Lola missed a serve and it flew by her Mii character, untouched.
"Ace!" I said, teasing.
She stuck her hand on her hip, turned and faced me while rolling her eyes.
"Mom, this isn't cards."
I have failed as a mother. Ha.
Then again, last night, we spent a half-our last night discussing women's suffrage. So maybe I haven't completely failed. Yet.
She turned 9 years old a couple of weeks ago. On Facebook, I said she's our "firecracker," and that's rather accurate. Everything she does is at full-speed. She lights up our lives with her drive, her passion, her hunger to understand everything in the whole world right now today.
When explaining or introducing Lola, I frequently say, "Lola is challenging," but I don't mean it in the sense of, she's challenging to deal with (though, trust me!, she can be) but I mean it in the sense of, she challenges the whys. She doesn't accept that "this is the way it has always been done." And, for that, I love her even more.
She's smart and competitive.
Sure, she's frequently referenced as my "mini me," but she's so much more than me. She's artistic and kind. Sweet by nature. She's driven and goal-oriented.
I will forever remember finding months the gymnastics report card that showed the still-missing checkmarks that she would need to move up to the next level. Every night for who knows how long she would use that piece of paper to mark her place in her latest book, focusing on the areas that she needed to improve in before she could move up.
And then, how quickly it was replaced by the congratulatory letter that came months later, inviting her to the "team."
She is always up for a new adventure, a new experience.
She brightens my days with stories and laughter. She is my go-to helper, my daytime partner, my friend.
But she will always be my baby.
She's at that age where she is pulling away, just a bit. More alone time in her bedroom, more time with her music and her journals, her friends, her hopes, her dreams.
But she always come back, for the occasional snuggle, for storytimes.
Because my imaginative kid has an all-too-real imagination that frequently blurs nightmares and reality.
It doesn't happen too often, but about once a month, she'll trudge into the living room, not awake, not asleep. Somewhere in the middle. She collapses in the couch next to me, dropping her head onto my lap as I lightly, so lightly, trace my fingertips along her shoulder blades.
We don't speak much. She won't remember it anyways. Tomorrow, she'll wrinkle her forehead when I talk about when she came out of bed. She won't recall any of it.
But I will.
I'll remember the warmth of her breath of my lap, the rise and fall of her chest with each breath, the baby-smoothness of her unblemished skin. I'll remember the lines from her swimsuit tan, fainter than my own; each knob along her spinal cord; the unpredictability of her thick hair, as it fell to wherever it wanted; the eventual sigh of relief as the tenseness in her body is released, as she finally finds peace.