Life with Kirsten

Kirsten is named Kirsten Therese, for the Little Flower. We frequently call her Katie for “KT.” And I am reminded again and again, that the saint for which she was named had an extraordinary faith and a strong will and a mischievous spirit — it was a packaged deal. Kirsten’s prayers are simple. She folds her hands, she says, “Amen,” and she smiles an impish grin. So be it. Whatever your will, Lord, Kirsten accepts it and embraces it. Her “Amen” is hearty and enthusiastic.

Kirsten loves to say, “I do.” Whatever the task, whatever the challenge, she wants to do it. She is not afraid. She is not shy. She is not the slightest bit insecure. In fact, she insists on taking on the challenge; her “I do” is adamant. The whole world is out there for the taking, and she is determined to do it. Oh to be as confident as Kirsten!

Kirsten doesn’t walk. She runs, jumps and climbs through life. She easily scampers from the house, across the huge backyard to the swing set and up the ladder and down the slide, leaving the adults in her wake breathless. Life is an adventure and she is not going to sit still for a moment and let it pass her by.

Last week, we were all having lunch at the backyard picnic table. In a heartbeat, Kirsten disappeared. She had not gone far; she was next door in the neighbor’s yard, running naked through the sprinkler. Two days later, Mary Beth called, “Mom, Kirsten’s on the kitchen table. Oh, my goodness … Mom, she’s swinging from the light!” That’s Katie Chaos, swinging from the chandelier. It’s a great, big glorious adventure to be alive; let’s embrace it with our whole bodies!

About 100 times a day, I hear, “Up please.” That is Kirsten-speak for “Hold me; I need the comfort and shelter of your arms.” She knows instinctively that we all need human contact. We need to be held, hugged, patted on the back, comforted. Usually, “Up please” is followed by “I love you much.” Those are words that are easily said again and again by a 2-year-old, but don’t seem to fall so easily from the lips of middle-aged adults. When was the last time you gave someone a big hug and actually said, “I love you so much”?

Kirsten isn’t prone to tantrums. I think it’s because she speaks so well. We taught her very early to say, “Help, please!” whenever she is frustrated. Usually, her frustration is quickly relieved by the bigger people in her life, and she sweetly smiles, “Thank you.” We all have bigger people in our lives, people who can rescue us if only we’d ask for help. And we all have a loving Father who earnestly wants to hear our pleas for help. No need for tantrums; just ask for help.

This morning, as I was reaching for the oatmeal, an open container of brown sugar fell on me. “Oh boy!” I exclaimed to nobody but Kirsten. “Oh boy! I got joy! I do, I do!” she responded, launching into her favorite song. It’s raining sugar. What fun! What joy! Life is full of little joys if we only let ourselves look through the eyes of a toddler.

Shortly after the sugar shower, Kirsten and I went to the pool. “Pool hopping” with Kirsten is by far the most aerobic workout I’ve undertaken in two years. This child rushes headlong into the pool, utterly unafraid of anything. I must stay right behind her and follow her every move, every second. On this day, she was chasing her friend Hope, who is two years older. Kirsten would run until she couldn’t anymore and fall face first into the water. I’d pick her up, and she’d do it again. At one point, I looked up, breathless, and said to Hope’s mom, “That’s Katie: chasing Hope, getting knocked down, going under and still up and looking forward toward Hope again.”

She’s faithful and enthusiastic, confident and intrepid, loving and joyful, and always looking forward to hope. When I grow up, I want to be just like Kirsten.

Elizabeth Foss is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia. Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss can be purchased at

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage