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I'm Nadine. Thanks for stopping by. The floors are creaky, the kids are loud, but the door's always open and the coffee's always on.

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Four Years Old!

Four Years Old!

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Ursula,

You’re finally four!

I still find it hard to believe that in September you’ll be GOING TO SCHOOL. And once you start, darling, you don’t get to stop until….let’s not get into that. School is your new life. 

Anywho.

You’re four. 

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You’re smart.

Last week you wrote the word “mom” in a scrapbook without any prompting or assistance.

On our daily walks home from the park, you usually ask to do “Frozen math.”

ME: Elsa and Anna are having a picnic. Then Kristof and Sven show up. That’s two plus two. How many people are at the picnic now?

URSULA: Four!

You can’t wait to learn to read and write. You’re currently working on your lowercase d’s and b’s. They’re easy to mix up. Be patient. You’ll get it.

You’re funny.

Oh, the faces. The raised eyebrows. The hilarious quips. One day, you reassigned our names. You called me Daddy consistently, never missing a beat — and corrected me when I didn’t call you Gilbert. Also, you named a doll “Bucket.” And asked me if the freckle on my forehead was because “you were frustrated and hit a book on your head?” 

Last week you told me that your nose is your boogers’ home. 

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You’re stylish.

Kiddo, I might buy your clothes, but you make them your own. I hope you’re always your own person. Don’t let the cool kids influence your self-expression. Leggings under shorts — on a day when I said it was too cold out for shorts and you just had to find a loophole — is genius.

And it’s always the right time to wear sparkly slippers. (I’m very flattered that you insisted on sandals that match mine this summer.)

You’re sweet.

When you see that I’m upset, you’re quick to hug me and ask why. You LOVE candy, but never hesitate to share it with others. Every kid you meet at the park or the coffee shop earns the coveted title of “my best friend.”

When I was bummed that I got a hole in my favourite shirt, you cheerfully chimed in: “You get to wear another shirt!” And then you picked out something else for me to wear.

You’re clever. 

When your brother has a tantrum, you tell me, “I really love you” as if to solidify a favourite-child position.

When you pray, you’ll ask Jesus for whatever it is that you hope we’re going to do the next day even though we have no intentions of doing those things. 

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You’re sensitive.

You ask about death, about why kids are sad, and take it personally when young strangers don’t want to play with you. You cry when you realize you accidentally hurt someone. Saying sorry can be really emotional for you. 

The morning after I killed a bug in your room, you wondered aloud if maybe that bug just wanted to be your friend.

And when you lost a helium balloon at the market, you said you missed it and wanted to know if it was a girl balloon or a boy balloon.

You’re observant.

I pulled the wagon past a crowd of kids getting ready for the splash pad at the park. Must’ve been at least 50 of them. As we passed them, you cried out, “Mom! That kid is wearing Gibby’s swimsuit!” Sure enough, after playing Where’s Waldo for a couple minutes, I spotted a little boy in the same swim trunks that Gilbert owns.

You asked to wear your sandals to church instead of your sneakers because one of the teachers “has the same ones as me!”

You identify all the Volkswagen Jettas in our neighbourhood. You point out daffodils. You notice when ANYONE paints their toenails, owns the same wagon as us, or is wearing ANYTHING princess-branded, no matter how subtle the t-shirt or how far away they are.

You interrupted the dentist to tell her “Dancing in the Dark” was playing on the overhead speakers.

You always notice what everyone in your family is wearing. And shout, “We’re all wearing stripes together!” when we step out in our unintentional family uniform.

You’re musical.

You write your own little jingles and songs: “Gilbert, Gilbert / Come on, it’s Gilbert time.”

And at bedtime, you expect to have a dance party in the dark with Daddy and Gibby. 

When your Sunday School class was going to sing a song at church on Easter, you practiced the words and actions over and over so you wouldn’t get them wrong.

I’m going to start teaching you the piano soon.

You’re artistic.

You like to draw, paint, colour and USE THE SCISSORS and glue. You have a good eye, and you’ve mastered drawing happy faces and castles and park slides and baseball gloves.

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You’re athletic.

