Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lauren is FIVE.

Lauren Lantrip, pre-K'er.

Dear Lauren,

Today you turn five years old. I often think of how you came into this world as I watch you moving through it now. Your birth story is a bit legendary. Looking back on it, I realize what it might have foretold about you. It was time for you to arrive, so you did so in dramatic fashion. You entered my heart with a burst. And there you remain, filling it up with a joy and an energy that is all your own.

brotherly affection

You started school this year. Last year, you went to school three half-days a week, but this year was the real deal: full days of elementary school with your brothers. I left you smiling and excited the first day. You made friends quickly, both inside and outside your classroom. When we walk into school, I am struck by how many people know you--teachers who are not yours, your brothers’ friends and friends’ parents. You’ll excitedly greet them all, including always hugging Tobin’s teacher when you see him. You love to hold the hand of a classmate who happens to be walking in at the same time as us.

She's ready! Happy & chatty as I left. Feeling grateful.

You are happy and brave. You are different from your brothers in that you don’t mind being the center of attention. You don’t demand attention so much as you command it. It’s impossible not to notice when you’re around. You laugh and talk and feel with abandon. People often ask me, “Is she always this happy?” I explain, “About 85% of the time, but if she’s not happy, she’s really not happy.”

My girl, pretty much.

School hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. I’ve had quite a few tearful school drop-offs for you this year. Sometimes you say you just don’t want me to go. Sometimes you say you’re feeling shy and don’t want to see your friends. Most of the time, I can chat with you a bit and remind you of something fun coming up that day, solicit a hug and a few kisses, and you’ll walk into class on your own. Every once in awhile, I’ve had to leave you crying with your very sweet teacher, who greets you calmly and warmly. She’ll report to me after these tough drop-offs that you calmed down quickly, often pairing off with a friend to look at a book. You think Mrs. Hawkins hung the moon. Just recently, when your brothers were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up, you chimed in, “When I grow up, I want to be a teacher like Mrs. Hawkins and help kids learn how to be peacekeepers.”

Enjoying her (early) birthday celebration at school. 💞🎉

I think what you’ve enjoyed most about school is making friends. But you’ve also really taken to writing letters. You write your name and a few other words you’ve memorized like, “Go. Stop. Hello.” You recently started writing your name and nickname on everything, extending your nickname to three syllables--Lalala--explaining that you want your nickname to have the same number of letters as your real name. You watched Evan write in his reading journal every night and insisted that you had to do homework too. I bought you your own notebook, and you’ll sometimes declare “I have to do my homework!” and spend some time writing and drawing.

Lauren's aforementioned "challenging math work." I love how she writes her name AND nickname. She even adds a syllable (Lalala) "because I want my nickname to have 6 letters like my regular name." 😍👍😂

One night recently, we went to eat at one of your favorite restaurants, Jason’s Deli. As soon as we arrived, you had to go to the restroom. When we walked in the door, I directed you to your right to find the bathroom. You pointed to the right and asked, “Is this my right?” I confirmed. Then you held up your left hand and asked, “And this is my left?” I said yes. I could tell that for the rest of the evening you were thinking about left and right, because you’d hold up one hand and then the other, quietly chatting to yourself about left and right. That night as we lay in your bed before you went to sleep, you asked about left and right again. I asked you what letter “left” starts with. You’re pretty good with your phonics and identified it as L. So I showed you how you could make an L with your left hand to remind which was which. Then you enthusiastically showed how your right index finger could make a “lower case L on the right!” I couldn’t help but laugh and squeeze you because you are so smart and funny, but what I forgot is that you sometimes get your feelings hurt when people laugh at something you say. You admonished me to stop laughing, and I hugged you and explained that I was laughing because what you said was very funny and very smart. I loved what you said. It was a good reminder for me that I should be respectful of your feelings, even when you are being hilarious.

Sweet Mother's Day breakfast in Lala's class. 💞

You are teaching me so much, sweet girl. I am learning patience and the importance of staying steady and calm when you feel a bit stormy. I often tuck you in at night, assuring you that you are “my best girl.” You almost always reply, “And you are my best Mommy!” You love to take what you call "special girls trips," with just the two of us. Sometimes it's just to run to the grocery store. Or this week, it was to church--the boys staying behind to rest and relax after an especially long Saturday at the ballpark. During the service, you drew a picture of a heart, and colored it in with your pencil. You whispered, “I am drawing this for HER. How do you spell her name?” You were pointing to our pastor, a woman who is around my age and is also a mommy. I helped you spell “Pastor Katie” and “from” and you signed your name. I hadn’t suggested you make something for Pastor Katie. It was an idea all your own. You proudly gave it to her after church as we exited the sanctuary. I think this little story characterizes you well: loving, enthusiastic, charming and bold.

Heading out for a fun day at the school carnival & ball park, Lala grabs this sword & explains, "I can protect you, Mom! No one can defeat the mighty Lauren!" Good to know.

When I reflect on what I am most grateful for in your life, it is that this year, you have boldly stepped out into your world: starting school, playing soccer, loving church and making friends. I'm thankful for the communities you're a part of and how each can teach you something about life and yourself. I love your curiosity and the depth of your feelings. Happy birthday, baby girl! May today and the coming year bring you as much joy and love as you give to each and every day.


Bunny ears & dino eggs! Fun field trip this morning.

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