a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 1 year and 10 months old.

At 7:30, we are tapping our fingers, waiting for you to wake up. Annie had a fever yesterday, so I worry that you are both terribly ill. At nearly 8, I go on in. You’re awake but peaceful; Annie is asleep and will stay that way until 9:30. (She’s fine though, don’t worry.) Susu and I gather your clothes and a diaper and slip you out of the bedroom to get dressed.


IMG_3590 (1)

I set you down in front of your breakfast, and you start popping grapes off the stem and cramming them cheerfully into your mouth. We call Dad, who steps out of the Google Zurich office to say hello. He asks you simple questions, which you answer with your characteristic, “Shaah!!” and you make faces at each other while you eat your bagel. Scout relieves you of the second half, and Granddad brings you a replacement, which you accept with good grace. You and Dad say goodbye.

We load up in the car for school. You seem torn between missing Annie (“Annie-ah!”) and relishing the undivided attention. You point out all the trucks and busses triumphantly, and identify “don-ton” as we approach it. At school, you stash your dog in your cubby and march over to table for a big bowl of applesauce, which you shovel in the direction of your mouth with more gusto than precision.


We have no reason to believe it’s other than a normal day at school. Granddad picks you up at 4:30, and you whiz home through light traffic while you jabber at him in full-length sentences he cannot begin to understand.

At home, you join Annie in the tower for a half-banana snack, and play around the house. You pull on your rain boots and do a bit of toy-pushing in the front yard before the 100-degree heat drives you inside. I join you all at 6, and we set the table for a dinner of very tasty Chinese takeout you will eat none of.

Annie is in a fragile place, emotionally, and receiving a scoop of rice on her plate causes a meltdown. When I bring her into my lap, you decide you need to be there, too, bouncing in your chair and demanding, “Mommy-ah! MOMMY-AH!” I end up with you both in my lap, wailing in each ear.

We sort it out somehow, but you’re very quickly “all done!” with dinner, and sort through your backpack (“ma backpack!”) and Annie’s (“Annie backpack!”) while the rest of us finish.


We adjourn to the living room and zoom a truck back and forth between us while you squeal in delight. You bring me a selection of books to read, but veto most by the time you get to my lap. “Not dees book!” Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is the only one we get through.

You poop. I say, “Let’s go take care of this,” and you walk straight to the diaper corner and lie down on the ground for me. Thanks, Paul.

We head outside to express-trash that diaper, then stop to water the peach trees and the bushes. I hold you on my hip and we smell the falling water.

At 7:10 we head upstairs for a bath, and you and Annie turn it blue with bath dye, which you also taste test. Granddad gets you dry and diapered, and then you and Annie disintegrate in tandem. We have left your most special friend dog at school—not cool. I do our best to navigate us through our routine, but it’s clear you two are escalating your despair to compete for my attention, so I end up beating a hasty retreat as you both scream. Two minutes later, total silence.

Hasta la vista, babies.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 2 months old.

You wake up around 7 and are thrilled to find Granddad and Susu to greet you. Dad is on a work trip in Zurich for a whole week, so we have called in heavy reinforcements. You request that Granddad pick you up and change you out of your diaper, then dazzle him with your ability to put on your own undies.

After breakfast, we loiter in the front yard, and a flirtation with the wagon prompts a playground trip. You and Paul head first to the swings, where again my attentions are unwanted, and you demand pushes from ONLY GRANDDAD. We move onto the slides, where your sweaty legs squeeeeeeak your slow way down.

foot-drumming in the tunnel
foot-drumming in the tunnel

You pull a shift serving play-pizza out of the playhouse, ride the turtle, and do some very serious swinging in the big-kid swings. We roll on home after a good hour.

Passing through the neighbor’s sprinkler in the wagon reminds us of our own, so when we arrive in our backyard, we hook it up. You pull your usual nudist routine and have a ball running around. Thank goodness for spray-on sunscreen.


At 10:15 or so, Charly arrives, and your grown-up family bugs out for some quiet time. You continue your romp and eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. You help Charly settle Paul down in his crib for nap, then create a splendid tent palace for yourself on top of our bed. At 2:30, I see you again, cuddled up with your pillow and friends, tent flap open with a pile of books and toys outside it. You can unzip your tent now, so we must exercise persuasion to keep you nap-ready. Good practice for when you realize you can easily climb out of your crib.

We get dressed and make for Uncle Mike and Evie’s house. It’s a Hall family spectacular over there. You require your usual warm-up time but are soon upstairs with Miles and Lyla, playing with 20-year-old toys and having a ball. Knocking a full cup of water onto a coffee table full of books is the only hitch in the program.

Dinner at the kids table is followed by a round of firearms training. You pose for your NRA-member profile pic.

Annie's got a gun.
Annie’s got a gun.

We head home around six. I bug out to go see Bill Clinton on his book tour, and you coach Granddad and Susu through your bedtime routine. You take a bath with a good shampoo from Susu’s magic fingers, execute a successful potty break, and then dry off and pick out the dress you remember wearing when you fed the cows at Pig Roast. You read five books together and proceed through your light-switch routine, more or less. And that’s a wrap!


ma balls

Mom moment: While I change Paul’s diaper, he merrily bangs a couple of plastic balls together in his hands—he endures such episodes with more equanimity when he has a toy to play with. As I swab poop off his testicles, he calls out, “Oh, ma balls!”

Addendum: this morning, Annie asks me, “Does Paul want to come upstairs with me?” And I find myself responding, “No, it looks like he wants to play with his balls.”