Well, that went by in a blur!
Wasn’t it just days ago we brought our newborn home from the hospital, driving a cautious fifteen miles per hour? I swear I was just wondering when I’d ever get to sleep again. In those demanding Desitin ointment and diaper months after, I was convinced I’d spend the rest of my life covered in creamed spinach and pureed pears.
We thought we were going to go insane, her dad and I, once she learned to climb out of her crib. Entire evenings were spent doing nothing but listening to toddler screams as we took turns watching her bedroom door, picking up our squirming two-year-old and placing her back in her crib, only to have her escape over and over again. So exhausted and desperate, we did two things: 1) called a local hospital’s Baby Help Line begging for a solution to our baby’s all-night screaming, but got no help at all. 2) Out of desperation, we crammed a rubber spatula under our toddler’s sliding wooden bedroom door and thick carpeting, thinking that would keep her from running from her room. It didn’t work. She was too determined to escape. The kitchen utensil did buy us enough time to take two minute breaks, so we kept using it. But we were afraid she’d grow up with a fear and resentment of spatulas.
At three years old, she’d wear outfits for months at a time. Her raincoat she wore everyday until it rained, then she refused to ever wear it again. Her cowboy boots she wore with her dinosaur shirt and sailor shorts, and then her teacher called to say, “Lauren should be happy to hear, considering she wears her cowboy boots everyday, that Friday is Western dress-up day." Of course, that’s the day she stopped wearing cowboy boots.
She seemed to have no fear. When she was about eight, the weekend after that Thanksgiving, while stuck in the San Francisco airport, she took out her flute she had packed and joined a fellow flutist to entertain weary travelers.
She’d skateboard down steep hills, splash in the ocean waves on foggy December days and later sit herself in the middle front row at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice awards. She later called her dad and me to say, “Turn on the TV. You’ll see me.” We did, sitting right next to the host Ben Stiller, as she casually chomped on her gum.
Dressed in surf shorts, t-shirts and hi-top Converse, she's drop-in off steep ramps at skateboard parks and play on co-ed basketball or t-ball teams, usually the only girl. When she was twelve we bought her a basketball hoop for Christmas, only to have her decide she’d rather put on lip gloss, listen to music and style her hair.
Her earlier teen years convinced me her terrible-twos weren’t so terrible after all. But I’d rather savour the good memories, so I’ll just sum up those years with this look (See photo on right). I received this expression a lot.
But there were nice moments, too. She and I had nice talks while driving to and from school. We’d see movies together and spend days at the beach. Though thirteen through fifteen were the stormiest years, by sixteen she began working and making her own spending money. She saved up for a car, and then we saw her a lot less. No more nice talks on the way to school, no more driving over Topanga Canyon, music blasting, toward the ocean, just the two of us. Her car was her first big step to freedom.
Now, she’s just about to head off for school and live in a college beach town. She bought a coffee table and a gray with pink beach cruiser with skull decals, and has already paid her (thanks to her grandparents) deposit on her apartment. Her own apartment? Weird! I swear she was just telling me, “Mommy, I never wanna leave you.” And I said, “Sweetie, believe me, one day you’ll want to leave.” Funny, I didn’t think that day would come so soon.
In a few days, I’m taking her to buy things she’ll need for her apartment kitchen. One of those things will be a spatula. Thankfully, she has no fear of them... or much else.