a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 16 months old.


I hear from you at 6:45, a plaintive keen, but I’m still working on breakfast so let you sit. You seize the opportunity for another sleep cycle, and when I come in at 7:15 to retrieve a singing Annie, you sleep through the whole production. I pick you up at 7:30 when she’s already tucking into breakfast. We discuss your new socks for the day—frogs, ribbit—and get you into some pants for the cold weather.


You eat all your grapes and covet Annie’s, reaching toward her and squawking angrily. You are perfectly capable of signing “more” and “please,” but I have no luck prompting you, so I wash another handful of grapes and engage in what feels exactly like a dog-training exercise. “Please,” I help you sign, and then hand you a grape. You eat it and grin. “Please,” we sign again, and you get another one. It does the trick.

You have a small meltdown when I can’t fit your sweater over your head—you want it, badly, but either it’s shrunk in the wash or your 95th-percentile head has grown even larger. You have a thing for all adornments right now, even if socks and shoes still come first in your heart. We persevere, however, and head out. A backhoe digging a hole in the neighbor’s yard provides unanticipated entertainment, and we all watch wide-eyed while it demolishes part of the sidewalk. Then it’s into the car with our cups full of toast, and off to school.

Outside the Bumblebees class, I set you in a chair, and Annie takes off your shoes and puts them in the drawer. We walk you into class and leave you with Ms. Leah on the mat. She helps you take off the hard-won sweater as we say goodbye.

You unfortunately have a very rough morning at school. Leah calls me at 9 to ask about the state of your ear infection (you’re on Day 8 of a second course of antibiotics) because you are crying inconsolably, thrashing too hard for a temperature reading, and tugging at your ears. I talk with Jennifer at 10, who says you’ve had ups and downs but only really calmed down when she walked around with you outside the class. Poor fellow. I authorize ibuprofen and ask to stay in touch.

You cheer up substantially; enjoy a full lunch of sloppy joe, oranges, and broccoli; poop; and nap for two hours. Perhaps this combination turns around your mood—your afternoon is normal and happy.

Ms. Shanna picks you up and brings you home for dinner, playtime, and a bath. When I arrive at 6:30, you run to me and back your butt up into my lap for a cuddle. I sit on the mat by the front door while you bring me tubs of play-doh and ask me to roll it between my hand to make balls. This causes you to chuckle in delight.

You abscond with some of Annie's markers and try to eat them.
You abscond with some of Annie’s markers and try to eat them.

At 7:15, we mosey upstairs, where you immediately apply yourself to some legos but are lured into my lap again by the promise of books. We name all the pictures in 100 First Animals and speed-read Pete the Cat and his Cool, Blue, Magic Sunglasses. I thread your arms into your sleep sack, sing the song, lay you in your crib, and tell you I love you. Night night, Mr. Paul!

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 8 months old.

You’re up at 7:15 and ready for action. You deliberate between a diaper and undies, go for the undies, and head downstairs for toast and yogurt. “Are we going to school today?” you ask, and are happy to hear there is nothing planned but a family day together. It’s Sunday.

You and Paul finish breakfast and gallivant around the house. I recently devoted a corner of the craft cabinet to your supplies—crayons, paper, scissors, play-doh. You love it, and spend a happy half hour pulling out construction paper, making two small cuts, and gifting it to us. “Here’s a present for you, just in case you need it.” I start making a Christmas sign on some warped foam core I want to use up. You request paint (pink and purple) to add to it. I allow this and regret it immediately.

A few minutes before 9, Dad gets you dressed and bundled up in the stroller for a quick run with Doug. At the conclusion, you make a stop at the Croissant House, your name for the coffee shop in the South Congress Hotel. (It’s right next to the parking garage entrance; for a time you thought all parking garages housed croissants.) I come down from the shower to find you all munching happily, covered in crumbs.

I show you a picture on my phone of you raking leaves with Dad a year ago, and you immediately want to rake leaves. Dad cleans up; Doug takes off; and you, Paul, and I go to retrieve the rusty old rake from under the house and sweep up leaves.

(If you flinched a little at the end of this video, know that I hit stop to redirect you a little farther away from Paul’s face.)


Then, it’s time for the grocery store. We pile into the car and head for Central Market. It’s a family favorite. You and Paul each get a seat in your own shopping cart, and Dad obtains a purple balloon for each of you. You lean sideways to stroke a red bell pepper and suggest we bring it home. You eye the mushrooms, and I hold a bag open so you can drop some in, deciding on the fly we’ll make spaghetti sauce later this week.

You say hello to the lobsters in the tank and select some dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets in the freezer section. Then we get to the really good part: you get to pick out any carton of yogurt you want (it’s Horizon Strawberry this time, featuring an appealing cartoon cow), and then two cookies, which we’ll stretch out for days. In the check-out line, you examine the credit card reader with great interest and help me pull out the card.

Eating your yogurt at the table at home, you inform me you’ve had an accident, so—after finishing that yogurt—we take off your wet clothes and sponge you off. It’s just about naptime, so you get into a diaper, and we set up your sleeping tent. After 10 minutes of hollering about its placement (you want it closer to Paul’s crib so you can poke each other; we demur), you settle down and sleep for a couple of hours.

Paul is still asleep when you wake up, so we bring you into our room and lounge on the bed. You luxuriate in the full attention of both parents for 15 minutes, but are happy when Paul gets up to play with you. You eat a snack (banana, pecans, and a pinch of cookie), put your balloon back on your wrist, and push around your shopping cart. Around 3, we head outside into a gorgeous afternoon.

For the first time, we see you really balancing and scooting on this bike.
For the first time, we see you really balancing and scooting on this bike.

You ride your bike—really ride it!—while Paul pushes the elephant, and Dad and Sous tail us with the stroller. It’s quite a parade. At the playground, you swing and slide and run amok. You and Paul take turns on the tall twirly slide, and Dad teaches you how to climb up a new kind of ladder. It takes you two attempts, and then you’re a pro.

I can't believe you are tall enough for the water fountain now!
I can’t believe you are tall enough for the water fountain now!

When it’s time to head home, you decide to walk. “I need to go potty!” you tell me, and I am grateful for this information although it means braving the park’s public toilet. You sit on it but are spooked by the new environment and do not pee, which results in another accident as we arrive home. We sponge you off again; you opt to conclude the evening wearing nothing but a smock.

A lot going on here.
Just another evening at home.

From your rainbow of delicious foods for dinner—green beans, pink salmon, orange cheese curds, golden mango, and slivers of the red bell pepper you specifically requested at the grocery store—you eat the mango. (Okay, and a couple bites of other things when strongly prompted.)

We drop you in the bathtub and make bubbles with shampoo. You won’t permit much scrubbing but have a good long soak, sliding around and stretching out long after Paul gets out. When you’re all done, you get into your unicorn dress and we snuggle up in bed for an episode of Daniel Tiger and a fingernail trim. You want to stay in our bed for your book, so you go pick one out for us (The Paper Bag Princess). We read it. Then I carry you to your room, lay you in your crib despite your protestations, and run down to get your teddy bear, to whom you have recently become very attached. We say goodnight. “It’s very dark!” you pipe up in alarm, so we turn the lights on a couple of clicks for you. Goodnight, Annie.