Portrait of a (little) Lady

February 24, 2016
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As I think about how you’ve grown and changed this last year, I can’t help but smile. All the normal developments that accompany year 4 to 5 arrived just in time. You had the usual explosion of interest in learning–writing, very basic math, deductive reasoning, following stories and plots, extended imaginative play and (finally) an interest in coloring, drawing and cutting. You dropped some of your toddler-ish expressions and malapropisms. Just last year, you would run around the house saying, “I’m Haven Compton. I’m reducing myself!” I finally came to understand that you were introducing yourself. Also, just a few months ago, you were still unable to pronounce any “s” blends, substituting them with other letters or leaving them off entirely. Snow was “tow,” Neosporin was “neoporin,” stop was “Top!” stand–“tand”; snake– “take” and many more. I think our all time favorite is hearing you declare when we all noted the strong skunk scent on the way home from church last year: “Oh no! We have KUNKS in Wins-con-sin!!!” We worked and worked and worked with you. We laughed and laughed too–especially the boys–until your face would darken with an angry scowl and you yelled “Top!” at which point the hooting and howling began afresh. You thought we were mocking you, when really we were just enjoying you. Time has robbed us of these last little remnants of your babyhood too.

You are still at times completely sidelined by fears. Your chant through a dark forest would probably be more like “Snakes, and Blood, and People laughing at me, Oh my!”

I’ve been woken countless times in the middle of the night because of your recurring bad dream about a snake biting you. Our conversations usually go something like this:  “Mommy! I had a bad dream again! Me: Haven, Look around, there are no snakes in your room. Think about something else, and ask God to help you. Haven: “I try to think about other things, but my head just keeps turning it back to the bad dream.”

Or this familiar rant: “Don’t talk about blood!!! You’re making me think I have blood!” (More shrieking) Or there’s the defiance about wearing the clothes I pick out for you because “people will laugh at me.” Or in an attempt to persuade me to to lay out another outfit, “Last time I wore this, people said ‘You look like a boy.’” (Lies. Sophisticated lies)

Though you are often filled with fear, you are also full of life and good humor and there is a thoughtfulness and gentleness to you that I can’t get enough of. Recently you and I were in the car after a rough morning getting out the door. You seemed to be stewing a bit, so I asked what you were thinking about. I was greeted with a long, dramatic sigh followed by: “I’m just thinking so many things, mommy. It’s hard to say just one.” 

You regale me with stories about all your stuffed animals–the things they say and do and the things they’re afraid of. I find them clothed in your t-shirts, jammies and even socks, strapped into car seats, bundled into your bed or propped up in your rocking chair. You hardly ever forget the name of a new friend. And you often remember their parents’ names as well. You are compassionate when others are hurting and are surprisingly thoughtful in the ways you care for them. Just last week when I was sick with a particularly rough respiratory virus, you went around the house picking things up, folding towels and blankets, and vacuuming floors–all because you, as you later told Daddy “wanted to help mommy because she was coughing.” You’ve overheard conversations Dad and I have had about friends going through difficult circumstances and have asked days later how they’re doing and if we can do something to help them. 

You love everything pretty (read: sparkly and glittery) and have a good eye for color. You have declared that pink, purple, and yellow are girl colors and that’s it’s not fair that boys get ALL the other colors. You like things to be organized and kept neat (though you certainly can trash your room). You’ve been reduced to tears when the boys unfold the bathroom towel or during a play date when friends dump and scatter toys around your room. You love to help me–especially with cooking and baking, but you’ll help sort and fold laundry, empty the silverware from the dishwasher, set the table, and vacuum when I ask as well. 

You love books and stories and singing and running. You ask great questions. The first time I read Sleeping Beauty, you wondered whether Maleficent was bad before she was excluded from the invitation list for Aurora’s birthday party, or if that neglect caused her to turn bad. Yesterday on our way home from church you asked: “Did Jesus know when he was a kid that he was going to heal people?”  

You love to dress up like princesses, but will without a moment’s hesitation dive into the dirt pile in our backyard or play tag with the boys in your class after church. You’ll happily dig for worms and stomp through mud puddles. And you are always, always up for a wrestling match with daddy and your brothers. You’re one competitive game player and when fights break out, you’re self-assured that you alone are seeing things clearly and are determined to have the last word.

But above almost everything else–even cupcakes and doughnuts–you love grandparents. When we moved here–the distance to Grandma Compton’s house grew from a couple miles to a few hundred miles, and one of the first questions you asked was, “Who will be my grandma here?” Dear Mrs. Bullmore has stepped up to that task, having you over for cookie baking and game playing. You’re never happier than when Grandmas and Papas are visiting. All these things in one little five year old of a lady! What will God make of it all I wonder.

I usually write a long letter with a prayer, a thought, or a dream for you kids on your birthdays, (see here, here, here and here!) but today I find myself parroting you, sweet girl–I just have so many thoughts, Haven, it’s hard to say just one.

Time has been chipping away at my delusional belief that I can somehow control you kids–all the influences in your life, your physical and mental health, even the way you think. Instead, the amount of control I have over your life is inversely proportional to each birthday we celebrate. With every passing year I see my control lessening, just as I see your independence growing. You still need and want me, but there is an independence to your thinking that simultaneously impresses and frightens me. 

You aren’t really mine–though I choke on the words as I say them. You are God’s. And as the catechism that we’ve learned reminds us–this truth “is our only hope in life and death.” I cannot by the strength of my hands or the power of my will determine your future or plot out the best route for your life. And you shouldn’t trust me to try. But you have a father in heaven who can. He has already carefully laid out each step you’re to take. The years ahead stretch out in shadow for me, but to Him they are clear. I take great comfort in that truth, because I know this God’s heart, and it’s one of love. It’s a heart that “did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all.” And after such great expense, He will surely not hesitate to give us everything else we need in this life. His plans will include both smooth roads and difficult trails, but through it all the current of His love will

be “underneath you, all around you, leading onward, leading homeward, to His glorious rest above.” 

So, if I have one clear thought or prayer for you on your fifth birthday–it’s this: You belong to God. And that is a good thing. I pray your heart finds its hope in this knowledge. 

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Waving on the floats at your first small town Independence Day parade

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Enjoying being outside on one of Wisconsin’s finest Fall days

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Fishing last spring. I can hardly look at this picture now. Two days later I found out you had lice–and had likely had it for some time.

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The nit-picking process. Your eyes were glazed over from the Handy Manny marathon I let you indulge in.

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My girl

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Tag along on one of mommy and daddy’s monday morning coffee dates. Bribed with a doughnut and tv…

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Funny faces. We discovered just how good you are at charades this past year. You were meant for the stage, sweetheart.

You learned to swim last summer in Florida and I caught it on camera

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My kitchen helper. I’m going to miss these days!

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Taking your cousin’s to your favorite place–Mike’s Chicken and Donuts

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On your feet on the ice.

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Your Jasmine get-up from Grandma Compton

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Trying on sunglasses at our favorite store. Target =)

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