Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Summer You Were Seven

For my daughter, someday:

The summer you were seven years old, you were long and lean with sparkling hazel-green eyes and a light dusting of freckles across your nose. Your golden hair brushed lightly against your brown shoulders with every graceful move you made—and all your movements were graceful. You sang and danced and giggled. I couldn’t take my eyes off you.

You loved to cook, bake, make Jello and KoolAid—all in the same day if I would let you.

You learned a bit of basic knitting and crochet from your Auntie Karen and proudly made your grandma a bracelet of purple yarn. You wanted to learn to do more.

You wanted to learn everything, it seemed.

You learned to ride your bicycle with confidence. In fact, you had so much confidence and you had grown so rapidly that I realized with some sadness that you were more than ready for the next size up. I spent July scanning garage sales for a twenty-inch girls bike to replace your original sixteen inch purple BMX with the white knobby tires and the flowered seat and stickers.

You learned that hiking was an adventure, instead of a chore, pushing me to explore just over the next hill, just around the next bend, to see what we could see. You sang as you went along, “The girls went over the mountain, the girls went over the mountain, the girls went over the mountain, to see what they could see.” Your long legs never seemed to get tired and you stretched to make them match my pace, stride for stride.

You loved your roller skates and begged often to skate down the street and back, again and again.

You loved to catch grasshoppers and every container you found looked like a perfect grasshopper box to you.

You ran in the sprinkler with high-pitched shrieks and screams of delight.

You learned my favorite songs and sang with me, our voices blending together perfectly.

Your favorite spot to be was in your daddy’s arms, on his lap, or on his back. You were Daddy’s girl, but when he wasn’t around, you were willing to cuddle with me instead. We would tangle our bodies into a big pretzel, look into each other’s eyes and study each other’s face until we giggled. We looked so much alike that to look at you was like looking into a magical mirror. In you, I saw a glimpse of my own childhood and the hope of your future. What did you see when you looked at me so intently?

You loved the river and weren’t at all afraid to ride an inner tube through the gentle but fast sections of rapids. You enjoyed pushing yourself to walk with the dogs and me upstream in the knee-deep water, fighting the strong current to get out to the sandbar where we could look for pretty rocks. It seemed that you always loved to make your young muscles do more than they had done the day before.

You made me proud when we went into antique stores, strolling slowly and carefully with your hands clasped behind your back, oohing and aahing quietly at beautiful breakables, paintings and furniture. The nervous ladies at the counter relaxed as they saw how well-behaved you were, and smiled at us when we left, inviting us to come back anytime.

You begged to go to the public library and would have gladly gone daily if we’d had the time. I could leave you in the children’s section with confidence while I looked for my own books or worked on the computer, knowing that you would find some good books, sit down and read them quietly and need very little supervision in the process. If you were looking for something specific, you knew how to politely and intelligently ask the librarian to help you find it. It made me smile to see that you loved libraries as much as I did.

I could take you anywhere.

You loved ice cream and tried to remember to ask politely when you hoped we might stop for some—which was every time we were out of the house, it seemed. If I loved a flavor, you asked for a bite and you loved it too.

You longed for school to start—not because you missed your friends, but because you were anxious to get back to the organized process of learning, the discovery of new thoughts and ideas, the challenge of new information. You were already practicing your first attempts at cursive handwriting in anticipation.

You drew pictures of everything you’d ever done or seen or even imagined, and gave them to everyone you met. You went a little stir crazy in the car if there wasn’t a pad of paper and pencils available. I received several drawings from you each day and I wasn’t sure what to do with them all. Each one was wonderful, but I knew I couldn’t save them all—there were so many. I threw some away. Please forgive me.

You bookmarked Psalm 139 in your Bible and would read it often, aloud if anyone were available to listen, and with so much expression and wonder in your voice that it made me stop and reconsider the verses anew each time.

You also fought with your brother, forgot to feed your dogs, left your dirty clothes on the floor and cried for too long over the tiniest scrape on your knee, but that will all be forgotten. What will be remembered is how much joy you brought to me and to others, what a true delight you were, the summer you were seven.

I love you, Elli-Girl.


Anonymous said...

Lovely Mom, lovely child.

Anonymous said...

Your post has inspired me. I have a seven-year old too. I am going to write her a note tonight for her to read when she is an older girl, perhaps in need of a little care-free rememberance. Thank you so much for the inspiration.