To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned three years old.
At 7:20, I hear you singing the birthday song to yourself, quietly, through the door to your room. Dad and I walk in, boisterous.
“Annie, do you know what today is??” I ask. You look up at me from your book with a sweet, hopeful smile, and venture, “…A home day?”
Oh, well, not quite. But hey, it’s your birthday—that’s pretty good. I ask if you want to put on your special dress, the one that your classmate Isabella’s family left in your cubby yesterday as a gift. “Um, yeah!” you affirm. I lift you out of your crib, we select some Paw Patrol undies, and you step into your confection of a dress. (When you tried it on for the first time yesterday, you looked so sweet and soft that Paul immediately hugged you.)
Downstairs, you request lemon yogurt, and I oblige. The mood is cheerful. You and Paul finish your yogurt—not a drop on your dress!—and munch through a couple slices of toast. We slide on your shoes and head out.
It’s trash day, so we remark on the garbage trucks. You ask why they’re called that, and I explain that garbage and trash are two words for the same thing, and you add that there are also recycling trucks, and compost trucks. True. You point out the alligators (elevators) on the buildings under construction downtown, and debate with Paul whether certain vehicles are cars or trucks.
At school, we run into Isabella and her dad while you are doing this:
So they are able to see how much you enjoy your new dress. We drop Paul off in the Sea Turtles, and Shanna and Maricela make a fuss over you. I leave you in the Peacock class with a promise to see you again at 3. Mary tells me you spend the whole day twirling.
At 3:20, I find you and your classmates having snack around the tables, which I enhance with tiny cupcakes (HEB’s finest, with the icing sliding off the top from spending the day in my warm car.) You are quiet, but I engage your classmates in conversation about who is two and who is three. When I ask what comes after 3, I am greeted by blank stares. In another life, I’d know precisely when you were developmentally able to understand sequence in that way, but that is not the life we’re leading. I also would have baked the cupcakes.
We say goodbye to the Peacocks and seek Paul on the playground. He spots us and runs over for a hug, pink and damp. I hustle you all to the car with a promise of a cupcake in the backseat. You do not get one speck of it on your dress. Paul is another story.
At home, we say hi-bye to Dad as he gets home from the office but heads into a last meeting. While I’m helping you on the potty, Paul joins that meeting, and we call him out. You ask to watch “a little Kiki,” and what the hey, it’s your birthday. So we do that for half an hour or so, until Dad finishes his meeting and the good weather lures us outside for a walk.
We come home to open presents: animal puppets from our friends Katie/Poppy, a rocketship tent from Gamma and Gobka, and a baby doll from us. You’re into it.
It’s potty time again. With a taffeta rustle, you gather your skirts in your lap and give me the grimace I have known for three years. “I’m going to poop a lot and tinkle a lot,” you inform me. Yes ma’am.
You and Paul are coming a little unglued but have a mostly-good time romping in the tent while Dad and I rinse berries and thaw peas and make two boxes of Annie’s macaroni and cheese. I wish I could tell you this was a special meal designed with your favorites in mind, but really it’s just what we eat these days.
Dad offers you the option of continuing to push your baby in the stroller downstairs or watching 10 more minutes of Kiki after a bath. You opt for the latter, and cooperatively get undressed and into the bath. I wash your giant body, thinking of my vanished newborn, and it’s back to the movie for the gripping conclusion. Your doll joins the pack of friends in your crib, and we read a new book from our friends Caroline/Jane. We start our lullaby, and you turn down the lights—the bedtime job you relish.
After I tuck you in with your baby, you ask me to sing “Twinkle Twinkle,” so I do while you hold my hand.
“Thank you for singing me the song, Mom.”
“You’re welcome! Goodnight, Annie. I love you so much.”
“I love you so much TOO, Mom!”
I visit Paul’s crib for a last cuddle while we review the plan for the morning, which involves making toast and consulting clocks and the location of the shelves in our bedroom. You want to know everything. I back away slowly and say a final goodnight through a crack in the door.
Then you sing and make siren noises and say “I’M THREE I’M THREE I’M THREE wee-oh-wee-oh-wee-oh” and ask Paul if he speaks Spanish for another 40 minutes. I listen to you while I write this.