It is not until people meet Hannah in person that I feel they can truly appreciate the incredible bundle of passion and energy and busy-ness all rolled up into one dynamo package. She makes us laugh so hard, but I am not exaggerating when I say that my entire day with her is moving from one moment to the next -- clean-up and damage control -- non-stop!
I never experienced the likes of her with my previous three children. Like ... ever. I am not going overboard when I say she gets into more, in one day, then my previous three children did in their entire childhoods combined.
Take yesterday for example. Here is just a quick summary of the "Human Tornado" (i.e. Hannah.)
1. Figured out how to put her stool under our water dispenser and turn it on. But didn't know how to turn it off. Water ... everywhere.
2. While I was practicing my piano, I finished, turned around, and found that she was eating a banana that she somehow got off the counter and peeled herself. (She doesn't even like bananas much and before I knew it, she was handing it back to me.)
3. Got out cereal and a bowl and poured herself some, coming out into the living room eating the snack that I never even knew she got.
4. Climbed up on the washing machine to get different clothes out of our clothing shelf. Changed clothes at least five times, completely, herself.
5. Went into the bathroom and started washing her hands, all by herself.
These are just a few of the things she did. Couple that with moving from one thing to another in tornado style and my house is continually a mess and so is she! So many things about her are so different from the other kids. She puts on shoes all day long. And she never puts them on the wrong feet. Ever. (My other kids will still do this now and then.) It also appears she is dropping her nap. (My other kiddos all napped until at least 4 or 5. Abigail is is still napping.)
[Don't worry. I don't plan to stop putting her in her bed for at least two hours each day for my own sanity.]
I now have to put her into her bed in pajamas zipped up backwards every time she goes in because she completely strips herself down to her birthday suit anytime I don't. (Never experienced this with another child.)
[Side note: I bought four pairs of zippered pajamas online at Children's Place. How smart of me to buy one with feet. How do you put footed pajamas on backward? Duh! That won't work.]
Our friend Shane is in town. He was around us a lot in Turkey when we had young children, and he concurs. He has never seen anything like Hannah in our family!
She has never met a stranger. She goes to everyone. She rarely cries when she leaves me. She is outgoing and intense and a dynamo!
But in the midst of the Hannah storm that sometimes leaves me feeling like I am playing catch-up in a game that I will never catch up in, I will find myself dealing with a completely different monster -- almost a complete 180 from that which I deal with with Hannah.
One of those moments involves Abigail. Most of you know that since the day Abigail was born, she has been shy. She barely spoke until she was 2.5 (while Hannah is currently speaking in paragraphs!), and even when Hannah was born, JB had to leave me at the hospital with our new baby because we couldn't even get her to stay with grandparents.
This year we started a Homeschooling Co-op every Monday. Each of my kids takes three different classes with different parents teaching the class. This is a huge Co-op group -- over 200 families. It is run so well and is such a positive thing for me and our family. I was hopeful that this might go well because she had been going to Sunday School mostly.
But typical Abigail-style, each week with her did not feature improvement. In fact, it actually began feeling like her ability to be away from me was regressing. I am perfectly okay with the fact that she is on the shy side. (Reading this book helped me understand her so well.) But still. I really wanted to have a time that I could fellowship with other moms and have a little break and allow her to be with other kids and have a good time.
Each week I've tried a different strategy and each strategy worked a little but not very much. Today I tried telling her that I would be back every ten minutes. And that's what I did. Every ten minutes I returned, poked my head in or gave her a thumb's up through the window. Every ten minutes for all three hours. (I even snuck away during the P.E. class I teach to give her encouragement through the window.)
And it worked!!!! Her teachers were as excited as I was. (They've been so amazingly patient and understanding.) One of the teachers took these pictures of Abigail participating in her music class:
I literally am tearing up while writing this. She is so much fun and loves life so much, and when I see her at school or church closed up, I want so badly for her to fly!
And today she flew! I joined her class on the playground third period and she was actually playing with other kids -- communicating and talking to them and participating!
I am so happy for my little girl.
And so amazed at how different and how different the challenges are of parenting two sisters who are night and day!