To Annie: This is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 10 months old.
Paul pops out of bed at 7:05 to announce that your wake-up clock has turned green, and Dad offers you his back to ride to the bathroom to begin your morning routine. You have refused to be enticed by the checklist, but we do insist on all the steps, and Dad helps you through them without major drama.
You tromp downstairs, dressed, and spread cold oatmeal on top of blueberry pancakes, a breakfast innovation you pronounce tasty. It’s Sunday and freezing cold, so we’re in no rush to go anywhere. You take your seat behind a pretend cash register and play an elaborate game of store-keeper with Paul. Dad and I have bit parts.
Around 9, you load up into the stroller and head to the Croissant House (not its real name) and then down to the trail on a walk with Dad. Frozen is your soundtrack. You come home happy, with a piece of croissant you’ve saved for me, and you press your cold cheeks to mine to warm them.
We snuggle up in bed to get warmer, and I step away for a few minutes while you look at pictures on my phone. (When I return, it’s in a settings menu about adaptive battery use. I’m sure everything is fine.) I have lathered up Sous’ undercarriage with antiseptic soap to treat a rash, and it’s time to rinse her. You help me try to lure her into the shower. “Sous!” you shout, imperious, while handing her treats. She ignores us, and I muscle her in while you shut the door behind us.
Dad’s playing video games, and you watch some before persuading us to transition to “Olaf’s Party Adventure” (not its real name), a 22-minute Frozen spin-off. You keep up the cold-things theme by selecting for lunch a frozen banana and three ice cubes. “Kids mostly like cold things, and grown-ups mostly like hot things,” you inform me.
Dad gives you turns at Destiny 2 (#responsibleparenting) while I put Paul down for his nap. I lure you into the living room with silver glitter to make Valentines for your classmates. Then we vacuum, a lot.
Next is tea time. You choose mint, pressing the tea bag to your nose to appreciate the smell. As always, we brew yours in our turquoise Heath Ceramics cream pitcher; you carefully wrap the string around the handle and bob the bag up and down while it steeps. You break raw spaghetti noodles into pieces to pass the time. When the tea is ready, you lift the bag onto a plate, toss 4-5 ice cubes into the pitcher, and stir until they melt and the tea is cooled. I pour you a cup, and you drink it in audible gulps.
We finish out the nap stretch with the first half of Moana, a merciful break from the cold. When Paul wakes up, we load up for the grocery store and make the sort of efficient trip that a busy Sunday afternoon demands. You and Paul, in separate carts, heave our items onto the cashier’s belt. We leave with a purple balloon on each of your wrists.
Dinner is noodles with Susu’s spaghetti sauce. Presented with broccoli three ways (we like it roasted; you do not), you deign to eat a bite of the raw and pronounce it your favorite. We’ll see. We hustle upstairs for a bath with promises of sailing in bath-boats, like Moana. Cleaned-out yogurt cartons are our best boat option. You take us literally and perch on top of yours, paddling through the ocean with a plastic spoon.
Our bedtime book is Florette, and once you’re in your beds, I tell you from the doorway a story about Elsa and Scrooge. As is our current routine, I say goodnight and close the door, and you and Paul shriek in protest: “I forgot my questions!!” I open the door. “Tell me your questions.” You chant, and then Paul echoes you exactly, “If I have to go potty, I’ll let you know, and if I need help wiping, I’ll let you know, and if I get scared, I’ll let you know.” And I say, “Goodnight, Annie, goodnight, Paul, I love you I’ll see you in the morning.”