“Beau is my favorite friend friend because he is so funny. I think I am as funny as Beau maybe” she tells me as we make dinner.
For several days prior to her fourth birthday she asked me repeatedly if her Uncle Jason was going to be at her party. “Yes baby, he is going to be there. Everyone is going to be there.” I reassured her. “Good,” she told me emphatically, “because he is the one who always laughs at me.”
When I was a little girl some twenty years ago I watched the world pass by hidden behind my hands, preferring to be mostly invisible. I did not make people laugh and if someone did happen to laugh at me it would likely send me straight to tears, which is probably why the word “sensitive” was commonly used in overheard descriptions of myself.
My daughter, though, she lives for laughter and it bubbles up in her until she can’t contain it, bouncing gleefully with the overflow of joy.
It is the very embodiment of what I prayed for, a home filled with children’s laughter and yet it baffled me on occasion because it was so unlike me. I have to confess that from the moment the ultrasound tech circled blurry bits on a monitor and declared “GIRL” I naively imagined that my daughter would be just like me, a miniature version of myself with the same interests and personality type and unruly hair.
She has great hair.
In the mornings before school she and I say a prayer together while we wait to go through car line. Typically it involves very deep, spiritual communion such as “Dear God, please help me with my coloring.” (I don’t know if you know this but when you are four years old staying inside the lines is a very big deal.) We usually give thanks for our friends and our teachers and work through the things we need help with for the day.
One morning this past fall she asked me to say a prayer about her and so I did, speaking aloud as I peeked at her with her head bent low and her hands folded primly.
“Dear God, thank you for Scarlette, because she is such a special girl to me and because I love that she is so funny and always makes me laugh” I said, and she lifted her face to mine.
I can’t even relay this story without tearing up, this one short span of time sitting in the car before school that moved suddenly from being just another insignificant morning to a moment of motherhood that permanently etched itself into my heart.
I spoke aloud about the various ways in which I treasure her but when I talked about the way she makes me laugh her face lit up, smile stretching wide from ear to ear and eyes aglow with a radiance that is wholly indescribable.
She is naturally exuberant, my Scarlette, with mischievous, sparkling eyes but right then her face beamed as though I had heaped upon her the highest possible form of praise.
I saw then how she sees herself, how important that part of her personality is to her, how much value she places on it and how I could speak love into her heart in highlighting how lovely God had created her in this regard.
My prayer has always been that my motherhood would respect her autonomy while guiding her towards good and loving her well enough to be confident in her worth in Christ.
She’s special in a million ways but this one singular facet has much meaning to her and I thanked God again quietly for giving me a glimpse into her spirit and access to ways that I could specifically speak love to her heart.
I scratched it out in a gratitude journal and dated the page as a sort of time capsule, because this simplicity will likely not always be the way to reach her but today, when she’s still little enough to tuck her hand into mind and stretch on tip toes to tell me a knock knock joke, today I am so grateful for such a sweet connection.
Because little hearts are so very big.
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