Loving Lauren

Loving Lauren

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Loving Lauren

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 19:14

“This is my mother, and she’s divorced.” The tiny blonde six-year-old smiled up at my son. Before he could reply, his own six-year-old daughter jumped in to tell the girl’s mom, “This is my dad, and he’s divorced, too!” Three months later I became a step-grandmother to Lauren.

I had never seen her first tooth or watched her first offbalance baby steps. I had never heard her first words or seen her struggle to tie her shoes. What I did see was a spoiled only child. Both sets of her grandparents spent lots of money buying her many gifts, and she came to me suggesting I buy her this or that expensive toy. I declined to enter her competition. The name “Jesus” was alien to Lauren. She had never ever been to Sunday school. She was a stranger to my world.

While her features and hair color fit in with my granddaughters’, her personality didn’t. She was easily offended. Minor teasing sent her sobbing into her room. I had roughhoused with my little tomboys since babyhood. Lauren cried if I even tickled her. It was easy to compare her to my granddaughters, and she always lost in the comparison. Wimpy. Touchy. Too sensitive. How could I love a child so alien, one I didn’t even know?

The Lord whispered, “Rachel, Lauren needs your love.”

“How can I love her, Lord? Every sentence out of her mouth starts with ‘I want.’ I can’t even play with her. She cries over every little thing. I can’t get close enough to love her.”

“How can she learn about me if you don’t show her?”

“I don’t know! I’m trying, Lord. But all I do is make her cry!”

“You don’t want to love her.”

“Okay, you’re right. I don’t want to love her. I’m tired of tiptoeing around her feelings. But I am willing to see her with your eyes.”

The thought came unbidden. “She has to share her mother with two other little girls.”

He had me there. Lauren had not complained when she became the middle child after being the only child all her life. In fact, she was delighted to have ready-made playmates.

“She loves to help.”

I had to give God a nod on that one, too. Lauren loved to “cook” and set the table and even clean up. In fact, when dinner was over, my granddaughters vanished, while Lauren happily cleared the table and helped me rinse the dishes.

A few weeks later my son called. Could I possibly watch Lauren overnight? My granddaughters were with their mother and he had won a weekend stay in a hotel. He and his bride had never had a honeymoon.

Lauren arrived with her doll and pajamas. We spent the weekend playing dominoes, watching old Disney movies and eating popcorn. Lauren was enchanted. Spending time, not money, was a new and exciting concept. The weekend passed much too quickly. I began to see her in a new light. She was a loving child. As she became more comfortable with me, she blossomed, chattering about all kinds of subjects.

Lauren’s seventh birthday arrived a few months later. I blinked twice and she was ten.

The phone rang. “Hi, Grandma.”

“Hi, Lauren. What’s up?”

“Oh, nothing. I’m just kinda bored.”

“Where are your sisters?”

“With their mom.”

“Isn’t this your weekend with your dad?”

“Yeah, but he’s on a business trip.”

“Are you lonely?”

“Yeah. There’s no one to play with.” Lauren hadn’t been an only child for a long time.

“Do you want me to come get you?”

“Yes!”

We stopped off at Target on our way back to the house.

As we walked up and down the aisles of the housewares department, Lauren happily chirped, “My Grandmother Houston loves pretty china.” She pointed at the picture frame display. “My Grandmother Willy loves picture frames like those.”

Grinning down at her I asked, “And what does this grandmother love?” I hoped she’d say “Jesus,” but she didn’t.

Smiling shyly she answered in one word: “Me!”

Rachel R. Patrick

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