As we are driving home from gymnastics the other night Lauren is, as always, talking in an endless stream of chatter. She goes into great detail about…well, everything. I drift off, particularly when she starts describing, scene-for-scene, the latest episode of Jessie.

I drift back when she starts talking about school again.

“I had to sit with Nathan (I don’t actually remember his name) on the bus today. He’s OK, but sometimes he’s inappropriate,” she says.

“Uh…huh…”

She continues talking about school and this or that and says, “Sometimes I don’t want to do stuff or whatever because they make fun of you or say inappropriate things.”

“What do you mean by inappropriate?” I ask.

“You know, like they swear, or they say bad things about someone’s clothes or hair or laugh at them, you know? Like how my last name is a swear word if you take one letter off.”

“Oh…OK,” I say, relieved that our definitions of inappropriate are quite different.

“Yeah, and then one day I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t even like you people,’ so why do I care what you think?”

*smile*

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“So I just do what I want and who cares what they say,” she says. “That’s what you always tell us.”

“Yep. Just be yourself.”

At 11, she understands something that took me 30+ years to figure out:

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“And, I guess you’ve been listening, huh?”

“Well, sometimes I do listen, you know?” she says.

“Which is surprising because I can barely get a word in edge-wise,” I mutter to myself.

She doesn’t hear or acknowledge my observation. She just launches into a complete recounting of the drama (in her mind) that just unfolded at the gymnastics center.

And I realize that although I’ve always pegged Kelly as the deep thinker, quiet observer, and future storyteller (i.e. my mini me), Lauren’s got many of the same qualities, just in a more loquacious package.

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