Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lauren is FOUR.

birthday girl birthdayin' on her birthday.

The youngest among us turned four on Tuesday. It's pretty hard to wrap my head and heart around my baby being so grown up that she's headed off to school with her brothers this fall. But she still likes to suck her thumb and prefers me to almost anyone else, so I take solace in just a little bit of baby still being there.

This is Lauren about 10 days ago at her early birthday party, hair wind-blown & sweaty, face silly, new unicorn (named Aretha!) in her lap. Today is her actual birthday, so here's to four years of THIS GIRL. Happy birthday, Lala! You are everything.

The other night we were on a walk after dinner. It was hot and Lauren was content to ride in the stroller, blowing bubbles. It was a peaceful sweet scene all around, when she screeched suddenly, "Mom, stop! Hold my bubbles! I need to go yell and scare those birds over there!" And after almost throwing the bubbles at me, she ran after those birds, giggling and yelling. That scene sums up a lot about my girl. She is happy and engaged and excited and headstrong. The big feelings that come with baby- and toddlerhood seem not to have diminished with her transition into girlhood. Her preschool teachers often remarked about how happy she was ALL THE TIME, and inquired whether she was that way at home. And I said yes mostly, except when she's not happy, she's really NOT.

Earlier, enjoying Ev's graduation w/a Hello Kitty face.

The flow of our family life is still channeled by Lauren's temperament and need for sleep. Incredibly, she still takes an afternoon nap most days. With the recent busyness of her brothers' baseball season, there were quite a few skipped naps. She handled it well for the most part but would get confused in the late afternoon and come up to me and ask, "Mom, when are you gonna make my lunch?" When I'd try to remind her that we'd already had lunch, sometimes she would disagree passionately and other times she'd just kinda look at me funny, stick her thumb in her mouth and wander off.

having a soak

Lauren's school year ended in May, a couple weeks before her brothers'. I can't overstate how much she loved school. Almost everyday, she skipped into class, saying a hearty hello to whoever she saw, whether teacher, friend or parent. She was happy on the rides home from school but sometimes a little more contemplative. When I would ask about what she made or who she played with, she might tell me something like, "I wanted to play with [one friend] but she didn't want me to be her kitty, and that made me sad. But then Ms. Jean told me there were LOTS of friends to play with, so I played with [another friend] and I was her kitty all day long!" She experiences such a range of emotions, and yes, she really likes to pretend she's a cat.

Lala lovin' it too.

Speaking of cats, she's the first of the kids to really ask for a pet. For a while, she was asking for "a little cute doggie with bows in her hair!" I said that I wasn't sure Daddy and I wanted a pet right now, but maybe she could get a pet when she was a grown up and could take care of it. She quipped, "But Mom, YOU'RE a grown up! YOU can take care of my doggie!"

Standing on the plate in her church shoes. But she crushed it.

Lauren kinda has it all figured out, and I am loving it. Her boldness can sometimes be stubbornness, but I feel like she's teaching me a lot about acknowledging her (and by extension, her brothers') feelings better. It's often better just to ride the tide of feelings with her than to try to redirect them. Today, she insisted she didn't want to go to sleep at naptime, but a napless yesterday plus a busy morning made me think otherwise. I offered to lie down with her, thinking I wouldn't mind midday snooze myself. I tried to close my eyes but she kept insisting that she was scared of the dark, even though it wasn't particularly dark. I didn't argue but reminded her that she was growing so big and she needed to eat and sleep to grow even bigger. She added, "And I need exercise!" I was afraid she was going to start doing jumping jacks on the bed--as she often needs to show you exactly what she's talking about--but instead, she said rather thoughtfully, "Mom, do you know what I like to do when I sleep? I like to hug something soft. You can go now, I'm just going to hug my unicorn Aretha and go to sleep now." And just like that, our battle of the wills was over . . . exactly when she wanted it to be.

Perfect Carolina spring morning: seventy degrees & breezy, plus STRAWBERRIES!

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