We celebrated Hannah’s eleventh birthday by going to the zoo yesterday. She rarely asks for things. I don’t know whether that’s because she doesn’t think about wanting anything or just doesn’t think about expressing that wish. But when she told me a month or so ago that she would like to go to the zoo sometime, I made a mental note to try to make that wish come true. Her birthday seemed like a good time to make it happen.
Since we were going the day before her actual birthday, things were not going to follow their usual birthday routine this year. In the first place, we were going on a birthday trip and choosing one birthday present at the zoo gift shop on Friday. Then Saturday we were going to a bookstore to select more presents before the usual family supper and cake. She handled the changes quite well. She even asked whether she could decorate this afternoon for the family supper, so of course I went to the store to get streamers! And when she got a phone call that some of our family were going to have to come over on Sunday instead of Saturday night, she said, “Okay” and that was that.
We’ve been reintroducing some Brain Gym exercises this past year, trying to help her organize her thoughts. At the beginning of the year, last April, she had a very hard time with the cross-hand-marching exercise. (Imagine marching in place, touching the opposite hand to the opposite knee as it comes up — right hand to left knee, left hand to right knee, etc.) That was a very hard exercise for Hannah and required a lot of concentration. Even then, she would usually lapse into same-hand-to-same-knee motion. Last week it suddenly dawned on me that she was talking to me about something at the same time she was doing the exercise and doing it correctly.
We’ve also been working on teaching her more life skills around the house so she can contribute to the family and enjoy a sense of worthwhile accomplishment. She’s learning to load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, and sweep the floor after a meal. She’s also starting to mop. We’re still working on the details, but it’s good to see her pitching in.
One area of pitching in, in which I had a blind spot, was lunch time. Hannah has always gone to sit at her place at the table and passively wait for a plate of food to be set in front of her. Well, one of her sisters raised the expectations one day when I was gone and walked her through deciding what she wanted to eat, getting it out of the refrigerator and onto the plate, and cleaning up after herself. Later this sister kindly mentioned to me that Hannah could do those things. Of course! How silly of me!
On the academics front, Hannah is progressing from short-A three-letter words to short-I three-letter words. She is starting to understand the concept of rhyming. She can add equations with sums up to five and loves to tell time with analog clocks. She’s improving with her ability to narrate and lately has narrated to me Boy of the Pyramids, A Cricket in Times Square, and God’s World and Johnny. We’re still working on her writing skills, but the birthday messages that she copied recently were legible!
This year I plan to continue working on
- referencing faces and regulating behavior based on that referencing;
- reinforcing the idea that people may have different perspectives — both visually and mentally;
- progress in life skills and academics.
But my main desire this year is that Hannah would grow spiritually. I want to be very careful not to push or coerce her in any way, but I feel the need to increase my prayers for her in this area. Lately I have been praying Ephesians 3:14-21, and I invite you to join me in kneeling before the Father, Who is a good Father and the perfect Parent, and asking that
- He would strengthen Hannah’s inner man by His Spirit;
- Christ would dwell in her heart by faith;
- Hannah would be rooted and grounded in love;
- Hannah would be able to comprehend the love of Christ.
We look to “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”