Friday, June 16, 2017

Lauren is SIX.

Lauren Lantrip, finishing kindergarten.

Dear Lauren,

Today you turn six years old. Your light shines as brightly as ever. You read and write and narrate your life for anyone who will listen. You wear your heart on your sleeve. You are very affectionate--hugging almost anyone you know, whether a teacher, a coach, or a friend's mom. And sometimes I feel like you heap the lion's share of that affection on me. You insist you always want to be with me and never let us part ways without giving me a huge kiss. Every time.

Mother's Day breakfast w/my silly, sweet girl at school.

Last week you graduated kindergarten. Another mom, who, like me, was watching the youngest of her three kids graduate kindergarten, asked me how I was holding up. I said something like how it felt a little unreal and maybe it would hit me later. The truth was, I wasn't sad at all, but I didn't want to explain why--because it felt a little complicated. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I got to see this milestone. Each one is a gift. I will never lose that sense of how lucky I am to be here.


This spring, you began a new adventure: playing baseball. Your dad showed you once how to put your bat on the ground, so you could line up the right distance from the plate when you got in your batting stance. Every single time you batted, you went through this little ritual. Often you would get a hit and run with a flourish down to first base. (We had to remind you a few times that sliding into first base is not as good as running through the bag.) Fielding did not hold your attention like batting, but when you chose to, you could field a ball cleanly and throw it at the right teammate. You were proud to wear a baseball uniform--especially a hat!--like your brothers.


I think a lot about the bigness of your personality. You are an inspiration. You feel what you feel. You are who you are. You are smart, kind, brave, loud, and hilarious. There is nothing small or quiet about you. I hope your dad and I can always hold space for you and allow you to fill it with the fullness of yourself, while also encouraging your natural empathy and kindness. You have other teachers, too. Your brothers watch out for you and challenge you. You try to keep up with them, and they encourage you to try harder. Yesterday morning, you and Tobin had quite the spat about who deserved a certain spot on the couch. As I cleaned the kitchen, you each pleaded your case to me. I resisted intervening and quietly said I knew y'all could figure out a solution. Evan played his part by noting he was happy to sit wherever but thought Tobin technically had the right to the couch cushion in question because, as usual, T was up before anyone else. There were tears and some yelling, and I don't know how it happened exactly, as I was in and out of the room, but the next thing I knew you and Tobin were sitting together, longways on the same spot on the couch, so you could share the space. Tobin had his sketchbook, and you were asking questions about and admiring his drawing. It made my heart swell, because in that little moment I think y'all figured out how to speak up for yourselves and compromise. Proximity can be challenging, but y'all usually find your way back to this: we belong to each other.


None of us have it all figured out, but you seem to be onto something. You seek and create joy. Whether walking into school, running up to classmates you see every day and hugging them like you haven't seen them in years. Or marveling at worms we dig up in the garden. Or collecting "pet" ants in a Gatorade bottle cap with a friend, while y'all play in the dirt near the baseball bleachers. Or getting distracted from a dusk game of hide-and-seek with the neighbors to chase lightning bugs. While life is hard and not always happy, I think you're figuring out that there's something to appreciate and enjoy in each day and in the people you meet.


Thank you for being you. Today we will celebrate you, and I hope you will feel the power of our love. You have so much love to share and being alongside you as you do that is an awesome privilege.



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