Last words from Annie before nap: “What happens if a changing table has sharp teeth and eats people?”
To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 2 months old.
You are cheerful this morning, making faces through the bars of your crib as I approach. “Where’s Dad?” you wonder, as I lift you out, but he’s hot on my heels. We kickstart the documentation with some photos, and visit Annie in her crib. I carry you to the changing table to discover your diaper is dry again. You’ve shown little interest in trying the potty, but you’ve got the right instincts.
On the changing table, you stretch out your ever-longer body and shoo off your father. “No, MOM do it.” I offer you a longhorn pin for your shirt, which you decline. “No, it’s SHARP.” Now firmly in a “no” mood, you also decline pants. We discuss putting them on downstairs. “Carry me like a princess!” you request, and I do. You loll your head back and enjoy the ride. Dad and I swap again, and he gets you panted (under protest) and shod, and loaded up in the car.
You are jolly and talkative on the way to school. It’s Friday, so Dad is driving. You dig happily into your toast cup and ask Annie for an extra piece of hers, which she grants you. In the Pandas class, you have been talking about feelings and identifying your own as you enter each day by velcroing a picture of yourself on a chart. Perplexingly, you select “sad” this morning, but don’t seem deeply committed to the choice. It’s the easiest to reach.
At school you frolic in the pumpkin patch, play with cinnamon playdough, and poop. You nap your standard 2 hours. Your teachers note on your weekly report that you are “practicing using words and gentle hands with friends (smiley face).”
Dad brings you home through slow, ACL traffic. I have composed you a beautiful plate of tortellini, bacon, tomato slices, and a few greens leaves you can interpret as a garnish, dressed with our friends’ private stash of fancy olive oil. Shockingly, given toddlers’ typical response to meals their parents work hard to compose, you eat it.
Spirits remain high, but we give ourselves a break and watch 45 minutes of Coco, a new film adventure for us. It has you on the edge of your seat, and climbing into my arms at every sign of interpersonal conflict.
We begin a countdown clock (“10 more minutes! 5 more minutes!”) and at 7, head upstairs for a bath. You bustle right in and only howl a little when scrubbed. Clean, diapered, and teeth more-or-less brushed, you climb aboard for a full rendition of Fox in Socks, and then the routine begins: it’s dark outside, and it’s time to go to sleep. Annie turns off the lights, and then you turn them back on, and off again. Dad wrestles you into a shirt you first do want, then don’t, then do again, then DEFINITELY DO NOT, but it’s too late. You get pets and hand-holds, and tucked under your blanket that’s already too small. Goodnight, Paul.
At 10:30 or so, you wake up screaming, as you have now and then for the last week. I think you’re having bad dreams. Dad goes in to check on you, and you quiet right down and sink back into sleep.
To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 and a half.
I walk into your room at 7:30 and find you standing in your crib, smiling. You throw your leg over the side, threatening to learn that you actually can easily climb out of that thing. I intercept you before you obtain dangerous knowledge, and leave you curled on the floor, pretending to be Baby Annie. Dad curls up next to you, and you have a discussion that ends in a piggyback ride down the stairs.
You are a BIG fan of the overnight oatmeal I’ve made, a new breakfast experiment. When we finish, you request more for tomorrow, and watch me make it in the kitchen. I give you a few inches of foil to play with, and you wrap it around your baby bottle and tell me it’s a taco. We start to head outside, and you declare loudly that you do NOT want to put on your shoes. Then: “Actually, I DO want to put on my shoes.” It’s hard to keep up with you.
We frisk around a bit in one of our first cool mornings, then head to the car. On the way to school, you’re full of your usual questions about why everything in the world is the way it is. You spot the golden clouds and tell me you see a sunset.
You escort Paul and I to the Pandas class, bottle-taco in hand, and then we head down to the Owls. You stash your treasure in your cubby for Show and Share on Friday, and cling to me, as you have all week, when I say goodbye. We have a long and thorough hug. I leave you with Ms. Jolene, trying to psych you up for the next activity.
A few minutes before five, Paul and I stroll onto the playground and find you barefoot on a tire swing, with Ms. Noemi pushing. We fail to find your sandals, and you tell Ms. Stephanie all about it as Paul obtains some crackers on the way out. Halfway into the car, Ms. Noemi comes running, sandals in hand and full of apologies.
“Mom, can you please roll my windows down?” YEAH I can, cuz it’s gorgeous. You wave to a horde of nursing students in scrubs as they walk down the sidewalk. We discuss the air quality on the highway on our way home, and when it’s okay again to roll down the windows.
At home, you climb out of the backseat and ogle our across-the-street neighbor as he does yardwork. Dad smears bug repellent on you, and we load up into the wagon for a picnic dinner.
We find a nice spot on a hill overlooking the playground and unpack our meal. You don’t eat much, but ask questions about what’s happening on the tennis court until your understanding of the game matches my own. You slide and climb and rampage around the playground, visit the blanket for some grapes, and ask if I’ll push you on the swing. I do.
You desperately have to pee, and we make a brave excursion to the extremely off-putting bathrooms on site. You can’t quite muster the courage to enter, and clench up ever tighter. I resist the temptation to let you squat in the grass. We play some more and make it home dry. You decline help in the bathroom and do it all yourself.
We play a bit downstairs. I follow your directions and Paul’s through a game of pretend, cycling quickly between firefighter rescuing you, a doctor, and your mom while you’re a baby. I tuck you into your pretend bed on the couch and bring you your “bottle.”
7:00 rolls around, and it’s time to wash the Deet off you. You hop happily into the shower (“I want it cold.”) but throw a fit when Dad tries to wash your body. Eventually we get you clean.
You pretend to be a baby all through our bedtime ritual, which we all enjoy. Maneuvering your body through all the tasks is at least twice as easy as persuading you to do it yourself, and we’re brushing your teeth thoroughly for perhaps the first time in your life. Two thumbs up to the Baby-Annie game from all players.
We read some of Fox in Socks for our bedtime book, which really highlights the absurdity of all your why questions. (“Why is he sewing his nose?”) I carry you to the light switch, and you execute your duties. In bed, it’s socks, questions, a pet, and hand-hold, more questions, last-minute demands for your pet and hand-hold because “I didn’t feel them!!”, more questions, an I-love-you, and goodnight. Phew. Three-and-a-half.
I’m standing at their door, aiming to close it, 20 minutes past bedtime: “Okay Annie, you can ask me one question.”
“What happens if a bear eats people? With honey on them.”
Annie: “Usually when Dad is gone I think there are bears everywhere.”