If I had to tell you about Madeleine Sahalie in 500 words or less, I'd run out of words before I was half done. My 9-year-old daughter is named after Madeleine L'Engle, the late author of the Wrinkle In Time trilogy, The Two-Part Invention, A Severed Wasp, and many of my very favorite books spanning the genres: poetry, young adult and adult fiction, theology, journals and more.
Our Madeleine goes by "Maddy" with some of her friends, but at home she is usually her full, formal self. She is a serious girl, very introspective and caring, and so her streak of humor is delightful when it breaks through. Upon learning that she was on TV (where her full concentration was evident), she broke into full-on ironic disco moves, singing "I'm so famous/I'm a big star now/I'm so famous/It's a Maddy show."
Recently she independently made herself a chore chart with multiple chores for every day of the week, carefully planned out so that she would be as helpful as possible with the animals and hobby farm tasks. She proposed in writing a $2 a week payment for what amounted to hours and hours of work. We told her we agreed that she is ready for money management, and an allowance is in order. Several hours later, she came back with a verbal request for a raise: "so... would $2.50 be too much?"
She is dramatic and mature, beautiful and smart, talented and kind. She is a brave little horsewoman who broke both arms in a bad fall last September and is now literally and figuratively "back on the horse." She is a friend who cares deeply, and an analyst who dissects problems with great care. She is concerned with others' feelings, and is often the first to signal me that one of her sisters needs some encouragement or guidance but isn't herself able to articulate the need.
I am so grateful that God sent us Madeleine. I wrote a letter earlier this month, saying to her newborn self what I would have said in the first hours after she was born. That letter didn't begin to describe how much we've gained by parenting our oldest daughter, and neither does this post. I am keenly aware that our time with her at home is going more quickly than I'd ever imagined. And yet, she remains at the core the sweet and earnest baby girl.
There is no way to write about her sweetness without referencing Madeleine's opinions. She is, after all, very opinionated! Sometimes this is a source of great frustration for her, because small children's opinions are often dismissed. And she does NOT like being dismissed. We tell her that her strong ideas will serve her well when she expresses them carefully and with forethought.
Finally, I have to say something about the incident that spawned this post: her compassion in action, she spontaneously sat down last night to paint a freehand sign for a classmate whose birthday party was attended by no one. I am so proud of her.