Last week you had your first gymnastics meet. You were so nervous about the idea of having a judge watching and scoring you that you were nearly in tears on the way there. Now, let me back track a bit and say that you are not, in fact, all that good at gymnastics. I know, it surprised me too. You've kind of been my little golden child for all five years of your life so far, effortlessly good at most things you try, eager to learn, smart and quick and bright and talented. You're also usually among the oldest in your groups and classes, which never hurts. So when you were recommended for the rec league at the county gymnastics program last fall I was thrilled but not particularly surprised. We took a break when your sister was born, but you couldn't wait to get back into gymnastics this fall and I was eager to see what new things you'd learn as part of a "team". You have worked hard and you do seem to really enjoy it, but the skills of gymnastics just do not come as naturally to you as they do for the other girls in your group (that Jordan kid is just ridiculous). So I was a little nervous for you as well, neither of us knowing quite what to expect at this meet.
Your group of four competed in four categories: bars, balance beam, vault, and floor. Of course, being 4-6 year olds, the skill sets were very simple, but it was still an impressive and intimidating line up. You were practically radiating energy out there on the floor, smiling and wiggling and hopping around, sending the older girls into fits of laughter with your antics. You tried so hard and accomplished things I had seen you shy away from even trying in class. You waved and gave thumbs up signs to me and your dad and siblings whenever you finished a section. I was amazed at how quickly you shed your nerves, and at how well you performed. You were so brave and so confident. And, sweet girl, you lost pretty much every category you competed in.
But here is the amazing thing, Laine. You didn't even know you lost. You stood up there on that 4th place podium like you had just won gold at the Olympics. You looked at your participation medal like it was the most majestic thing ever to hang from a neck. You were so proud of yourself. And I was so proud of you too. You faced your fears, you showed up, and you followed our two big rules: you had fun and tried your best.
I am writing all of this to say that, while you truly are a gifted student and artist and performer, it is your attitude and the light you bring to the lives of everyone around you that is really exceptional. We often joke that you could raise yourself, that you are the "easy child", and in some regards it is true. You are independent and sensitive and respectful of authority and sweet and a whole laundry list of things that make you "easy" to parent. But you are also such a remarkable little human being that I feel I must rise to the occasion as your mother and really foster the amazing curiosity and love of learning and compassion and talent that I see in you. I am lucky to have the hard job of raising such an easy child.
I can't believe you will be 5 tomorrow. There have been moments this week that I have looked at you and felt like I was seeing years flash by before me; I could see the teenager, the young woman, the adult that you will be one day. I am so excited to see what you become, but so eager to relish this time I have with you while you're still little. You are artistic and funny, generous and bright, an avid reader, an eager student and loyal friend, and an amazing big sister. You bring me and our whole family so much joy.
So basically what I am saying, Lainey-bug, is that I could not be more proud that you are my daughter.
Even if you are certainly no Olympic gymnast.
I love you!