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It is 4:30 Saturday afternoon. We are going birthday shopping for Lauren and Faith. We drive a half hour to the "local" Walmart. We have six bikes but none are sized right for Faith. Stuart has been running alongside her for the past few weeks because she can neither start nor stop by herself on the behemoth she has been riding. Stuart and most of the crew head for the bike department to find an eighteen inch bike.

Lauren and I stop at the jewelry department. It's a big day for her. She just turned ten and because she has consistently shown true beauty this year she will be getting her ears pierced. Before we can proceed, we must purchase the earrings. I reach in my wallet. We locate Stuart in the bike department. He reaches in his wallet. We have gotten the children into such high excitement we must complete this mission today. We return home.

It is 7:30 Saturday afternoon. Dinner and baths are out of the way. We are going birthday shopping for Lauren and Faith. Lauren chooses her earrings. Stuart shows his ID and signs a consent form. Charlie and Faith climb the shelves and pull necklaces down upon their heads. Stuart herds the three little ones to the bike department. Stuart and I remain with Lauren for the ear piercing. John cannot believe that Lauren is willingly subjecting herself to a torture worse than shots. He has to see to believe.

Lauren sits in the chair and squeezes my hand. Ebony, the girl doing the piercing, squeezes the trigger. The first earring is through but the back won't attach to the post. Ebony discovers, after a few minutes of fiddling with it, that it is defective. She comes up with another pair and the back easily snaps on to the post that is already in Lauren's ear. The second ear is pierced without any difficulty.

It is dark when we get home so Faith's yellow bike is parked in the garage until tomorrow.

9:20 Sunday morning. Lauren leaves for church with her hair pulled back. The little aquamarine earrings twinkle in her ears. (This is not her birthstone, she just thought they were pretty.) She seems to have aged 5 years over night...walked right out of childhood and into supermodeldom.

2:30 Sunday afternoon. A bike train leaves the garage. The four older kids on their own bikes...not a training wheel in the bunch. Faith's were removed five minutes ago. Charlie rides like a king on the back of Stuart's bike. My eyes savor his littleness for a minute. I don't want to hold the clock back though. I like the friendship, humor, and growing maturity that I see developing. I like watching my children unfold.


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