To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 4 years and 8 months old.
I look up at the clock from my phone, where I’m browsing the paper, and discover to my shock that it’s 7:15. You and Paul are still snoozing. I come in your room and sort of stare at you like a creep, and you wake up within a minute. “Paul, look, the light!!”
You see me and hop out of bed, running for the potty. Beating Paul there has become your central motivation through your morning list, and you leave him in the dust (and crying—I literally turn the clock back and narrate a do-over where he gets to the potty first). You slip on your new glittery shoes, which have not overcome your complaints about shoes being SO HOT and basically the worst thing in the world, but at least you’ll put them on. While I finish up with Paul, you head downstairs, in the dark, by yourself, and set out the pancakes and dried mango for breakfast. Wow.
It’s 40 degrees and raining outside, so of course you two want to spend some time prancing around the front yard in shirt sleeves, and do. At least you trade up to boots instead of ballet flats. We make it to the car, and to school. Drop-off is complicated by my betrayal of Paul’s wish to carry the umbrella, but you encounter June immediately and join up happily with your class.
It’s Spanish day, so you spend the morning learning some words and a new song. I get a phone call at noon from your teacher to tell me you and your friend Charlie were running opposite directions around a corner and collided in the face. You have a major goose egg on your forehead and spend quite a bit of quality time in safe space to recuperate.
I see you a few minutes after five, so engaged in a read-aloud you have trouble noticing me. When you do, though, you pop out, empty your art cubby into my pocket, and tear off for the front door. I sign your face-wound incident report, acquire your brother, and follow in your wake. You get a good dose of the air vent on the way to the car, and we hold hands in a chain to cross the street. You open a present in the car you think is for you but is actually for me: a tote bag you have painted for Dad and I for Christmas. Cute!
We listen to the Frozen 2 soundtrack all the way home, Paul cackling with laughter to Olaf’s silly number, and you belting out “Show Yourself” with gusto and debating the finer points of Elsa’s self-discovery with me. At home, you talk me into some goldfish crackers as an appetizer, and I boil water for tortellini while you snack and Paul has a screaming fit on the front step (he wanted to open the door by himself, and did NOT approve of my returning to the car for our bags).
Peace returns, and we eat heartily. You and Paul pretend a cardboard box is a bathtub, and play kazoos along with yet more Frozen 2.
We make it upstairs, and wash face and hands and teeth, and you run dramatically to the toilet, telling me you haven’t peed since the morning. I almost believe you. You’re pretty wound up and decline to pick a book, but I get you into bed with the lure of a story about Lightning and Holly and the boa constrictor friends and ELSA. At some point everyone crosses into the spirit world and turns into a skeleton car, and Elsa makes a giant ice slide to get home since Lightning can’t drive on his bone wheels. Paul keeps adding plot twists that begin, “But then, they ACCIDENTALLY…”
At some point you ask me whether wind can blow down a house, and I tell you about tornadoes. Silence. Then, firmly: “Mom, you should NOT have told us about that.” Sorry!! Appreciate your notes on my parenting, as always.
We say our good-nights a little late, and you fall asleep quickly, presumably to have nightmares about tornadoes. Goodnight, little one.