Yesterday L marched into her classroom and immediately proclaimed that it was the last day she would be attending school as an eight-year-old.

Girl is not afraid of attention.

Yep, nine years ago today we became parents for the third time. And, as I say every year, L is the ultimate third child. She can size up a room quickly and know how to entertain everyone in it. She can sense when her sisters are fucking up, do the exact opposite thing, and make sure we are aware that her behavior is different. Example: M and C are both in messy bedroom stages. Actually that’s being kind. Their rooms are both total disasters. S and I have reached the point where we won’t even walk into them. Each weekend L will carefully and thoroughly clean her room, then cheerfully announce in front of the entire family, “I put all my clean clothes away and got my room cleaned up!”

She’s also a little but of a suck-up. We get stories all the time from parents who either substitute teach or serve as recess supervisors at St. P’s about L hanging out with them and volunteering to help them. I was in the pickup line early one day last week and saw her literally racing people to see who could pick up the most playground balls before they went back inside. Her current teacher is always her “favorite teacher ever,” and she makes sure they know it. Fortunately she manages to do this in a manner that is still charming and not Eddie Haskell-ish.

She has a wide range of interests. She reads constantly. She’s not as artsy as C, but when the mood strikes she’ll whip up all kinds of crafts. She’s always down for throwing, kicking, shooting, or hitting any kind of ball. Regular readers know about her prowess on the soccer field, kickball diamond, and basketball court. She’s one of those kids that can quickly and easily take to any sport, and play them with an equal desire to win and have fun. She has a drum set and electric guitar that she enjoys writing her own songs with. She and her sisters love to watch cooking shows then go into the kitchen, or outside, and do their own mock cooking competition shows. She enjoys coming up with impromptu plays for the entire family.

L has always been a leader amongst her friends. It’s weird how that both came naturally to her, and her friends always seem willing to follow her. I suppose that’s another side of being the third-born: she watched her sisters do things for years, so when she started preschool, she had everything down and became the guide for everyone else. It’s not just about her leading games at recess, being an excellent student, or being the best player on her teams. She’s been selected to represent her class and school at several events over the past year, including introducing the keynote speaker at an educational symposium and telling a room full of parents about her experiences at St. P’s.

We all need balance in life, and L is a bit of a surprise on the ways she balances out her personality. We finally got her onto the tube in the lake in the summer of 2016. This summer she again refused to go out, and preferred to stay at the dock and fish rather than even go for a ride on the boat. For all her adventurousness the kid is still in our bed at least one night a week because she can’t sleep or something woke her up and scared her. Fortunately we’ve at least got her to go to the basement if it’s a storm that wakes her up. Oh, she’s terrified of storms. If I mention that it might rain in the evening, she’ll immediately ask, “Is it going to storm?” I feel bad lying to her, but I want her to at least have a chance to sleep instead of stressing out about a little thunder. A few times this summer she actually slept through loud storms. The next morning I would tell her, “See, you can do it! No big deal!” The next time it thundered she’d either be in our bed or fleeing to the basement.

L’s ability to read the room has always meant she’s gotten in less trouble than her sisters. That’s changing just a little, though. She’s developed a little bit of an attitude over the past year. Sometimes she’ll snap at us, or argue when we correct her. I think that’s equal part stubbornness, which she gets from both parents, and simply growing up. I admit I look least forward to her hitting her teenage years because she’s always been the B girl who went out of her way to avoid conflict with us. We’ve been fighting with M and C for years; what comes next with them is just a natural progression. When we start fighting with L, it’s going to rock my world a little bit.

Hopefully she can put that off for awhile and we still have several more years of her goofy, good cheer.