Daddy. Puppy. Peoples.

Everybody has the cutest kid in the world. I know that.

Still, I can't help but think Annie is the greatest of all critter creations.

Let me tell you about her.

She is smart. Too smart. She is only 21 months old and she can do lots of amazing things. (Side note: for non-parents who are whispering under your breath, "Why the heck do they keep count of the months? I will NEVER do that! Just give me a good, solid number one or number two," well, believe me, I used to be you. I swore up and down a tree I'd never be that lady that walks around talking about that baby with those ridiculously hard-to-keep-up-with monthly birthday numbers. But here I am. And today I tout that she is 21 months because of pride. I am about to tell you how smart she is. And in this case, I would hate to say she's any littler than 21 months or it would seem implausible. But I'd also hate to round up and say she's two, for fear that you might think she is a mid-two year old... which would understate her state-able brilliance. Most days though, I say she's 21 months because I swear she was just laying on my chest in a crumpled up, wrinkly ball purring like a cat. That she can count to six, flush the toilet with delightful pride, and say "No mama," when I give her too many kisses terrifies me. And delights me. But, sometimes, it just terrifies me. My little prune of a baby- my little squirrel- isn't a squirrel anymore. So I say 21 months. 21 months refuses to accept reality. At least on some days.)

The amazing things she does? She sits on the big-girl potty and immediately looks away at the shower curtain avoiding eye contact with me. She instinctively knows that no one is supposed to watch you pee. I love this about her. How brilliant! How smart! How wise!

If I am on the computer or lingering after a meal and she wants me to play with her, she tugs on my pants. "Mommy play. Mommy tent. Mommy uhhh." Uhhh is a favorite word of hers. But sometimes her attempts fail and I stay planted, indulging myself a bit longer. So she changes her approach. Very quietly and slyly she says, "Mommy teeth. Mommy. Mommy. Teeth." That means she wants to brush her teeth. And I desperately want to teach her good hygiene Sarah Cantrell- I promise I do. She knows I'm a sucker for the tooth brush. She knows how desperately I try to get her to stop sucking toothpaste of the bristles long enough to scrub her scraggly little teeth. She knows my weakness. I immediately get up, fix her toothbrush, and hand it to her with my "brushing your teeth is so exciting!" face. She promptly sets the toothbrush on the ground and looks at me matter-of-factly. "Mommy. PLAY."

How brilliant! How smart! How wise! How annoying!

She counts to six, knows the first five letters of the alphabet, has the vocabulary of a three year old, and can tell you every noise that every animal in the animal kingdom makes. Even the rhinoceros. She made that one up herself.

And this weekend, after sneaking in on dad drying off after his shower, she learned the difference between boys and girls.

She knows she's a girl.

She knows dad is a boy.

And she's smart enough to call some of the guys in the band "girls" just to get a laugh.

Ok, so she's smart. But more than that, she's lovely. She shares her dolls and shares her food. She laughs and smiles and gives everything kisses. Even the toilet after a successful flush. I'm going to have to talk to her about this. She guards her M&M's with fierce passion. She reads to her dolls and she covers them up with blankets and gives each one of them their own book. She's sensitive to other people in the room. At a show this weekend, she spotted a girl in the hallway who was sitting along a wall by herself crying. She wandered over there, got right next to her face, looked at her, smiled, and then walked back over to me. It's like she knew that a cute baby can make anyones tears dry up for a minute.

Over Christmas, her Mya (Ryan's mom) taught her how to pray. She wants to pray all the time. She indicates this by saying "Amen?" and scrunching her eyes closed. The urge hits often. Usually when we go to story time at the public library on Wednesday morning. She's got her buildings confused. But there she sits saying, "Amen!" "Amen?" "Amen!"  and scrunching her eyes shut while the other kids stare at her. At night, when we pray, I say something like, "We are thankful for..." and then spout out a list of things from the day, but one night last week, she beat me to it. She started blurting out words as soon as I said the word thankful.

"Eat!" "Daddy!" "Puppy!"  (for the record we do not have a puppy nor do we plan on having a puppy!).

And, "Peoples!"

And that made me smile. She's thankful for her peoples.  I love that. How she even knows that word... I have no idea. But she does. It's the last thing she says every night before falling asleep.  She's thankful for peoples.

Without being terribly cheesy- this is the only real thing that I hope for her in her life really- that she will love God and love people. (To do either well, she will have to love herself too.) I don't so much care about grades or sports teams or whether she gets a tattoo... as long as she's loving God and loving people, to me, she will have lived a meaningful life.

I was thinking today about how you properly honor someone you never knew. It's hard to honor somebody like Martin Luther King. I mean, we have highways and streets and theaters and a national holiday named after him. But for a normal, every day person, what do you really do to honor a man who did so much for people? As I sit here writing about my adorable little person- I have realized- this is how I honor a man who showed the world what it looks like to dream big on behalf of humanity.

We raise kids that love people. All people.

And in so doing we honor the men and women in history who have fearlessly fought and died for basic human rights.

Today I am grateful for a beautiful, sweet little person that challenges me everyday to love freely. A little girl who is grateful for her peoples. And for a man who showed us, both in word and deed, what it looks like to value those people.  All people.