I remember calling my sister several years ago when her oldest daughter, your cousin Caroline, was turning five. She said she had cried. I mean, sure, it was hard to believe Caroline was turning five, but tears? I thought they were maybe a little unnecessary. But I remember feeling a lot of emotion when Blythe turned five, and now being here with you, my second born, at age five? I think I’m more tearful than before. Because now I understand what I didn’t understand when I made that phone call to my sister all those years ago—five is a precipice. It is the first domino that falls and once they start falling I can’t grab ahold of them quickly enough to make them all stop. It’s an end of so much—your toddler years, your days home with me, simple days, few outside influences, etc. But I have to remember it is also a beginning of so many beautiful things—education and school friends, ball games, a growing mind and deeper conversations. So am I sad you’re turning five? No. My tears are not from sadness, they are from nostalgia—an ache that knows this beautiful little kid season with you is beginning to end. But they are also from excitement knowing you are about to step into so many big and wonderful things, and knowing our relationship will now change and grow and deepen.
This past year with you has maybe been my favorite, Becks. Don’t get me wrong, you were SO adorable and fun the first few years, but man you were difficult too. You were just so stubborn and defiant. But this year you really turned a corner and you’ve listened and obeyed so much better. You are helpful and inquisitive. You can find a quiet corner and occupy yourself for hours. You have developed an awesome sense of humor and have quite the fashion sense, too. You always make comments on what your dad and I are wearing, and even tell us if you think we need to change.
Your favorite friends right now are your sisters. You and Blythe especially can play from sun up to sun down with very little direction from me. And you and Nan have grown leaps and bounds since the beginning of the school year—when you choose to be you are very patient with her and have been a great teacher. You were honestly a HUGE help to me when it came time to potty train Nan, and you took your role quite seriously. You also took to Sloan immediately this year when he joined our family. You would sit and hold him for such a long time, and you were always willing to help feed him or entertain him if I needed to do something else. This transition to a family of six wouldn’t have been as easy without your help.
You are my feeler. You just intuit things differently than the other kids and you process things through your heart. When the other girls get hurt, you cry more than they do. Papa took you hunting a month ago and you were asking questions about if it was okay to shoot the girl deer because they were the ones that had babies. If I am ever not feeling well you come and check on me frequently. The end of my pregnancy with Sloan was very difficult and there were times I was stepping up or down or moving through the house and maybe had a grimace on my face and I would look up and you’d be watching me with concern across yours. A friend recently broke her arm and when I told you about it and showed you her picture, you didn’t ask what most people would ask [“How did it happen?”]—you asked, “Is that the arm she writes with?” You were concerned for her day to day functions. You notice when others are hurting, and right now it kind of paralyzes you in some ways, but I pray that as you get older that it will prompt you to help and move you to action in ways it won’t for others because they may not even notice what your heart seems to naturally see. I actually just read a description in my book [The Clockmaker's Daughter] the other night about a character, and it could have been written about you: "[She] had only to feel in order for those feelings to be known. [She] was dramatic, charming, fun, and funny. [She] was hard work; sunshine in human form; thunderous."
You and I got to do preschool together this year. Again, it just made the most sense to not drive somewhere, and it gave me one more year with you home. I was a little concerned about what this would look like, because you and I are a lot alike in a lot of ways. But I didn’t know you would mature this year in such fun ways, and it has been an absolute joy of mine to get to be your teacher. You loved to learn, and while it looked different than it did with Blythe, it was fun and interactive and you soaked it up. You are still pretty timid about new situations and lots of people, so I have been a little concerned about how your transition to Kindergarten would go in the fall. But now that we are in May I have no doubt that by August you’ll be so very ready and do wonderful. Actually, the night before you turned five you looked at me and asked, “So do I get to go to Kindergarten tomorrow?” You’re very excited and it thrills my heart to see how far you’ve come in your ability to try new things.
One of those new things for you is Tball. You knew that since you were turning five you would be able to play this year and you could not wait. You wanted [and received] and ball bag for your birthday, and the day of your first practice you woke me up at 7 asking me to help you put on your cleats. I’ve had the rare opportunity to get to be your coach this year too, and getting to watch you make new friends and try new things and practice skills and improve because you really want to has been incredibly fun. You’re still very small for your age, so some of the girls on our team are twice your size [and they will pick you up like you’re a toddler], but this doesn’t seem to intimidate you in the least bit. You can’t throw the ball very far yet, but you are getting faster and faster. I didn’t know if you’d actually play the first game though because when we pulled up to the field it was sprinkling and Blythe said, “Oh no! The lines are going to go away!” and your eyes got great big and you said, “There are LIONS here!?”
You have a tender little heart, Becks, and I feel like you’re pretty in tune with Spirit a lot of times because you’ll ask questions about God that I’ve never even thought about. The other day you asked me if I would make a sign for right above your bed that said, “Jesus, help to not have bad dreams and only have good dreams and I love you forever.” You make me laugh and you help me be creative and you’ve taught me boatloads about patience and consistency. You love to be outside [especially on nature days with papa], you’re our best eater, and you will do anything Blythe does. You have an uncanny sense of how and when to push someone’s buttons. You love to be barefoot, require the least amount of sleep of any of the kids, and would sit in someone’s lap and let them scratch you and hold you forever. You still love to bake and cook with me, you constantly sing songs [especially while going to the bathroom], and the first thing you want done every day is to put your hair in a ponytail.
You really study situations and people, and then a lot of times you’ll mimic their actions [once you even mimicked a woman sashaying her bikini-clad self at the pool one time!Ha!]. And while I love that you are curious, and that you notice things many others don’t, I pray you learn your own drumbeat too. What I mean by that is, I hope you don’t study others so closely that you forget that God made you uniquely—that He poured His gifts into you in ways He didn’t others, and because of that you get to reflect His image. Don’t forget that—stay curious, observe, reflect—but remember that the Only One who’s image you should be trying to imitate is that of Christ.
One of your favorite things to do is correct your sisters [or anyone really] when they are singing because you think you are the master of all lyrics. My favorite one recently was when I walked in and you were telling Nan, “No, Nan. It goes, ‘Father Abraham, and maybe sons…’” You just kind of like to come of with your own way of saying things in general. Like when you were playing outside and it started sprinkling so you ran inside and said, “It’s pittering out there!” Once you were trying to get Nan to come show me something and you were saying, “Nan, come on!” but she wouldn’t come. Finally you said, “Nan! I’m just gonna show you to mommy, I’m not gonna kill you or something!” And once your dad was getting you with his beard, kissing you all over, and when he stopped you threw your hands up to your cheeks and said, “Is my face on fire?!” You’re just so much fun to be around.
And as I always do, I will end this FIVE year old letter with this: Your dad and I hope you always understand the why behind our no-s. We hope you feel safe in the boundaries we set. We hope you feel freedom in the wide open places we leave for you. We hope you see God in our actions and words. We hope when you leave our little home for good and go out on your own that you'll look back on this simple little life we had together-- chaos and mistakes and messes and all-- and see that it was Grace that held us together; that you see that it was God's daily bread that provided it all.
Happy fifth birthday, Becks Lynae! There is nothing you can ever do that will ever make us stop loving you!