Having kids is weird. It’s like watching all your good and bad qualities played in front of you like a movie, only with very immature and self-centered characters. I’m convinced it’s one of the ways God’s redeeming the story of my own life.
I haven’t yet written much about my kids because 1.) this ain’t no mom blog (although I enjoy them!) and 2.) every time I think to, I keep coming back to just this one. It feels unfair–as if I’m jipping the others–but I’ve realized it’s not that I favor her, but because she’s most like me and that fact is hard to ignore.
Lauren is our middle child. In the lineup she’s between Rae, our first-born daughter, and Baby Boy Reece, who can no longer fairly be called “baby.” Lauren is fiery and feisty but lacking the red hair. Her body and mouth are in constant motion; could her energy be bottled I’d be writing from a house on the river. My mom sewed her a skirt recently and, when we asked her to stand still for the fitting so the hem could be pinned, she couldn’t do it. It wasn’t until that moment, as I asked her to balance her weight equally on both legs, let her arms hanging loosely, that I realized her absolute inability to be motionless. After trying for ten minutes, we gave up and eyeballed the hem.
Lauren is determined (stubborn?), a dreamer (in la-la land?), smart (a know-it-all?), and funny. Downright amusing. A sitter, who’s become a dear friend, coined the term “Laurenisms” for the offbeat things she says. Things that put a grin on your face and make you think, Where’d she get that!? If you ask her where it came from, her reply is always, “I thinked it in my brain.” Lauren is unaware she has a mind. Thoughts occur in her “brain” and go straight out the mouth. And out they pour like a mighty rushing river.
Mingled in with her words are questions. So many that, if she catches me toward the end of the day with ears that simply can’t take it anymore, I calmly pour a glass of wine and respond with a freshly-sharpened tongue, “I don’t know. Ask Daddy.” If her thoughts and questions run like water with no ebb to their flow, the expressions on her face indicate true north. If she’s mad, she looks it; otherwise, she’s happy and whistling. There’s no guessing as to how she feels. She lets the whole house know.
Speaking of the house, Lauren finds it impossible to obey the two main rules I have here: no running, no screaming. Everywhere she travels, she’s both running and screaming. I can take away treats, playdates, screens, you name it, it doesn’t do a lick of good. I’m coming to the conclusion she may not be willfully disobeying, as much as it relates to the aforementioned inability to be motionless. I guess she figures, if you can move, why not move rapidly? If you have vocal chords, why not squeal loudly?
A while back, a mom to one of Lauren’s friends, was trying to gather a team of girls to play basketball. Lauren was only five at the time and had never before picked up a basketball. I wasn’t going to press her about it and I didn’t expect her to sign up. Riding in the car I eyed her in the rearview mirror and said, “Some other girls are going to play basketball this spring. Would you like to play?” Her eyes shot left, as she looked out the window to consider her answer. “Do you win?” she asked. “Well, it’s possible to win, yes,” I replied. “But, with it being your first year, it’s just for fun.” “But do you win?” she pressed. “Yes,” I conceded. “Okay,” she said with finality, “I’ll do it.”
Today is Lauren’s birthday and I’m thanking God for her. I keep thinking back to an afternoon, seven years ago, when we welcomed into the world a baby girl who–little did I know at the time–would turn out to constantly remind me of myself.
As I teach her, I hear all the lessons I need reminding of: how to channel her fire, her will and her ways. Take them to the altar of a loving Father, allow Him to separate the wheat from the chaff, and call forth the beauty. It’s a painful process–both the parenting and the process of being made new. But new life requires death and parenting a Mini-Me is a how-to plan for putting the old self to death and a constant reminder of God’s grace which gives birth to life to the full.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…and…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:5-10
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