a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years old.

You spend your first half hour in crib-to-crib conversation with Annie, who relates an involved tale of needing to go potty. At 7:30, Dad and I enter the scene and swoop you down to a breakfast of blackberries and mini-pancakes. “I’m HUNGary,” you tell us pitifully, as you tuck in.


Dad takes you on a walk, and reports that you talk quite a bit when you’re on your own. Not words he can understand, but still! Words words words.

Back home, you bust into another birthday present, which we’ve been dribbling out over the last three days. This one is a Spiderman-themed set of Duplos. You are particularly excited about the red motorcycle.

You are watching my dry my hair, with some alarm.
You are watching me dry my hair, with some alarm.

We load up into the car and head to Waterloo Icehouse on 360 for a playground brunch with the Crowders and Smid-Saidis. You romp all over the playground like a pro, and track a load of wet sand back to the table. Your blueberry pancakes—yes, more pancakes—must be a little gritty, but you don’t seem to mind.

We drive home through Dad’s childhood neighborhood, and Annie tells jokes to make you laugh (example: “apple pizza” — hahahahaha). You spot the AIRPAINS at Camp Mabry. We get home and settle down for a nap.


We spend the afternoon at home, doing all our favorite things. You bounce on the couch with Annie to the tune of the White Stripes, build with legos, and eventually Dad and I remember your birthday present. Dad assembles your first bike on the floor while the anticipation builds, and you helpfully identify the wheels.

I love the expression on your face, even if the photo's blurry. You're a beautiful kid.
I love the expression on your face, even if the photo’s blurry. You’re a beautiful kid.

The bike is still a little bit big for you, but something tells me you’ll be tearing around in no time. The “labeebug” helmet you picked out is on its way. We do a little more romping, and I pretend to be a monster and chase you and Annie around the house (video withheld for the preservation of my dignity). You take in a little Finding Dory while I cook dinner.

Our cousins arrive at 5 or so—Lisa, Eric, Miles, and Lyla. They’ve come bearing hand-me-down gifts, the best kind. Eric presents you with beautiful hand-carved cars and trucks, and Miles and Lyla pass down a little green spinner thing that you and Annie have always enjoyed at their house. You and Annie take it for a, well, a spin.

Miles helps you assemble your Duplo kit, and the four of you play together while the adults talk about boring grown-up stuff. Dinner is skirt steak, salad, potatoes, and corn. You eat three cobs of corn and nothing else.

the determined glint in your eye as you set into cob #1
the determined glint in your eye as you set into cob #1
cousin play
cousin play

We sing you happy birthday and bring out cupcakes with a candle. You attempt to blow it out; we attempt to instruct you on technique; you misunderstand and put your fingers in the flame. Ouch. Buoyed by frosting, your recovery is swift.

Bedtime looms, and our family says goodbye. We march upstairs for a bath and an accelerated bedtime routine. Acknowledging your age and sophistication, Annie announces that it’s YOUR turn to do the lights. Dad hoists you up to press exciting buttons on the wall. In your crib at last, you certify the presence of MY DOGGY, and all is well. Goodnight, my 2-year-old.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 4 months old.

It’s Paul’s birth-week, and the special attention is rolling in. He wakes up talking about his new fire truck while you stay quiet with your eyes screwed shut. I come to you singing a song about you and lift you up into a big hug. The attention helps you face the day.

You wake up in dry undies, having decided a week ago that you don’t need to wear diapers at night any more. So that’s it for diapers, just, done! You head to the potty, and I sit you on the bathroom counter for a ponytail.

Breakfast is plums and mini-pancakes.
Breakfast is plums and mini-pancakes.

Dad takes you to school and drops you off in your still-new class, the Owls. Special features include Splash Day, wherein you get wet and muddy, and a classmate’s birthday, which offers further training in not being the special one. You come home with an almost implausibly sophisticated piece of art.

At home, you encounter Aunt Camei, Granddad, and another birthday girl—Susu! She’s here to celebrate her 70th, and what better way?

catching up
catching up

You have apparently learned to snort at school today and are pretty delighted with that accomplishment. The next half hour passes in frantic play with grandparents, Paul’s new firetrucks, Rabumpus—I lose track. You cap it off by literally running laps around the house, which Susu and Granddad obligingly count. Twenty-five.

I would have thought you worked up an appetite, but you decline your dish of mac and cheese and for dinner eat five strawberries and a glass of milk. Then upstairs we go, for a lengthy game of hide and seek that involves running out of the room, shouting some numbers, running back in, and squealing when you find me and Susu hiding under a blanket. Paul tails you through the process. Eventually the whole family joins in.

At 7:15, it’s time to wind down. We wash hands and brush teeth, and you pick out Ollie the Stomper to read, then Dog Goes to Nursery School with Dad. “We haven’t read this one in a long long long long time.”

You turn off the lights, and we proceed through our cuddle routine. As I’m leaving the room, you bust out the hard questions, and I stand in the doorway and spontaneously generate answers to such gems as, “What happens to me when I die?” In response to my answer (something like: our bodies go back to the earth, and everything else that’s alive carries a little piece of us), you follow-up with, “Do the crabs get me?” Oof. Where’s heaven when you need it? You are also curious about whether clouds die, whether water is alive, and when I find myself trying to answer whether the sun will die, I decide to call it.

I say goodnight, and you ask your true burning question: “Is tomorrow a school day or a home day?”

A home day, Annie. A home day.

Annie (the musical)

I took Annie to see Annie (1982) today. Her first movie in the movie theater. She did great. Ate an entire small popcorn by herself, down to the kernels. Sat rapt in the seat, elbow-deep in that popcorn bucket, pushing down with her legs while the seat cushion threatened to pop back up. The second half she spent in my lap, and fell asleep once, during the Easy Street song—grown-up stuff. She was attentive and polite through the whole adventure, and saved the questions for the way home.

Why didn’t Annie have a mom and dad?
Why was she all alone?
How do we die?

Oh, girl. You keep me on my toes.

it’s getting interesting

On the way home from school today, Annie told me that houses start with blue paper. Blueprints, she meant, of course. It led to a conversation about architects, and who they are and what they do. I told her I was working with an architect at work—maybe our first genuine exchange about what I do at my job. Cool.

During our elaborate bedtime routine, she asked if grown-ups cried, and when I told her yes, she asked what made them cry. (“When Dad takes your things?” she suggested.) We talked about learning what to do with your feelings, and how that takes practice and grown-ups have done a lot of practicing, and that people are more important than things, and all sorts of good stuff. Then she held my hand and said, “I’m happy right now,” and I melted into the floor.