Kisses and raspberries to you, Girlfriend!

I knew I liked Natalie right away. For one, she was the most stylish kid in our preschool Sunday School class. And secondly, she blew raspberries at me every time I talked to her. I could tell right away that this girl was full of character and too cute for her own good.

I taught Natalie’s Sunday School class for almost three years. She loved playing in the pretend kitchen with her nursery-age friends and lit up at the sound of music and songs. Natalie shouts “Jesus!” to let us know when she wants to sing “Jesus Loves Me,” and knows all the motions for “This Little Light of Mine.”

In Sunday School Natalie is fiercely independent. My co-teacher Linda loves to let preschool-aged children use all the art supplies that older kids get to use. Natalie agrees with this point of view, and tells the other teachers “I do it!” when they try to help her handle the glue or tape. But while Natalie likes to be in charge, she also loves to be loved. She’s a reader, a snuggler, and a good friend to the younger kids in the class. She shares, helps, and cares for those around her. Natalie’s smile lights up the room and her bold personality can make anyone smile.

Natalie takes her love of princesses pretty seriously. True to a storybook princess’s character, Natalie insists on a lengthy courtship before falling in love with a new friend (at least, that’s how it happened with me). I’d like to think it was more than just the extra Goldfish I snuck her at snack time, but eventually Natalie’s raspberries towards me turned into hugs and giggles. I know she liked me all along, but this girl knows how to play hard-to-get. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every raspberry she blew at me and every secret smile she flashed me. Now there’s no doubting mine and Natalie’s friendship. She bounces up and down when she sees me and yells “DeDe!” which warms my heart and puts a huge smile on my face.

But there’s no doubt about it, Natalie loves her family. Especially her older brother Logan. All throughout our summertime Vacation Bible School, Natalie found her way through the crowds of over one hundred kids to stand, sing, and dance next to her brother during song time. Logan, of course, adores Natalie in return. This duo protects, trusts, and supports each other—and gets on each other’s nerves a bit too.

As for Natalie, she’s bold, stubborn, adorable, and full of joy. Her opinions are firm, her smile is warm, and her friendship is worth working for. I looked forward to every Sunday morning that I could spend with Natalie, and talking with her continues to make my day. She is a strong girl, and I can’t wait to see the person she becomes.

Kisses and raspberries to you, Girlfriend!


About the Author: DeDe Orthoff is a first grade teacher from Columbia, Maryland and is currently teaching in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She lives with her husband, Peter, and their two dogs. She has a passion for celebrating the unique qualities of children both in and out of her classroom.