Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy birthday, Abby!

Six is a really big deal.

I don't know what it is exactly, but something about turning six is just a little...different from all those other birthdays. It's closer to eight, and eight seems really big. And it's downhill to double digits now, which is really more than I care to think about for too long.

But six is what our big girl is now. And she's embracing it, like everything else, with everything she has.

She's developed a love for art and creating beautiful things lately, so her request for an art party came as no surprise, really. And since I can barely draw stick people, I enlisted the help of a dear old friend to help me pull off an awesome Canvas & Cupcakes Party in our garage. (It helps that my dear friend's daughter is near and dear to Abby's heart as well. And since it's been a few days since that week we spent with them at the beach, the girls were pretty excited to see each other again.)

At six, our little Abby is just as spunky as ever. She has her own way of doing things, and is determined to do it her way, even if when it's hard. She still handles failure very, very poorly. But to be honest, she faces failure pretty rarely, since she has a knack for being good at things and a tendency to keep at something until she succeeds, or finds a way to make it work anyway. She's thoughtful, and by that I mean she's always thinking, planning, wondering, imagining. She tends to have a method or a solution worked out in her head--be it a math problem or a game of imaginative play--long before she actually starts on a project, and she's still pretty stubborn when it comes to veering from her predetermined course of action. This, of course, means she and I butt heads pretty regularly in our student-teacher relationship. I'm learning to lead loosely, and she's learning to follow respectfully. I foresee these being lessons she and I relearn often as she grows.

She's embracing her role as big sister to this house full of children. She can dream up some pretty fantastic adventures, and enjoys having a built-in team of brothers ready to help her make them a reality. This gets them all in a fair amount of trouble some of the time. But most of the time, it means they can entertain themselves, and even find ways to include the littlest brother, for lengthy periods of time while they build elaborate towers and slay dragons and tend to wounds and sail the oceans to reach the rain forests to search for frogs in Abby's room. There is no limit to her imagination. At age six, her pretend play is still in high gear, and I love watching my big girl be a little girl for a little longer.

She's still ever the scholar, and growing more in her knowledge of the world around her every day. She reads anything and everything she can get her hands on, and has read through all of the books on the kids' shelves in our house at this point. She reads, and rereads, until she is an expert on every subject that fascinates her. She is still obsessed with space and astronomy, and can tell you more about lunar modules and other galaxies and the chemical make up of the planets in our solar system, because she has read the three different space encyclopedias we bought her cover to cover, and continues to reread them because we've run out of new material. The astronomy science curriculum we're using for first grade science is really just me reading through another astronomy book and her filling in the gaps with stuff she already knows. She's still determined to travel to space one day, and has thought it through so thoroughly that at this point, there's really no stopping her. If I thought letting her cross the street to take muffins to our neighbors was hard, the idea of her strapped to a rocket and shooting into space is terrifying. And yet, that is what she has envisioned for her future, so I guess I better start getting on board with the idea.

She's torn though, because as exciting as space may seem, there's a part of her that likes what I do. It's the part of her that wants to rock her not-so-little-anymore brother and sing him lullabies. It's the part that wants to read to her brothers and teach Caleb how to write his name. It's the part that wants to help Jacob put his laundry away because he can't reach the top drawer, but she can.

"But Mommy," she explained, a hint of sadness in her voice, "I just can't be a Mommy when I grow up."

"Sure you can, sweetie," I assured her. "You'll be a great Mommy one day."

"But you don't get any money for taking care of us," she explained. "And space shuttles are really expensive. If I'm a mommy, how will I ever buy my space shuttle?"

I told her we'd start saving now, and she could worry about it when the time comes.

But the most exciting part of being six, for her dad and I, is that she's becoming kinder, and her heart is softening. And she sees it too. We started noticing in April. I remember, because it was a dramatic shift in her attitude and affections, and others noticed it as well. Abby saw the change in herself, and mentioned it one night as I was tucking her in.

"I've been kind for a whole month," she told me, just as matter-of-factly as ever. I hadn't said anything to her about it, and was impressed that her timeline seemed to align with mine. Indeed, she had been gentler, more patient (with herself and others), more affectionate, and generally pleasant to be around.

These are heart matters, and I told her as much. And the condition of the heart is not something that gradually improves over time, or that matures into a state of general goodness. No, the heart is something that must be changed by the One who created it. And if the fruitful evidence we've seen in our daughter over these past few months is any indication, I am confident He is doing a saving work in this covenant child of His. And the thing about being six is that she has questions, and a mind that can understand the answers. She knows she is a sinner, without hope but for the saving work of Christ. She knows faith in Jesus is the only way to get to Heaven, and that His death on the cross paid the penalty for her sins. She knows all the right answers in her head, and we are hopeful that the Spirit is at work, rooting those truths ever more firmly in her heart.

I think six is going to be an exciting year for this little one. Happy birthday, sweet Abby!

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