“Mom, can I have some napkins?” asked my oldest son, Tommy, who was about 5 at the time. Busy cleaning up our lunch dishes, I paused, eyed him suspiciously, took note of the stickiness on his face, then handed him a small stack of napkins. I quietly followed him through the living room, past the Christmas tree, and into the playroom, where I found him handing a few napkins to my 3-year-old daughter, Maddie, while wiping the stickiness off his own face. Maddie, tucked inside of the closet and clad only in a diaper, looked up at me with wide, innocent eyes, mouth and bare tummy covered in red sticky goo. I noted the torn candy cane wrappers strewn on the closet floor.
“Where did you get the candy canes?” I asked. “From the ’tristmas tree!’’ she gleefully responded. Stifling my laughter, I explained that next time, she should ask me for permission, rather than helping herself.
Well, not long after that, a second incident occurred. That spring is when I realized what an independent, determined, problem-solver I was raising. Upstairs folding laundry, I heard the sound of plastic scraping across the linoleum floor. My mommy antenna up, and I tiptoed downstairs to discover Maddie pushing a Playskool chair up to the counter where a highly desirable cup full of lollipops stood, big brother watching on with eager anticipation.
It continues to amaze but not surprise me that my soon-to-be 25-year-old is beautifully and simply a more refined version of her 3-year-old self, an independent, determined, problem-solver.
Editor’s Note: Maddie interned at FFL the summers of 2016, 2017, and 2018.