To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 10 months old.
You stride in with a grumpy morning face, but are soon wallowing around on the bed with me, baby-turtling it. We have extreme cuddles. Dad liberates me to go for a run, which I do while he takes you in to play with the latest epic train track in your bedroom. “Wanna build an elephant train?” he proposes. You’re in.
You eat toast and dried mango for breakfast on the front porch, and he drives you to the Crowders’ for Spanish camp. It’s a who-knows? kind of day. I pick you up at 5:30, and you’re racing toy cars around the living room table with Riley while the girls lurk in the shrubery outside, pretending to be pet unicorns. Kalia tells me she just heard you speak a lot of Spanish, asking for milk and telling her the words for things. Ms. Patricia beats a hasty retreat, which I take to mean you all have been terrible to her.
You ask if you can watch some talking trains in the car, right now, and I consent. It’s pretty hard to pry you out of playtime, so I’ll agree to pretty much anything if you’ll motivate your own departure. I leave you buckled into the backseat, holding my phone and watching a video of a cartoon train singing Christmas carols in Hindi. Kid you not.
Once Annie is wrangled, you two manage to find more ridiculous cartoons on YouTube that get you all the way home and seated at the dinner table. The video ends before dinner is served, though, so I have time to show you today’s exciting new deck feature: the climbing net. You scamper right up it a time or two. Athlete.
You eat the fruit and cheese off your dinner plate, declining to touch the actual, real, delicious food, but whatever you’re three. We video-chat with Gobka and Gamma, who have coincidentally cooked the exact same roast chicken dish for dinner. (The one you won’t eat.) You are very excited for them to hear you say the word poopy. Again, three years old.
You devour a scoop of ice cream for dessert and whiz through your bedtime routine to allow for an episode of Octonauts. Then to the bedroom, where you do a lap or two with your train and then snuggle in for a Mercy Watson book. You get into bed without too much fuss, and I tell you a story about two marmots looking for a home in the mountains of Colorado, in honor of the Klingners. Goodnight, Pablo!
To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 5 years and 2 months old.
You sleep in a bit after our wild vacation weekend, and follow Paul quietly into our room at 7:15, accepting the wordless invitation to come snuggle in our bed for a bit. You’re quickly off and running, though, plowing through your now two-item morning list. Clothes and teeth—everything else seems optional for a 5-year-old who spends her days at a friend’s house. We breakfast on mini-pancakes and our quarter-bushel of Hill Country peaches.
You linger over breakfast and ask to bring lovies to “Spanish Camp,” stretching out the minutes before departure. Soon enough, though, you’re loaded up and headed for the Crowders’ with Dad. There, you blend right into the kid crowd, reunited with Eleanor after 22 hours of deprivation.
At “camp,” you play play play, and sing your favorite songs (we hear a lot of “La Arana eensy weensy” these days), and hunt for snail shells in the yard, some of which still have resident snails. Los caracoles, you tell me. At nap time—ha!—you also play. Apparently, you and Riley are the good kids, and Paul and Eleanor the troublemakers. Checks out.
I find you at 5, playing in the outdoor sink Doug built, which you and Eleanor have declared is a river. You tell me quite firmly that you are never leaving. Oh boy, one of those nights. Kalia helps us out by herding all of the kids outside, and I lure you into the car with a short from Thomas the Tank Engine. I have no shame anymore.
Once you’re in the car with the show on my phone, you enter a TV trance state, and I buckle you in and make the traffic-free, 7-minute drive home. Some things about our lives are just purely better now.
At home, you hop right out of the car and head in to inquire about dessert. Dad puts you off, and we manage to eat a peaceful dinner together before your helping of the summer berry pudding we made together yesterday as a new-recipe experiment. That you eat on the deck, and lick the plate.
We scrub face and hands and get in our pajamas in time for an episode of Octonauts (“Kwazi! Activate: Creature Report!”). Today we learn about long-armed squid and sperm whales. It’s time for bed. You head upstairs willingly, but struggle with brushing your teeth. “Mom! My tummy hurts when I hear the toothbrush, and when I smell the toothpaste, and when it’s near my mouth.” I brush your teeth for you. You want to play with the train set that’s sprawled across the room instead of reading books, and enter a battle of wills with your father. You lose but leave marks. Finally, you consent to being read to, and enjoy the story of the Country Mouse from a Richard Scary compilation circa 1980. It’s bedtime. I tell an inane story with frequent interruptions. But after I say goodnight, that’s the end. Not bad.