This is for you my little Colleen. Just 5 of the hundreds of things I love about you...
1. Her name
Colleen = Girl
Bernadette = Brave as a bear
She is my girl who is as brave as a bear. I like that, especially as I look at her little whispy blonde head bouncing around the back yard in her big sisters' boots. St. Bernadette is one of my favorite saints as well. She was a simple peasant girl who was faithful enough to stand strong in the face of doubt and disbelief. She stood by her story, because she knew it was true - she was definitely a girl who was as brave as a bear.
Colleen smiles with her whole self. There is nothing false about her smile... her whole little chubby face transforms when she is happy and there's no faking a joy like that. I hope that her smile stays like that forever.
3. Colleen is very easy-going. To a point.
Colleen is wise for her years. She already knows to pick her battles. Being the youngest of 4, sometimes things just aren't worth getting upset over. 2nd and 3rd generation hand-me-downs... whatever. Riding in a carseat for hours almost every day while siblings are shuttled to and from their activities while you eat a ziplock of cheerios... that's life. Sharing just about all of your toys with everyone... nothing new there. Yet, her wise, discerning spirit knows when enough is enough. If you go too far, watch out. I think that by the time she leaves our home, this will somehow serve her well...
In a house dominated by women, my sweet son, Jonathan, gets picked on from the lower and upper branches of the family tree. Thankfully, their age difference is such that Colleen thinks the boy can do no wrong.
With Emelie bossing him around and Katherine pushing every button she can find, I find comfort in hearing Colleen call out to her big brother and beg him to play "people" (little people) or "go ou-side" to swing. There's no ulterior motive. There's no trick. There's no doubting or double-crossing. Just little kid love. And they both are pretty sure of it.
It may not last forever... but I sure hope it does.
5. She's shown us how to love... again.
It might sound strange unless you've experienced it... but Colleen is the first child we've had where our other children have been old enough to enjoy her fully. Katherine probably won't remember much about Colleen as a baby, but Emelie and Jonathan will.
They get it ~ how utterly delightful a little child can be. They laugh at her funny expressions. They run to tell me something cute she's done. They dress her up in weird clothes and then sit back and show her off. They fight over who gets to wake her up in the morning and who gets to unbuckle her car seat. They brag to their friends about her newest achievement. They teach her new words and read her their favorite books. They run to her when she's hurt and melt when she asks them to "hold you?" They let her go first, she scribbles and they tell her how pretty her picture is, they let her knock down their block towers and don't get angry, and they'll probably let her win at a board game or two someday.
She's taught them unconditional love. And I think they like it.
Thank you, Colleen, for being a part of our lives. We love you!
Here are some of my favorite photos of Colleen...