“At school today me and Eloise were pretending to die, and Winnie was helping us SO SO FAST, and then Eloise’s dad came and we DIED, and he pretended to be sad.” — Annie
at the dinner table
Paul: I’m a grown-up.
Bryan: You look like a kid.
Paul: No, I growed up.
Leslie: You growed up at school today?
Paul: Yes, I DID growed up.
Annie: Paul, you’re very very little.
Paul: No, I’m VERY VERY BIG. SEE? My legs are SO LONG.
A guest post by Granddad
L&B go to Florida while Susu and Granddad (or “Grandy”, as Paul now says half the time) spend the weekend when you, Paul, are about to turn two years, five months of age, on Saturday.
To properly set the stage, we begin with events on Friday. The first thing you did after school that afternoon was take us to your room to ‘show and tell’ about the new beds and wondrous clock. In an authoritative voice, Annie then quickly informed us that you both could watch Frozen as many times as you wanted on the weekend.
Saturday officially begins at 7:05 when you burst out of your room and implore us to see the green glowing clock. You had been awake, quietly talking, since 6:20. Your game plan is to divide and conquer immediately; so Annie begins work on her checklist, and you state that you want breakfast NOW, in your pajamas and with a dirty diaper. We negotiate at least the diaper change and head down to forage breakfast.
After finally reuniting you with Annie upstairs, both of you refuse to wear a stitch of clothing beyond your diaper and panties and flatly refuse the traditional Saturday walk. Perhaps half of the new checklists are accomplished. We improvise until lunch time with laundry, photos of cows and mermaids, and rolling tennis balls around. It’s leftover manicotti for lunch followed by a pre-nap walk with Sous to the swings at Little Stacy Park. You are outfitted in your new cowboy boots and the outrageously cute Gap vest, prompting several compliments from other park visitors. Annie decides to stay home with Susu. All goes well, and Granddad successfully manages a calm slow-down that leads to an hour and a half nap. Meanwhile sister Annie gets her first viewing of Frozen. You awaken with the most mellow and relaxed demeanor, loving the world and the grandparents that are in it. You ask about Mom and Dad.
A trip to Central Market highlights mid-afternoon. And no trip is complete without balloons and free cookies. Granddad quickly corrects the mistake of procuring balloons of two different colors. The balloon tied to Annie turns out to be the only way we can keep up with her as she darts about. You, on the other hand are unusually sedate as you ride in the cart. The large red holiday grapes turned out to be the reason for your calm attitude. Two pounds of grapes were reduced by half, one grape at a time, as you surreptitiously plucked them from the produce bag. When we arrived home, it looked as if a plague of locusts had attacked the defoliated stems.
After dinner, it’s relatively sane play time, and a shower. Ever hopeful Granddad attempts watching his beloved Cowboys in a playoff game; you are mildly interested but beg off after a few plays. The Cowboys lose. We are only 30 minutes late for story time and Where do Diggers Sleep at Night? You relentlessly request additional readings; but after three, Granddad firms up, and with a stiff upper lip, you call it a night. You request that Susu rub your tummy and hold your hand like Mom does. (Mom and Dad are in Florida, you and Annie tell us again.) Good night sweet prince. Can’t believe you are already 2 years, five months.
To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 9 months old.
You wake up in your converted crib/big-kid bed at about 10 till 7, but stay there under the power of your own discipline until your clock turns bright green at 7:05. Then you spring out of bed and head for the door with Paul. Dad and I hear the thunder of your feet and intercept you, both bubbling with delight at the magic of your clock.
We have introduced morning checklists in tandem with the big beds, to try and give you more responsibility for getting dressed and head off some of the delays around getting ready. You are not 100% sold on it, but the power of checking boxes has an undeniable allure, and it gets you through potty, tooth-brushing, and getting dressed in about 10 minutes, and before you leave the room. You dawdle a bit, and Paul finishes first, so Dad gets you through the last few steps while I take Paul downstairs.
Breakfast is a slab of pumpkin bread, some strawberries, and a piece of cheese. We eat together at the table. Dad cuts more strawberries on request, and I blow up the pink balloons Eleanor gifted you last weekend. We prepare the toast cups with vitamins of the requested color, and I lure you out to the car by agreeing to tell you the story of Elsa on the way to school.
I keep my promise and give you perhaps my 50th rendition. I carry you into school because you have poked yourself in the eye with your unicorn headband and enjoy the coddling. Paul is cheerful at drop-off; you put your arms around him and kiss his forehead to say goodbye. In your class, you show Ms. Jolene your headband, give me a hug and a push out the door, and I leave you to go wash your hands for breakfast.
It’s a normal day by all reports. You probably play with some of the newer friends I hear you talk about—Ramona, Eloise, maybe others with names from children’s literature. When I arrive to pick you up, you are in the Willows classroom where they have consolidated the kids your age whose dillettente parents have not shown up yet. You have hitched an Ariel costume up around your torso, your own skirt poofed around your chest, and are pretending to nurse a baby doll, immersed in your fantasy world. I leave you there for another few minutes at your request, and pick up Paul. Back together, we manage to coax you out of your costume and up the stairs. You grab a quick cracker snack for the car.
On the way home, you request—surprise—the Frozen soundtrack, and we pull into the driveway as the “Let It Go” radio cut plays. Unbuckled, you and Paul climb out of the car and head inside, where Dad has dinner waiting: manicotti from Central Market, and roasted broccoli. You eat pretty well, and we head upstairs to get ready for bed.
Getting your pajamas on has become a battle of wills some nights as you and Paul find your last pocket of energy for willful play. You have instigated a terrible game just this week where you run back and forth between your beds yelling “tippy top” and stone-cold ignoring us. I try to nip this in the bud by carrying Paul out of the room to get his pajamas on in isolation, while he yells, “I WANT TO PLAY TIPPY TOP!” We persist, and Dad gets you into pajamas at last. He reads to Paul while I answer your questions about why octopus and squid have their mouths on their butts. Finally, you cuddle up at my side while I read a second round of Where Do Diggers Sleep At Night. We start the lullaby, turn on the noise machine, and you nestle into bed happily.
You say something impossibly sweet to me along the lines of “I want to hug you forever because I love you,” so we count 10 hugs, I give Paul a snuggle, and then agree to tell you about one part of the Elsa story once you’re all tucked in and I’m standing at the door. (It’s all about creative incentives these days.) You want me to talk about why the wolves didn’t smell Elsa when she ran up to the top of the mountain, so I propose 5 minutes of various reasons from the doorway. Goodnight, my curious girl.
To concerned parties, an update: the big-kid beds are a huge success so far, and kids have remained in them like docile lambs until their reverse-alarm clock turns green at 7am. After confiding her fear that scary monsters would have easier access to her, Annie bounded out of bed the first morning and reported cheerfully, “Nothing ate me!”
Bryan and I spent a lot of time and care with the kids tonight, executing the bedtime routine with precision and hanging around to chat and cuddle, to make sure they were comfortable in their big-kid beds and—most importantly—not going to pop right out of them the moment we closed the door.
Looking up at it, Annie told me how much she liked the big yellow A that hangs over her bed, and I told her I remembered getting it.
“It was before you were born, but I knew we wanted to name you ‘Annie.'”
She cupped my face in her hands and confided, “I wanted to name you ‘Mom.’ … Who named you ‘Mom?'”
On January 1, 2019, Annie climbed out of her crib, walked over to Paul’s, and coached him through his own first exit. We intercepted them, giggling, on their way to the door.