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A Letter To Maddie

Dear Maddie:

The clock’s really starting to fly now, kiddo, and I’m
afraid we’ve got a big birthday here.

So you’re turning five. Wow. At this point, I can no longer
pretend that you’re anywhere near the babyhood stage.
You’ve passed babyhood, toddlerhood, even pre-schoolerhood,
and are firmly entrenched in kid land now. At five years old,
you’re moving to big-kid school in a few months and are truly
becoming your own person. Yikes.

Every night when I come in to snuggle with
you at bedtime, I open your door and breathe in that
“Maddie-ness” in the air. I take a big whiff of you,
and climb into your bed in the dark. It’s probably my
favorite time of day, as we lie there and snuggle and talk about
big stuff and little stuff and everything in between. Sometimes
you’re flat on your back, not touching me, legs flying in the
air as you talk as if having just your arms to gesture with simply
isn’t enough. You stare at the ceiling as your mind whirls
and wriggle with excitement sometimes. But then there’s
always that moment when you’re ready to wind down and move
towards sleep, and you roll on your side and snuggle tightly into
me like a puppy, and I have to admit, I wait for that moment with
bated breath. Will you still want to snuggle with me? Will you be
content to simply talk and hug, and not want that physical
closeness? At some point you’re going to chat for a while,
and then roll – the other way, away from me, onto your side
into dreamland on your own. I have to admit I’m not looking
forward to it. But for now, you curl into me like a doodle bug,
sometimes throwing a coltish leg over mine, and snuggle happily for
several moments. And life is good.

You’re still growing daily, it seems, and sometimes I wonder
if we’ll ever find a pants long enough for you that will last
longer than a month at a time. You’re tall and slender and
your light dusting of summer freckles across your nose makes you
downright adorable. You often want to wear your hair back in a
ponytail with a scarf tied around it, just like I do, and I rejoice
that we’re still close enough that you want to emulate me
rather than mock me. Sometimes you’ll ask me if we can dress
alike, and you’ll dig through your closet to find pants and a
top that are the same color and style as what I’m wearing
that day. Then you walk proudly next to me, and I get a glimpse of
my Super Star-ness in your eyes. And life is good.

You’re extremely excited about kindergarten starting in
August, and miss your preschool a lot since it finished. I’m
careful to keep my Mommy moping away from you about school so you
won’t start to worry, but the truth is, kiddo, that I’m
going to miss you terribly. Five days a week! From 8 a.m. to 3
p.m.! I’m not sure I can live that long without a Maddie fix,
so if you have to start asking me to eat lunch with you at school
LESS THAN ONCE A WEEK, I’ll try to be understanding.

Ballet is still big with you, though you’re always bored with
class by the time May rolls around and all you’re doing is
rehearsing your recital piece. You watch the big girls practice
with an eagle eye, and love catching a live performance whenever
possible. Angelina Ballerina’s one of your favorite
television shows, and I’ll catch you practicing the dance
steps after you watch an episode. You do have a love of theatre,
too, and I cannot bring you to my theatre studio without letting
you have some time on the stage. If I walk out of the room for five
minutes, I’ll come back in to find that you’ve
discovered the stash of hats and canes, appropriated them for you
and Cora, and have put together an elaborate number for me to see.
You’re always walking around singing, often making songs up
yourself. Sometimes they’re elaborate story songs, and
sometimes they’re simply songs that narrate your day –
they go something like this: “Maddie’s walking down the
stairs, walking down the stairs, walking down the stairs. She
looooooooves her breakfast, yes she does, she looooooooooooves her
breakfast, and that’s because . . .” You work to rhyme
as well, and I love it.

You have an understanding of Christ that humbles me, and I feel as
if you’re learning about God in spite of me and my feeble
efforts sometimes. You love your Big Picture Bible and beg for
story after story from it. The other day at breakfast we were
discussing something and you said, “I will heal many
wounded.” And I believe you.

Your most complicated relationship is with your sister Cora, and
that’s a constant work in progress, isn’t it? Sometimes
she seems to get on your every nerve, and there are occasions where
you cross the boundary from defensiveness into downright cruelty,
but most of the time you work hard at your relationship with her.
She certainly adores you, and on the days when you’re
magnanimous and shine your light on her she blossoms under your
gaze. Every once in a while you’ll chase her down to give her
a hug or kiss. I think you’re almost at your best, though,
when you’re in public: when you go into a new situation with
her, you’re instinctively protective and watch out for her.
At a large gathering of friends you’ve got one hand on her
shoulder, and you’re checking to make sure she’s got
her food or can get down from her seat. You help her get to Sunday
school or meet strangers on a playground. When unleashed, your
big-heartedness is endlessly beautiful.

We’re still working hard on your fear – fear of things
you can’t control, fear of the unknown. If you’ve made
up your mind, a team of mules can’t drag you where you
don’t want to go, but if I back off and stop pushing
you’ll step delicately through that door like a fawn on a
dewy meadow, leaving barely a footprint and ready to bolt, but
moving forward bravely nonetheless. You’re starting to
recognize your fear, though, and push yourself a bit more. You are
now jumping off the pool and swimming to the steps without any
floaties or anything, which is a complete 360 from two weeks ago.

For breakfast this morning, you requested a bagel and a schmear.
And then added, "The GOOD bagels!" We had them flown in from
H&H in New York, and you are properly ecstatic. And rather than
cake for dinner tonight, you asked for an ice cream bar. You love
your ice cream, my child.

What will come next? I can only see dimly into the future. School,
certainly. Ballet, probably, but who knows. You love ice skating,
are curious about taking guitar lessons, and preschool opened up
your inner crafter. Bigger shoes, smaller naps, longer hours away,
shorter snuggles. All these things are in your near future, I know.
My love will never change, though, so I hope you know that. And for
now, I’ve got our nightly snuggles to look forward to as I
open up that door and breathe the rarified Maddie air.

And life is good.

Love you kiddo,



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