Madeleine, 16

Sixteen things about Maddy in honor of her 16th birthday:

When she was little she didn't really speak until she could do whole sentences. Until then, Lauren did the talking for her or she mmmm'ed. (Example. I'd ask: "Maddy, do you want to sit here or over there?" She would mmmm back the answer: mmm  mmm  mmmm [three syllables=over there].)  She had everyone worried: the pediatrician, the early intervention folks, the speech therapist. And then the word dam burst and she regaled us non-stop. When she was good and ready.

Instead of "yes," when she was very young she said "aye" like a Scottish lass.

She had an important imaginary friend named Wendy.

When she was three, she was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz and Charlotte's Web.

She desperately wanted Sam's name to be Wilbur.

The day after Sam came home from the hospital, she brought me her binkies and diapers and said "I'm a big girl now. I don't need these." Just like that.

When she was about 7, she was obsessed with the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman. She wanted to have an Underground Railroad birthday party. With her encouragement (insistence) we visited the Harriet Tubman homestead as part of our family vacation.

When she was about 10, she was obsessed with World War II and the holocaust. Sometimes I had to do some explaining after playdates when the friend would excitedly tell her parent at pickup time, "We played Holocaust!"

She's a picky eater. Most of her daily intake rotates with a food cast of bananas, potatoes, toast, caesar salad, carrots, cucumbers, pasta, butter, bacon, oatmeal, and cereal. I rejoice when she admits a new food choice to her reportoire, especially if it is colorful. (For her birthday dinner this year, she requested salad, twice-baked potatoes, and rolls. And a lemon meringue pie.)

She has a tender heart and loves a good cry. Whether she's talking about her school reading assignment in  Romeo and Juliet or watching a movie with any emotional element, the tears flow. (I think she finds it cathartic, which I totally understand. Let's just say she comes by it honestly.)

She has a long fuse but you know for certain when she's reached the end of it.

She's very observant and will always be the first to notice a new haircut, a tear-blotched face, or the fact you've had several doctors appointments lately.

She knows what she wants and goes after it with gusto and good, hard, incremental effort.

She hides struggles, hurts, disappointments and insecurities with a deceptive cheerfulness.

She has high hopes and aims accordingly, even if those high hopes every once in a while lead to disappointment (see above).

She has a pied piper quality and has friends of all types and ages. She's just honestly delighted by connecting with people, especially kids. One of my friends recently mentioned that when her young daughters play make-believe they take turns with their favorite roles: one pretends to be a princess and the other pretends to be Maddy. :)

Here's to our Maddy girl and a great year ahead. We're so lucky to have her in our family.