Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lauren

Lauren tries on my glasses
Thank you to Hannah Joy Photography


Our son David and his wife Lennae have three girls in their family: Laila, Lilli and Lauren.  When people ask me what they're like, I sometimes say that they remind me of the girls in Despicable Me, the animated movie about an over-sized Eastern-European super- villain who has his heart melted by three orphans.  The girls, Margo, Edith and Agnes are sisters, but all have different personalities Margo, (like Laila) is the eldest is parental, protective and precocious; Edith (Lilli) seeks danger and adventure in her everyday life; and Agnes (Lauren), the youngest, is a shining example of all that is magical with childhood.

Agnes, Margo and Edith

There is something special about the baby of a family.  They are well-protected and learn confidence from family.  Lauren is trusting, hopeful, and filled with gigantic expectations of life.  Since she is the baby of the family, all of the love trickles down to her and she is consequently very loving herself.  The last time I visited them, Lauren and I had a game: passing a simple ball back and forth to one another without dropping it (we ended up getting very close to 200).  The simplicity of the game did not throw off Lauren, who was always thinking of how we could improve our record.  We must have tried this game six or seven times before I left.  I was so happy that she wanted to play with me – something I could actually do.

David and Lilli hold Lauren, only two days old.  
Lauren turns seven today.  

I still remember the day she was born – at home in a hot tub (my daughter in law had all her babies in the tub).  David and Lennae had two small girls already and I openly wondered about the addition of that third child.  Most young mothers can tell you that the third child is officially juggling .  I worried that the kids (David and Lennae) might be overwhelmed… with so much work.  There was little I could offer to help –we were living in South Africa.



We were living in Johannesburg when Lauren was born; she changed everything.  We had said goodbye to our family and moved halfway across the world.  I wasn’t sure how to process the birth of one of our granddaughters from such a distance.  Getting the pictures via email filled me with admiration, love and emptiness.  I wanted to be there to at least hold her, but it was near to impossible.

By the time we moved back Lauren was four years old and she barely knew us.  Grateful for her parents, who built toward us, we began the business of reconnecting.  Only one problem – we lived in Cali and the kids lived in Kansas.  We visited Kansas and spent good, purposeful time “giving the kids their rest” and selfishly kidnapping the girls to take them to fun places that we could remember later  as shared experiences.  Whenever we are together, Lauren wants to listen to my stories – she tells me some of her own.  She loves play of any kind and always invites me to be part of her world – a sparkling, glittery wonderland. 
One of Lauren's selfies, taken in January

Last visit she asked me if I wanted to tape her as she did “her funny dance”.  Of course I agreed and got my camera ready – she danced, like a whirling wind sock arms flailing toward the sky,  knees bouncing toward her chin.  I watched it, just today and remembered her beautiful, young  joy. 

There is a line from Dispicable Me, where Gru is putting the girls to bed and Agnes says something adorable.  He looks at her, sadly and says “Never grow up, Agnes.”  It is a temptation of a parent to not want the baby of the family to grow up.  It is even a greater temptation for the grandparent – to wish that the treasured child would stay golden forever.  As with letting go such futile wishes, I have learned how to be a long-distance Abuela.  So much of the experience is built on prayer – and I pray constantly for my grandchildren.


Happy Birthday, Lauren.  As you do grow up, may you take all of this family love with you and bless the world as you have blessed our lives.  You are the sparkles in the air, young lady.  

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