Maybe it’s the way her hair curls to beautifully, or the way her smile has always been exceptionally bright. Maybe it’s her ability to make people feel special. Maybe it’s a little girl trapped inside a woman’s body, that comes out when she’s excited or playing a game. Nadine loves creatures with fur, especially the ones that neigh. She has friends she calls on the phone, can clean a kitchen well, and loves to write letters. A woman of habit, she sleeps in the exact same position every night. Her little sisters adore her, and the other day Nadine said something funny to Betty: You know English fully now, don’t you? When we were eating bacon the other day, Nadine discovered she actually liked it and said, I think I’m finally coming to my senses about it. You got that right! Today she started back doing a special homeschool girls’ horse club with a few girls her age. She proudly donned her helmet she’s been dying to wear since Christmas, and I left her happily basking in the environment where she thrives.
Maybe it’s the way his bright blue eyes haven’t changed since he was a baby. Maybe it’s the way his body is swiftly changing into a young man. Maybe it’s the way I look at my phone and see a note from him telling me I’m the best mom ever… usually on a day when I’m feeling anything but good. Maybe it’s the way we both connect through music. The other day he walked into the kitchen and “Don’t Stop Believin'” was playing on the sound dock. He sighed and said, I love Journey. His peace-loving soul hates conflict and strives for resolution. Right now he is taking archery lessons and is one of the best shots in his class. He is counting the days until he can drive a car, and I have to remind him how awesome it is to be a kid. His feet are bigger than his mama’s. Today he was looking for the peanut butter in the cupboard. He poked around a bit then said, Maybe you can see it, because you’re taller. He paused and looked at me, then added, Well, not that much taller, and chuckled. He is a good observer. Once he saw how Elsie had dressed herself. I don’t remember the exact outfit, but generally it has to do with stripes, polka dots and flowers combined. He said, Mom, I always thought Elsie would be good trend-setter. When I asked the boys why they had their shirts off the other day (when it wasn’t hot outside) Elijah said, Because it makes us stronger!
Maybe it’s the way he is always catching up to his growing body. Maybe it’s the way his giant puppy paw hands will one day match the rest of his muscular body. Maybe it’s the way he leaps over three stairs at a time in his roller-blades and makes this mama’s heart beat very fast. Maybe it’s the way his heart tips the scales of my own when he wraps his arms around me and tells me he loves me. Maybe it’s in his smile that’s so big it makes his eyes squint closed. For Jack, an umbrella becomes a parachute, taking him to another world where there are things to fight and conquer. He is okay with going to the store wearing a button-down shirt, soccer shorts, boots with no laces, a holster with gun, and a cowboy hat. The other day said something very funny: Mom, I just have a question. If you pick your nose at night do you need to brush your teeth again? Today we reviewed our neglected chore charts. Orange marker in hand, Jack checked things off one-by-one. A few minutes later, I heard someone mowing, which is still a rare sound, after such a winter. For the longest time I thought it was our neighbor, then I poked my head outside to check on the boys. There was Jack, in his pajama pants, clip-on “pirate” earring, and flip-flops, mowing the grass for the first time this year. I didn’t even know if the mower would start. Elijah was right behind him, weed-whacking. They took the “yard work” part of their charts very seriously, and I think we’ll be keeping those chore charts handier.
Maybe it’s the way she likes two little strands of hair un-tucked from her ponytail, so she can smooth them behind her ears. Maybe it’s the way she wears stripes with polka-dots on most days. Maybe it’s the gaping hole in her smile where her tooth was knocked out last year. There’s something about Elsie that makes me chuckle whenever she walks into the room. She loves friends, changing outfits, and monkey-bars. If all three are included on any given day, it’s pretty much the best day ever. She loves to sleep with her stuffed bunny under her head, just so.
She also sleeps in a different position every night. She likes to do her own hair these days, and she likes to “babysit” Betty. She’s a terrific helper and does things almost always with a cheerful heart. Currently, she is wearing a purple shirt, red vest, shorts, striped socks up to her knees, and sparkly shoes. She sings hymns and songs and says the books of the Bible with lightening speed.
Maybe it’s the way she cocks her head and smiles. Maybe it’s the way she says, Bless you! whenever she sneezes. Maybe it’s the way her hair is still uneven from the perfect haircut she gave herself many months ago. Maybe it’s the way her brown eyes pull me in with their sweet chocolaty-ness. There’s something about Betty that makes me scoop her up and cover her in kisses whenever she walks into the room. She loves her dollies, taking care of people who are hurt, baby spoons, and the color yellow. To emphasize something of great importance she will say, “So bad”. For instance, I want to button my shirt so bad! I need a banana so bad! Sometimes she will say, Mom! I have a secret! Then she’ll whisper in a voice loud enough to hear all around, Please, I want a chocolate chip! I mean three chocolate chips! She still loves receipts as “taggies” to hold while she sucks her fingers. The other day she exclaimed: I found them all! Seriously! After finding a pile of receipts in her little purse. Seriously. Her vocabulary is hilarious. There aren’t always darling moments, but there are many funny ones. Like today, when I laid her down for her nap… for the fifth time. Without a word, I carried her back upstairs, put her in her bed, tucked her covers around her and walked out. She cried behind my retreating back: I’m not a baby! I’m not a baby! To which I chuckle. In fact, you are. You’re my baby. When she’s not a baby, she is doing her own schoolwork, and already knows how to make an H, B, and E. You’re still my baby, Betty.