My oldest daughter turns four today! Writing about her is the hardest because she is such a unique, mysterious, and indescribably precious person that it's impossible to capture her with my words. So this post will include a lot of quotes by her, because I really don't know how else to write this. I love her with all my heart and I can't believe I get to be her mom.
So here are some things I really love about my Pi-Pi:
I love how she has such an immersive imagination. I estimate that she lives in reality about 15% of the time; for the rest, she's in her own world. That said, she is a realist; she doesn't speak often about princesses and faraway lands, but blends reality into make-believe so seamlessly that I sometimes wonder if maybe she actually is speaking to someone on her walkie-talkie. Here is a conversation I overheard when she was pretending to talk to my mom: "Can I come to your house today? Okay, how about tomorrow? Aw man. Well I can come early. Hold on, let me put you on speakerphone. Okay, what were you saying? No, I'm not spinning around anymore. No, I don't need any help. Hey, I have to go pee-pee. Okay. Yeah. I could take care of that, but they're so expensive I can't buy them." See what I mean with the realistic make-believe? I love it so much.
I love how she expresses affection and appreciation. She doesn't hesitate to tell Stephen "You're such a good brudder" or give him a big hug and say "I missed you!" upon his return from a biking trip. Concerning Evey, she'll say things like "She's a great sister. I want to keep her for my whole life." Sometimes, in the evening, she'll say "That was a nice little day."
I love how she comes up with the best names for people. Her list of suggestions for Baby #4 includes Coconut, Lollipop, Sweet Darling, and Little Baby That I Can Carry, among many other things. Once she gave my friend Christina the nickname "Rainbow Paper" and called herself "Crown Heart Jewel." The name she chose for me? "Bread."
I kind of love how she hates cleaning. She will literally do anything but clean. This might be the way my DNA is most evident in her, unfortunately, but it's almost funny to see how much she is willing to miss out on at the cost of her aversion to hard work. I'm excited to see her grow in diligence and appreciation for hard work...I'm learning and growing right alongside her!
I love how serious she is. Once I asked her what she was painting and she said "This is a Maze of Darkness. It's the only design I know how to do." She seems to embody Edgar Allen Poe in much of her storytelling, and most of her character descriptions usually include a very sad twist. While I obviously want to encourage her to be happy, innocent, and bright, I think she could grow up to have an insightful understanding of the frailty of life and the depths of the world's brokenness that drives her to hope more deeply and truly than the rest of us.
I love how she is a reader and writer before she is even able to read and write. She can (and has) spent long chunks of time "reading" adult books (upside-down) or squiggling lines profusely in her "journal." She will pretend to read the Bible to me and, in the most convincing tone ever, say things like "Behold our God. He is mighty in mercy. He is good to all." Or she'll read from a history book and make up facts, stories, and timelines that sound quite possible. Yet again she makes me wonder, "Wait, is that actually in there? Is she really reading?"
I love how she has an incredibly crude sense of humor. She thinks toots and bummies are the funniest things in the world, and her belches are nothing less than terrifying in their volume and tone. One night I told her, "Good night, Piper. I hope I dream about you!" and she replied, "I hope I dream about armpits." I really love her weirdness in this way. I'd much prefer crude to prissy!
I love how motherly she is. The way she parents her babies shows me that maybe some of the things we're trying to tell her are actually getting through, that she understands the value of what we're saying and doing, and that she knows that we love her so dearly. She's actually more strict---and patient---with her baby dolls than I am with my children! It's very humbling and encouraging...and, well, it's a little odd that she refers to me as "Grandma" more often than "Mommy."
I love how Piper exudes self-confidence. She's a girly-girl by nature, but she doesn't feel the need to look pretty for the sake of pleasing others. She has a beautiful smile, but she prefers to make ridiculous faces for pictures, as you'll see below.
I love how she loves to receive affection. She's always been my snuggly baby, and aside from difficult moments she's still always up for being held. Sometimes I teasingly tell her, "We didn't snuggle enough today. Tomorrow that's all we will do. No eating, playing, or going to the bathroom. Just snuggles. All day." And she thinks that's a perfectly wonderful idea.
I love how fearless she is. We like to call her Piper the Brave; whether it's getting on stage or riding a rollercoaster, she is always surprising me with her "it's-not-a-big-deal" approach to things that her siblings and I would certainly consider a big deal.
I love how she loves the outdoors. If you could see my daughter spinning around in a forest or a canyon, arms splayed and eyes closed, you would know why I love visiting Georgia and other states so much. Nature awakens something beautiful in her.
I'm still obsessed with her hair. It's so gloriously long---detangling it is quite a process---and, though it's lost its redness, it's gold. When I discovered that her hair was no longer orange but gold, she was delighted and agreed.
One of my favorite things about this past year was seeing little specks of progress in Piper's life. She's learning self-control and the sweet freedom that comes with it. She's learning to push herself beyond what she thought she could do and challenge herself. She's learning to speak kindly and avoid drama. I'm so excited to watch her continue growing next year.
As always, I must mention that parenting is very difficult and I do it so imperfectly. I have shed tears over my sense of helplessness as I try to navigate the hearts of my children...or just because I'm tired and I want to go to bed! But I can't look at my kids and not see them as tremendous gifts that deserve great care and focus. I so dearly love my Piper for who she is, and I hope that my love---and ultimately God's love---will break through to her more and more every day. Ugh, why do I always write these when the kids are sleeping? Now I want to wake her up and snuggle her tight! :)
Read Year 3 here.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 26, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 6, 4, 3, and squishy-baby. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
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Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today