Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This one is for Olive

This post is in honor of my 4 year old niece, Olive.

Olive is:
  • strong-willed. She is very opinionated and stubborn. I love this about her. Not saying that I think it serves her well all the time. It is a challenge and responsibility to raise a child with those qualities. While no one wants their child to be obstinate, I find that the world needs people who love God and are stubbornly committed to obeying Him. I think the serious challenge in raising kids like Olive is training them to love and be committed to following Jesus. If strong-willed children can surrender their wills to Christ then I think they become determined and committed followers of Christ. They aren't half-hearted, apathetic, or luke-warm.
  • I guess that brings me to another of Olive's qualities...she is intense. She seems to feel things very keenly. When she's happy...she is SO happy. And when she is mad everyone gets to experience that too. Again, this maybe doesn't serve her well all the time, but I LOVE that she seems to experience life so vividly and intensely. Earlier this summer before the 4th of July she saw some fireworks and she was telling me about it and how it was such a wonderful day because she saw fireworks. I love that seeing the fireworks made her day. I love that she hasn't yet allowed herself to become inhibited in her enjoyment of things in her life. She doesn't worry if they're cool, or economical...she sees something lovely or fun and just completely enjoys it. I think that is so beautiful.
  • Okay, the kid is a budding artist. At four years old she is way committed to drawing and filling her sketchbook and she is pretty good too. She has these crazy ideas for drawing costumes and making party decorations and I love love love love LOVE to see her creativity.
  • It surprises me how much we have in common. We both love dancing. We both love artsy/crafty things. And baking. She even asks me to play "Would You Like To Swing On a Star" when I babysit. She watches Disney movies with me. And we both love the Wiggles (don't judge). I guess this really reveals that inside I am still 4 years old.
  • It's really fun to see her personality and style develop. She doesn't watch TV. She is home with her parents for the most part. So I think that while we are in a lot of ways the product of our environment, she definitely has her own unique sense of style. She knows what she wants and likes and so far doesn't seem to be terribly phased about what others think.  I've always been self-conscious about what I liked and what I thought others thought about my likes, interests, style, etc. Honestly, I still care and worry too much. We've been in Target together walking past the home goods section and she will run up to a display and ooh and ahh over some decoration. The last one was some shiny, chrome looking elephant. I really think that if she was allowed to decorate a house it would probably look pretty cool. Light pink is her favorite color. She comes up with some very creative outfits when she dresses herself. She is very outgoing and has introduced me to people in public, which is a social skill I lacked at 4 years old. 
  • She is so smart. Watching her take in the world is fascinating. She asks questions sometimes that I really don't know how to answer. Partly because I don't know what a 4 year old is capable of really understanding. Life seems very interesting to her. It makes me realize how much I take for granted in the way I view ordinary things. Somehow it causes me to feel more curious about things and about learning. She takes in massive amounts of information that I am already familiar with...I should force myself to continue learning new and challenging things. The other day she asked me what a 'place' is. I know she has a basic idea of what a lot of things are, but I think right now she is starting to develop a more definite understanding of what things are.
  • She has a very sweet side. She isn't very cuddly, but she will give hugs and kisses at bedtime or if she hasn't seen me in a while. She greets me enthusiastically every morning and tells me she wants me to stay home when I have to go to work. She calls her brother "her handsome" or "my little boy." 
I remember the week that she was born. It was spring break. She and her parents stayed with us for a few days before moving into their new house. I remember holding her and thinking about her. We had been expecting her for so long. We all said we loved her. But who was she? It was like having a perfect stranger dropped into my life and she was ours and I found it very unsettling somehow. It was the first time I got to experience a baby in the family as an adult (we are 20 years apart). So in 4 years I've begun to get to know this girl. I think she is amazing. She is inspiring. She really experiences life. She is learning so much all the time. She is beautiful. She is very outgoing. I really want to be like her in a lot of ways. It is an honor to know that she loves me. It is such a privilege to be her aunt. She challenges me to be better. She is a gift.

I love you, Olive!

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