a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 9 months old.

You wake up in your converted crib/big-kid bed at about 10 till 7, but stay there under the power of your own discipline until your clock turns bright green at 7:05. Then you spring out of bed and head for the door with Paul. Dad and I hear the thunder of your feet and intercept you, both bubbling with delight at the magic of your clock.

We have introduced morning checklists in tandem with the big beds, to try and give you more responsibility for getting dressed and head off some of the delays around getting ready. You are not 100% sold on it, but the power of checking boxes has an undeniable allure, and it gets you through potty, tooth-brushing, and getting dressed in about 10 minutes, and before you leave the room. You dawdle a bit, and Paul finishes first, so Dad gets you through the last few steps while I take Paul downstairs.

Breakfast is a slab of pumpkin bread, some strawberries, and a piece of cheese. We eat together at the table. Dad cuts more strawberries on request, and I blow up the pink balloons Eleanor gifted you last weekend. We prepare the toast cups with vitamins of the requested color, and I lure you out to the car by agreeing to tell you the story of Elsa on the way to school.

I keep my promise and give you perhaps my 50th rendition. I carry you into school because you have poked yourself in the eye with your unicorn headband and enjoy the coddling. Paul is cheerful at drop-off; you put your arms around him and kiss his forehead to say goodbye. In your class, you show Ms. Jolene your headband, give me a hug and a push out the door, and I leave you to go wash your hands for breakfast.

It’s a normal day by all reports. You probably play with some of the newer friends I hear you talk about—Ramona, Eloise, maybe others with names from children’s literature. When I arrive to pick you up, you are in the Willows classroom where they have consolidated the kids your age whose dillettente parents have not shown up yet. You have hitched an Ariel costume up around your torso, your own skirt poofed around your chest, and are pretending to nurse a baby doll, immersed in your fantasy world. I leave you there for another few minutes at your request, and pick up Paul. Back together, we manage to coax you out of your costume and up the stairs. You grab a quick cracker snack for the car.

On the way home, you request—surprise—the Frozen soundtrack, and we pull into the driveway as the “Let It Go” radio cut plays. Unbuckled, you and Paul climb out of the car and head inside, where Dad has dinner waiting: manicotti from Central Market, and roasted broccoli. You eat pretty well, and we head upstairs to get ready for bed.

Getting your pajamas on has become a battle of wills some nights as you and Paul find your last pocket of energy for willful play. You have instigated a terrible game just this week where you run back and forth between your beds yelling “tippy top” and stone-cold ignoring us. I try to nip this in the bud by carrying Paul out of the room to get his pajamas on in isolation, while he yells, “I WANT TO PLAY TIPPY TOP!” We persist, and Dad gets you into pajamas at last. He reads to Paul while I answer your questions about why octopus and squid have their mouths on their butts. Finally, you cuddle up at my side while I read a second round of Where Do Diggers Sleep At Night. We start the lullaby, turn on the noise machine, and you nestle into bed happily.

You say something impossibly sweet to me along the lines of “I want to hug you forever because I love you,” so we count 10 hugs, I give Paul a snuggle, and then agree to tell you about one part of the Elsa story once you’re all tucked in and I’m standing at the door. (It’s all about creative incentives these days.) You want me to talk about why the wolves didn’t smell Elsa when she ran up to the top of the mountain, so I propose 5 minutes of various reasons from the doorway. Goodnight, my curious girl.

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