You did not get this from me, but, child, you have a very impressive kick, run, throw and catch. I’ve never been a huge fan of mornings at the park, but kicking a soccer ball around with you has been a game-changer. You’re a fun teammate/opponent. (No rules, just kicks.)

And you’ve mastered the sommersault-on-the-couch thing. But not the put-the-pillows-back-on-the-couch thing. Sigh.

You’re shy.

Just because you can belt out a tune when no one’s around DOES NOT MEAN that you will sing for your grandparents. I get it. Performing for family sucks. You rarely find your voice around strangers, or even your friends’ parents. Asking you to thank the barista who gave you a cookie is sometimes asking too much of you. We’ll keep working on that, babe. It’s okay to be shy. But a smile and some eye contact goes a long way. 

You want to put on a play for us, but you keep postponing opening night. Stage fright.

You’re a planner.

You want to know exactly what we’re going to do and when. One Monday evening at the dinner table, you planned out the next 24 hours with such precision that you included “wake up, have breakfast, put on Tuesday underwear….”

You’re a lot like me.

Girlfriend, we could probably spend a whole day book-shopping, fabric-shopping, croissant-shopping and getting our nails done. We’re both introverts, but I’m the one with cash so I’ll do most of the talking. When we’re tired, we wanna eat snacks — you get your sweet tooth from me — and watch TV. We both love Disney’s Cinderella. We both want to stay up late.

And we’re both very stubborn firstborns. 

You won your first fight with me a few weeks ago. You refused to wear your favourite dress to church. It was the only thing that was clean and I wasn’t having the wardrobe drama. “WEAR THE DRESS.” “NO!!!!!!” And then you told me that the boys at church wear jeans and t-shirts and you wanted to be able to run and play like them. Besides, I was wearing jeans. So why shouldn’t you?

And so you wore (dirty) jeans and a tee to church.

And I got lawyered by a 4-year-old.

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You’re your own person. 

You get really specific compliments about this. You do your own thing. Problem-solve your own way. In some ways, you seem older than four. You want to have life figured out. 

Every morning you ask, “Where are we going to go today?” 

You say you love pizza but you refuse to eat it. Unless there’s pineapple on it. (We should stick together, Sully. The world doesn’t always understand the pineapple people.)

You want to be a princess.

You love getting your hair cut. 

You love going to the dentist. You’re her favourite patient, so the feeling’s mutual. 

When you’re nervous about something that you really want to do, you ask me to stand nearby to “help me be brave.”

You still have a daily afternoon nap. THANK YOU.

You’re a daddy’s girl. Always have been. You have to yell hello at the office window whenever we return from the park. And then you ask if you can go upstairs and “say hi to Daddy just a little bit.” You miss him whenever he goes away for, like, 20 minutes.

When you’re done eating your dinner, you push your chair to the end of the table next to Gilbert’s highchair so you can hug each other while seated. Your love for each other is one of my greatest joys.

You fell off your scooter and skinned your knee. After a short bubbles break, you got right back on it. 

You never fail to finish chewing before talking, reach out and take my hand at an intersection, or put on your helmet before riding your bike. Once we master the art of (not) interrupting, you’ll be good to go.

You get upset when someone has something you don’t. Sometimes it’s Gilbert playing with a toy you discarded moments earlier. Sometimes it’s Daddy’s wedding ring. FOMO hits you hard daily. 

I found you hiding in a corner at church. You said you were in a cave. No one was looking for you, and you didn’t seem to mind. 

You love Jesus. You recently asked me if He could come out of your heart so He could play with you at the park. 

I could write about you forever. Every little thing about you deserves to be captured in word and photo and memory. You’re a special little lady, bursting with creativity, kindness, hilarity and smarts. 

I know our days are about to look a little different. But, baby girl, I will pick you up from that kindergarten classroom every day with the full expectation of a passionate rundown of the day’s events. And then you’ll ask me what we’re going to do after school and what we’re going to have for dinner and if your favourite nightgown is clean…. And I’ll tell you to “chill, baby, chill” and live in the moment. And you’ll make a funny face. And things will still be the same. Sort of. 

I love you, Ursula. More than you’ll ever know. Don’t grow up too fast, okay?

Giddy-up, I love you.

Mommy

Flashback: Ursula at 3. And 2.

Four!

Four!