Being Fearfully and Wonderfully Made... Fostering Our Child’s Uniqueness

Saturday, June 21, 2014

By Maggie (Audrey’s Mom)

“I was born to write!” our daughter declared as we talked about why it was important for her to pay attention during her 2nd grade math lessons instead of writing in a journal. When our daughter, Audrey, was born eight years ago, we were overjoyed. Knowing we were having a girl was so exciting. I prayed and asked God to help me raise a strong, confident young woman for this world. And as she grew I would be reminded of this exchange I had with the Almighty and would sometimes cry through tears that He HAD made her strong and confident. It was what I wanted, right? But having a child like this doesn’t make parenting easy.

From a very early age we described Audrey as “complicated.” We knew there was something special about her and truly saw a potential for greatness within her. She was creative and funny, kind, thoughtful and worked hard. But we also saw the other side. She was spirited, opinionated, and challenging. I could see that Audrey was, “determined,” and liked doing things “her way.” I started to appreciate her uniqueness more and appreciated that she wanted to do things differently. Kids are all so different. We’ve worked hard to see the positive and without completely crushing her spirit, guiding her to be the best kid she can be.

When we returned home with our new baby girl, the hospital had given us a four-inch thick copy of The First Five Years by the American Academy of Pediatrics, light reading for new parents who have a lot of time on their hands! As I flipped through the pages I noticed the recommendation to keep children from screen viewing of any kind until they reach the age of three. From that moment on we decided that our kids wouldn’t watch TV, see movies, play on the computer, or use our Smart phones or ipads until they reached the age of three. It just seemed like a good idea for brain development.

I didn’t realize what an impact that counter-cultural decision would have on our family. We didn’t spend time viewing screens so, we had to fill our time with something else and that something else became books. Audrey LOVED to listen to us read books to her and from an early age could sit easily for an hour enjoying the stories and illustrations. What I didn’t realize was that this was time VERY well spent and would eventually be the catalyst for her own creative outlet.

Like most young children, Audrey enjoyed drawing and that turned into making books, which meant she wanted us to write her words for her. So we did and her grandparents did too. We sat, patiently writing the words for her and as her stories became more complex we turned to the computer for help. I’d type pages and pages of text that we could cut out and glue onto her illustrated pages. This quickly became a daily need for her. She’d awaken in the quiet hours of the morning wanting me to make her a book (stapled pages of copy paper) so that she could write.  Stories we read together and the fabulous illustrations within those books would cause her to expand her own ideas and the way she drew. This was her way of life. Waking ready to write. Writing during free-time, drawing, painting, playing, reading, and more writing.

Fostering this creative spirit came naturally for us and our friends and family. We loved this kid. Her grandpa started stapling books for her to have ready at her disposal. Friends bought an entire box of copy paper for her for her birthday so that she’d be able to make as many books as she wanted. Her Nana gave her fabric-covered notebooks and journals that were so special Audrey decided to write her first chapter book within those pages. We read to her, listened to her, purchased new books for her, checked out books at the library together and just let her do her thing. Great teachers at school who saw her potential helped her as a writer and gave her time at school to write.

What matters most is that we loved her and listened to her and encouraged her. She was fearfully and wonderfully made by God and we knew that. Every child is. We adults in their lives have been purposely placed there to help guide and shape these special little people into the best versions of themselves. It’s a privilege and joy and sometimes very hard. But the things in life that matter are always hard.