In the mornings, she dresses herself and brushes her teeth, washes her face, fixes her hair with little matching barrettes, and makes her bed. I never tell her to.
She is my busy little helper. All day long, when I need something she is who I ask because she is so eager to do it. She runs.
When we read, she is attentive. If we learn a verse, she learns it fast. She practices. She never spills when she paints. She keeps her brush clean so the watercolors don't mix. She stays in the lines. She avoids too much sugar.
She knows the rules and follows them. She loves to please.
She has grown into the most obedient five year old any parent could hope for and honestly? That just makes me want to cry.
Occasionally, if our words come out too sharp or she realizes she has failed in some way she will suddenly freeze herself with head tilted back, trying to keep the tears from falling. She stays standing still, frozen, while I am falling apart inside, choking back tears, pulling her onto my lap and telling her it is all okay. It is so very, very, much okay.
We see ourselves.
Both firstborns with that firstborn sense of responsibility; rule-following, approval-seeking, perfectionism. Our guilt. Our chronic sense of failure.
Nature or nurture? I don't know.
We fear she got it double.
She's not perfect, of course, and on the days when she is sassy or stubborn, on those rare moments when she makes a mess or breaks the rules or just refuses to do something I find myself thinking Yes! and wanting to hug her, to tell her that she can break every. single. stinking. rule and that we will still love love love her. No matter what.
I give this one more grace. I hug her hard. I let little things and sometimes big things slide. I try to affirm her heart and spirit more than her performance, to say I love you often, to cheer her on, especially when she is imperfect.
I want to nurture that strong will of hers. I hope that she will break the rules sometimes. I want to give her such a solid sense of self, of grace and acceptance, of love and kindness that she will be guided by her heart, even when it leads her outside the lines. I am going to work hard to teach her that she has permission to say no . . . and other things.
I am going to keep trying to learn this, too.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Col.1:2