Friday, June 3, 2011

Fruit of Our Children: Thoughtfulness

An online dictionary defines the concept of being thoughtful like this:

1. showing consideration for others; considerate.
2. characterized by or manifesting careful thought: a thoughtful essay.
3. occupied with or given to thought;  contemplative; meditative; reflective: in a thoughtful mood.

I love all of these definitions.  It is exactly how I would characterize the fruit of our child, J -- most of the time.  And that's what I want to write about today in this next installment in the series.

I'll begin by saying that though she is our fourth child, she is in many ways like a firstborn in personality because she was our only infant.  She received special attention because we experienced with her many of the firsts that we, as parents, could not experience with the other four kids.

Outsiders have accused us of favoring her.  I wouldn't say that she is favored, but only that her bond with us is stronger because she came so young (2-1/2 months old) and she does not struggle with some of the attachment issues the other children have.  Additionally, she is an extraordinary child who seems to carry joy around in her pockets.  It's hard not to adore her.

J is incredibly shy around new people though and she'd rather spend time with her daddy or me than almost anyone else, so from the exterior perhaps this is what people see.  But as my mother used to say (in so many words) is that she loved all of us differently, the same amount.  I completely agree with this sentiment!  I may have favorite moments or favorite days with specific children, but I do not have one child that is my favorite.  I love all of them differently, individually, but the same amount.  Now, I do tend to go through phases where I like some more than others, but I think that's pretty typical if a mother is being honest with herself.

Anyway, from a very young age, J has demonstrated an amazing insight into the world and the way people think or work.  She has a funny way of looking at things.  She is very wise for her years.

With that wisdom, though, she carries with her a vivid imagination and particular playfulness and other children (when they're not tired of her sometimes bossiness) gravitate to her.  She is just really fun to be around.  

Today, I watched J with her brother O and their younger cousin, out on our back patio for a while.  J was posing the two other kids with dollies and pretending to have a portrait session.  The other two children were happy to sit and face whichever way she positioned them.  J owns a kid-camera, but instead of using it, she was happy taking pretend "ch-chick" pictures with an air-camera in her hands.  She even sat down and posed with them for a couple for pretend pictures of the three of them together.  Finally, she was browsing through the pretend pictures on her air-camera and showing O and N the good ones she got and they played along, oohing and ahhing for each one. 

This is typical life for J.  She is rarely bored, because there is always something to do with her mind and her imagination.  She is so convincing, others are drawn in and just believe.

When she was about three, she really started loving fairies like Tinker Bell.  So once, I told her a silly story about how when she was a baby, I went to check on her at nap and she was flying around her room like a little fairy.  She loved the story, but of course, I made sure to tell her I was making it up.  But do you know she remembers this story and retells it again and again to eager listeners.  She embellishes it to make it more real.  Sometimes, she'll see me listening in and she'll wink at me or whisper, "I know it's pretend, Mama, but it's a fun story to tell people."

But off the topic of imagination and more to thoughtfulness, when I am not well or particularly sad, I can count on J to put a blanket around my shoulders, bring me a glass of water, a stuffed animal of hers, some tissues and then she'll rub my head or my arm and ask what else she can do for me.  She is sensitive to my moods and emotions.  Often she'll try to cheer me up with made-up stories or songs and usually, it works.

I'm often convinced that her love language is gifts.  Don't tell her if your birthday is coming because she's sure to gather up household supplies to wrap and gift.  She makes not one card, but twenty, to express her excitement for the celebration.  As a gift recipient, she is gracious and takes time to read the cards (or have them read to her) before unwrapping the present.  When she unwraps, she savors the minutes, makes plans for the ribbons and gives a thrilled response no matter what is inside the package.  Be it clothing or toys or books, she is happy and thankful to receive.

There are many things about our daughter, J, that I want to be when I grow up.  I want to be able to be thankful and excited even when a gift isn't exactly what I want.  I want to notice when people are sad and to know just how to help them feel better.  I want to make the most of each minute with the creativity of my own mind and imagination.  I want to stop taking everything in life so darn seriously all the time.  I want to be able to see the world with her eyes of wonder and curiosity.  I want to be able to make the connections about life that she can, even with her limited age and experience.  She is so soulful and intelligent and yet, imaginative and fun!  

Her thoughtful ways amaze me.  She is a model for me every day and I am so grateful to know someone not just like her, but who is her. 

On a lighter note...

One night last week, I went to tell J goodnight and she was playing with one of the baby dolls from my childhood and one of her Ken dolls and pretending they were a "couple."  She explained to me what she was doing and added, "I don't care if she's big and he's not.  It's fair this way."

I asked her, "Why?  What do you mean?"

She said, "Well, in real life, the man usually gets to be big while the woman has to be teeny."

I asked her if she wanted to be taller than her husband some day and after a moment of thought, she decided that wasn't so great.

"But it's fine, Mama," she said, "because these are just dolls, not real humans."


Click here to read the next post in this series.  

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