J is our middle child. In the middle of the girls. In between the boys. Two older siblings, two younger.
Ryan and I are both the oldest in our family and that being so we often sympathize with the plight of the firstborn. However, we have learned that the middle child in a larger family has its definite disadvantages. J has shown us that.
Most parents struggle with the child that is the most wilful. Not me. I was one of those and understand the will and appreciate it to an extent. J is not a strong willed child; I struggle with how to parent J. She has a lot of my looks, but is so not like me. As was recently stated to Ryan and I by a family member, "you guys needed J".
J is a free-spirit. She loves "tolka-dots", and I mean loves. J can put on a dance show without a hint of bashfulness. She can keep a beat and sing out a tune better than either of her older siblings. Her giggles are beyond contagious.
J knows what it means to dilly-dally and she is a pro at it! J and organization are not good friends. J does not have time for serious role playing. She prefers flitting around in dress-up clothes and getting dizzy from twirling her skirts.
When we take a walk she loves running through the breeze, laughing at herself while she tries to go backwards, and then taking our hands to be swung through the air.
Our little J does not like being rushed. She is in no hurry to grow up. This is where being a middle is so hard on her. She wants the assistance, cuddling, and freedom that her younger siblings have. However, she wants the independence and privileges her older siblings enjoy without the responsibility that comes with that. This is where I struggle daily at affirming her yet setting appropriate boundaries for her.
Ryan worries about her. I couldn't say it much better than this picture:
And oh, the funny spunk that one has. She makes quips that she doesn't even realize are funny. At our birthday party, I opened up some flip-flops that apparently T had insisted upon giving me, despite Ryan knowing they were not 'Heather' in the least. As I tried to hide my shock at the style, J says, very casually without hardly glancing up, "Mom you don't have to wear those if you don't want to." The room erupted in laughter.
But the two most precious things about J that I hope to encourage are her gentle sensitivity and her desire to understand the Bible. I have to remember on a daily basis to talk extra gently to her; her spirit is fragile and I don't want to crush it. And it astonishes me how she remembers Biblical matters! On Good Friday we read part of the Easter story and as I got to Jesus's last breath I asked the older three kids what happened when He died. J quickly and boldly said, "The curtain tore in the temple!" Not what I had expected, but what a joyfull surprise.
May God continue to impress His word upon her heart, teach us how to love her, and direct her paths where He wills!
Happy Birthday J!