The Not-So-Little One has a heart for nurturing. A gift, really. From lady bugs (see Oct 9 post) to visitors, she has a way of caring for and welcoming and communicating with others, often without words, in ways that others can't or won't. We call her our whisperer.
This bashful child of ours will often avoid conversation and never quite looks comfortable in a crowd, but she is most in her element when words are not required. Her third grade teacher called me on the phone one afternoon requesting an impromptu conference. I was certain that my daughter had misbehaved in some way - why else would the teacher call me at work? I assumed incorrectly. The teacher called to report that a new student had joined the class that day. This student was from Southeast Asia and did not speak English. The Not-So-Little One took this new little girl under her wing, showing her where things belonged and guiding her throughout the day. The teacher was reduced to tears by the end of the conference. A prouder moment never existed for a parent.
My sister and brother-in-law own a cattle ranch. Just like every other ranch in the world, the Whining Bull has an abundance of cats. Most of them are wild. Even my sister cannot get near most of the cats outside of feedin' time. But take a look out the window and you will spy the Not-So-Little One surrounded by cats. All of them. Winding around her feet and rubbing against her legs, purring and flopping over for a belly rub. She takes great pride in her ability to tame the wild kittens - those same little demons that hiss and spit at me if I get too close.
The cattle on the Whining Bull are registered longhorns. Although not necessarily aggressive, these animals are large. Their horns are large. They know how to use them and will when they feel threatened. On a trip to the ranch a few years ago, I noticed my brother-in-law gazing out toward the pasture. He motioned for me to join him, placing his fingers to his lips and whispering "shhh." I stifled a gasp as I caught a glimpse of the Not-So-Little One in the midst of the herd, moving silently among the cattle, stopping occasionally to gently pull a cactus thorn from a nose. Many of the beasts were lying down. I think my heart stopped, but it also melted.
Today the Not-So-Little One came home to a deceased furry friend. Dirk the hamster breathed his last breath sometime while she was at school. I found her sitting in her bedroom, silently stroking his little body and crying. She gently removed him from his cage and made burial plans with her daddy. Even in death she nurtures.
A gift. No words required.