left all your littleness back at our old house. Suddenly you are a big kid and I feel like I am ever running that parenting race – the one where I sprint ahead at times to show you the way to go, the one where I am running alongside you to cheer you on, and the one where I find myself slipping behind in all my efforts to keep up.
The first most obvious sign of the passing of your years is how tall and grown up you look. You seem to have skipped size 5 clothes. There are times when you come up to me to ask me a question and I am shocked to find your face so much closer to mine. And yet, you are ever my snuggler. You still love to sit in my lap, love to be carried, love to hold hands, and love kisses and hugs. At least several times a week I get surprise squeezing hugs with your head pressed tight against my stomach.
Along with your ever growing body, I am amazed at how much you have learned in just the last year. You went from little girl just out of preschool to big kindergartner who can read whole books without any help or coaching. You are a fast learner, a hard worker and a diligent student.
In all those papers I get home from school, I am the most fascinated to simply look through them and see how you colored them and drew on them. Your pictures are fantastic. Your coloring is impeccable. Your artistic flair is always present. There are many days when I will find that you have been quietly coloring in your room for an hour or more. Giving you a set of markers and a page to color is all you really need to be occupied.
When you aren’t busy with crafts or school, I know you are busy playing with Reagan. The two of you still spend hours together playing legos or building a castle out of blocks. Sometimes you play Barbies together. Sometimes you play restaurant or store or camping together. Frequently there are disagreements. But the odds of the two of you playing separately are pretty low. In fact, every day at lunch recess the two of you forego playing with your classmates and friends in favor of playing together. It is hard, sometimes, for you to be the little sister. You watch Reagan do all the bigger grown up things ahead of you and you try to match her. Many times, though we never push you, you push yourself to do things that are years beyond your age simply because your big sister is doing it. I admire the bravery with which you meet these challenges. There are times I let you go beyond your years, and there are times I have to force you to slow down a little bit. It’s always a delicate balance.
There’s Hunter, too, of course. You still adore and dote on him. He loves the affection a little less as time goes on. But he will probably always love your kindness, tenderness and attention. You have become one of the greatest big sisters. Your patience is limitless. You take time to instruct and help him. You include him. You do things with him simply because you know it will delight him. You give so selflessly and sacrificially and it is beautiful to watch.
You are still my little actress. You have a flair for the dramatic. You are a natural performer. You might be a singer like your momma. The world (or the driveway or the sidewalk or the staircase or the living room) is your stage. And there is nothing on earth like your smile. You light up a room with your giddy goofiness. Your laughter is infectious. You watch the world around you with wide wondering eyes.
There was a time when I thought you were a little bit shy and reserved. However, in the past weeks I have witnessed multiple kids coming over to hug you goodbye at the end of a school day. I have seen you catch a friend unexpectedly in public and their faces light up with a smile when they spot you. By all accounts, you are a wonderful friend.
You are so different from Reagan in so many ways, and I love the uniqueness that you have found in yourself. I don’t very often worry about you Maddie. You are such a joy and an easy-going kid that I feel content much of the time to simply watch you spread your wings and flutter around a bit before you soar. I get glimpses of what you will be like in the future, and I like what I see.
I think the word I hear most often about you is “sweet”. And you really are. I picture the years ahead and I almost giggle with excitement at what your future holds. Maddie, even if there are hard things ahead for you, and there almost surely are, I know you will rest in the arms of your Savior. I know you will run your race with joy and that sparkling smile. My greatest prayer is that you will seek to spread the joy in your heart to others, that you will warm them with God’s love and give them the gift of hope and promise. What a treasure you are, Maddie girl.
I love you so.