24 June 2007

The Charis Post

My little girl. It seems just days ago we brought her home from the hospital, and now, she is a walking, talking, three year-old wonder. We just celebrated her birthday (another one? they just keep coming), and in her honor, I offer this yearly assessment of Things That I Love About Charis Ruth.

1. Her spirit. This was her first year for VBS, and she was just in the preschool program. VBS started on the 18th, and Charis turned 3 on the 16th, so that officially put her in the 3 year-olds class--just barely. As you can imagine, she was the very youngest in her class. Anyway. I was there helping with the 1st graders for the week, and every morning, all of the kids--from age 3 to fifth grade--started the morning in the sanctuary with songs and announcements. On the first day, I pointed her out to the leader of my little group. On every subsequent day, Charis was easily identified--she was always the one dancing in the aisle, trying to walk over to other sections to see friends, crawling on the floor, heading up the stairs to the platform...you get the idea. I suppose I could be embarrassed about it, but she has such life in her, and this was her first time in the sanctuary having to show any measure of decorum, so a little rambunctiousness is to be expected, and to her credit, she did improve over the course of the week. But still, even when she wasn't jumping on her leaders, you can just see that spark of spirit.

2. Her kindness. She has absolutely no qualms about inviting anybody to our house: "Would you like to come in my house?" And of course, that goes double for people she already knows and likes. Today, on the way back to the swing set, she passed her kiddie pool. "Can we play in that?" she asked. "Not tonight," I said. "But this week is supposed to be very hot, so I'm sure we'll get to play in the pool soon." She paused. "Is Gideon coming over to play?" "Well," I said, "not that I know of, but I suppose we could call and see if they want to come over to play." She nodded and did a little jump. "YES!!! Call them! Because I love Gideon! And I love Beth! And I love Tim! And I love Elise. I love ALL of the Elises. And ALL of the Tims. And ALL of the Gideons. And ALL of the Beths." Later, after we had chatted with our neighbors, Charis said, "Our neighbors will come inside with us?" She didn't understand why they would go into their own house, when they could come into the house with her. That is what she's all about. Even during VBS week, on the very first day, she showed this kindness. Her little friend Travis is also 3--3 turning 4, but 3 nonetheless--and was scheduled to be in her group. Well, when Travis arrived, he was in quite a state. Not quite ready to leave his sister and mom. Seeing him upset, Charis (I learned later) went over and grabbed his hand and said, "You can sit with me, Travis!"

3. She's actually a pretty good sharer. (For a 3 year-old.) In her Wednesday night church class, one of the last things they learned this spring was the concept of "Sharing and Caring." It was implied to them that sharing is one way to show people you love them. Well, Charis embraced this concept wholeheartedly. Very often, I will hear her exclaim, "I'm sharing and caring with Bubs!" Indeed, we hear about it every time she shares with Judah. She does occasionally turn it around in her favor, as when she takes some sort of food or toy from Judah's hands and announces that "Bubs shared and cared with me!" or when Abe has something she wants, and she says something like, "Daddy, you need to share and care." But still. She's pretty good.

4. Her helpfulness. Like tonight, when I left the cap on the tub of Balmex loose, and when I wasn't looking, Judah got into it and started to finger paint. She was kind enough to help me wipe things up. Or tonight, when she got a bit of ketchup on the carpet, she told me right away and cleaned it up all by herself. She's also a handy go-fer--particularly if I need her to bring me a toy or a dish or a diaper or anything. She is very accommodating.

5. Her maturity. She is growing so fast. She can now tell me when she's sad, or even explain to me why I made her mad (Usually, because I didn't 'share and care' as she would have liked) She's also developing reasoning skills, which is fun to watch. The other day, we were coming in from outside. There is a hill leading into our "way back" yard, where the swing set is, and it is marked by the two tracks that get driven over when trucks or trailers go in and out of the yard. Charis calls them "paths" and will often stand in front of them and deliberate over which path she should take. On this particular day, Muirne (the dog) was sleeping in the shade on one of the "paths," so when we approached, I asked Charis, "Which path should we take?" Without hesitation, she said, "Well, Muirne (though she says it "Nurna") is on that path, so we should take the other one!" I thought that was pretty good.

6. Her joy. It is infectious. She laughs like little bubbles breaking on the surface of a pond. She smiles rays of light. She dances like music. Her kisses are little butterflies that alight on your nose and brighten your week. Her joy is pure magic. I think she might be a tiny bit fairy.

7. Her independence. She does an amazing job at entertaining herself, whether with a video, books, toys, or art supplies. I really never have to worry about her "getting into" anything or being bored--she's always got something to do. Also, she is usually very bold and comfortable in leaving us, or when we leave her, whether it is with a babysitter or in her Sunday school class. It is nice not to have to worry about that. At one point, they stopped giving us pagers from the nursery because they knew they wouldn't need to page us for anything. She's easy. For her birthday, she was given Auntie Moriah's (whom Charis calls YaYa Grace) dollhouse and accessories, and she can honestly play for minutes on her own. But on the flip side...

8. She loves to play with others. Especially the game she calls "Hello," where she holds one character and you hold the other, and your characters say hello. "Hello! How are you today? Do you want to go to the store with me?" And when Gideon or Katie and Travis come over, it is all she wants to do to interact with them. On the other hand...

9. She loves to cuddle. We went through a phase where she was far too busy to cuddle. But now, very often, if you are sitting still, she will crawl up right beside you, just to be near. And when she goes to bed, she loves to nuzzle next to me, pressing her forehead against mine. "You sleep with me for two minutes?" she'll ask. And I'll try to say no, but it's useless. Because I know she'll look into my eyes, kiss me on the nose, and say, "'Love you, mama. Love you so much."

10. She is my Charis. She is such a gift. Even when she is a handful, even when I would just like her to sleep a little while longer so I can have another minute of peace before the chaos ensues, she is a gift. Even when she tells me I make her mad, she is a gift. Even when she uses her lemonade to "clean" the table and carpet, she is a gift. Even when she needs to be punished for her astonishing deliberate disobedience, she is a gift. Why? See reasons 1-9. Need I say more?

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