a day in your life

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

You and Annie both sleep in, until 7:30. Then you bustle out to tell us the light turned green. Sure enough. Dad finds you in bed and pretends you’re a baby turtle, asking you which part is your shell. Your undies, on your butt, you tell him. Also, you tell him, his skin is his shell, and when he attempts to put on a black shirt as an improvement, you correct him: it must be green. He ends up in his flamingo tank top. Nice work.

He gives you a few airplane rides and offers to fly you to the potty. You consent, and bladders are emptied and hands washed without strife. Expert dadding. He continues to play you through your morning list, and you end up downstairs with a mouth full of mango chewies in no time at all.

You ask if we can call Granddad and Susu. Of course! We do, and find them also still waking up at 8am. We show off your haircut, and you glow at Granddad’s compliments and reminders that he, too, has short hair.

You finish breakfast and head out to swing on the new little swing we’ve rigged up on the carport. Then it’s time to load up, so you do, still in cooperative mode. We listen to a story during our 7-minute commute to Spanish camp—just enough time for the first half. You ask me to carry you inside and are a bit clingy for a minute. I sing you a made-up song and enjoy your littleness in my arms. Ms. Patricia greets you, “Buenos dias, Paul. Vamos afuera!” The other kids are outside. We walk up to the door, and you tell me I can stay inside. I do while Patricia helps you all see a monarch butterfly. You’re good to go. I back out.

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About your day, I know this: thunderstorms rolled in, and you all watched the rain pool in the backyard and called it a river. You celebrated a pretend birthday for Ms. Patricia. She spoke in Spanish to you, and all the children spoke English to each other.

Dad picks you up at 4:30. All four of you descend on him speaking of plans for a sleepover (we had our first a few days ago—a big hit). You have drawn a map related to this plan. He pulls the plug. “You have to make these plans with grown-ups.” True, true. You head home.

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We offer you some tablet time while I finish cooking dinner. You spend time in a Spanish vocabulary app. Good on you. At some point, you sneak away to the toilet to poop solo—we find the evidence, and your pants, much later.

Dinner is salmon, noodles, and tomatoes. You eat it all and ask for an apple. Actually, you get up and say in a tiny voice, “May I be excused to get an apple?” and what are we going to say? Yes, of course. I have to pry it out of your hand to wash it. You dip pieces of your food into your milk; ew.

"Paul, stop rocking Annie's chair."
“Paul, stop rocking Annie’s chair.”

A bath is in order. Dad heads upstairs with you and gets you thoroughly cleaned in a rainbow bath with bubbles. Then it’s an episode and a half of Octonauts, our latest (not exactly educational but at least very wholesome) television show. You watch while I make a big calendar for us on foam board, which you’re both very interested in now so we may always know whether it’s a day we can have dessert.

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I read Annie’s book first, an offense you do not forgive. You turn into a broken car (pretend) and require towing to your bed. I lay there with you while Dad finishes reading another chapter to Annie, then vamoose for his bedtime storytime. You do not go quietly, making an occasional fuss and getting out of bed (though not as much as your sister) to ask us questions and call our attention to things important to small children. It winds down by, let’s say 8, optimistically. (Posted at 7:50.)

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 5 years and 1 month old.

It’s Mother’s Day. Dad reminds you of this when you walk into our bedroom. (“And what do we do on Mother’s Day?” “We’re nice to Mom.”) What you need NO reminder of is this: we’re going to the ranch! After 8 weeks of lockdown, we’ve decided that 6 hours of driving is a reasonable price to pay for 6 hours of running around, with 6 feet of distance between household members. Pandemic math.

Getting ready is not all sunshine and roses, but we manage to accomplish the essentials and get on the road by 7:30. You and Paul munch happily through your breakfasts while we cruise north on the emptiest 1-35 we’ve ever seen. You enter an imaginary world, and Dad and I smile at each other to hear the louder snippets of your story. “…the GREATEST QUEEN in the WORLD!” When your storyline concludes, you request a Circle Round podcast episode, and estimate it will take us 7 stories to reach the ranch. I am impressed—at 20 minutes each, I think you are exactly right. (You later revise your estimate to 19, but maybe just because you love them.)

We arrive 3 hours later and tumble out of the car, so excited yet flustered that we forget about Sous. I find her in the backseat a few minutes later. When we would have hugged your grandparents, we instead offer awkward greetings from a distance, pitching our voices to carry. It gets better after that.

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You inspect the oak tree that’s toppled over, assessing it for climbability and fort-building capacities. We decide it definitely must stay. Reminded of the blackberry bush, you decide it’s time to pick some, and you and Paul race over, one piloting Little Kermit, child-sized jeep, and one on foot. Then some quality sand-pit time. Checking all the boxes.

You hop in the hot tub for a major swim, diving for sticks under water while the adults sit around you, providing all the attention you wish. Gamma and Gobka arrive—more beloved grandparents from whom to keep our distance.

You visit the bathroom and begin waging your campaign to hang out inside. (“I just need to cool off inside.” “I’m so tired: I need to nap on the bunk bed.”) We feed you fried chicken and macaroni and cheese for lunch, on a sheet under the tree. It couldn’t be more beautiful.

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You do more kid-cart driving, and swing in the hammock. We visit the blackberries again, and eat cobbler. Granddad and Susu feed the cows. The afternoon melts away. We eat another dessert, chocolate cake for your belated birthday. It’s somehow time to go.

We get loaded up without tears, and wave goodbye to our family. Time to drive again. You get one more Circle Round story before Dad declares a moratorium. Paul has fallen asleep, and you certainly would if we would just stop reminding you not to suck your thumb. You try to hide it from us behind a doll, and your hair. I talk to you to distract you, and give you things to put in your mouth instead. Sunglasses. A chard stem. Sheets of dried seaweed. When we reach Waco, we declare moral victory and let you play on your tablet for the rest of the trip home.

It’s 7 when we arrive, and you are tired. It’s a cup of yogurt for dinner, and off to get clean. You take a shower in our bathroom (by yourself, “like a grown-up”), and clean yourself adequately. I help you into pajamas, paint your thumbnails with our revolting quit-sucking polish, and read a chapter of the Elsa and Anna book June mailed you for your birthday. Dad tells a bedtime story, and I field a few post-bedtime questions and requests from Paul (who slept for 2 hours in the car). You are tired, though, and laying down everytime I open the door. By 8:15, it’s all quiet. Goodnight, sweetie. You’ve come a long way.

Aside

i hope i don’t beat this spirit out of her

[Annie, 45 minutes after bedtime. Her 3rd appearance at her door, and perhaps the 10th time we’ve intervened since 7:30.]

Annie: Mom, can I have one more question?

Me: Annie, I’m really disappointed to see you out of bed. This is the time to be resting our bodies.

Annie: But Mom, I needed to tell you that Paul shared some of his lovies with me.

Me: Okay, but I don’t understand why you needed to get out of bed and tell me that, or—Paul shouldn’t be—he shouldn’t be out of bed either, even sharing lovies.

Annie: But Mom, I just wanted to tell you about kindness.

[Beat]

Me, with a softer tone: Oh gosh, Annie. I do, I do like hearing about kindness. But—

Annie: And it’s a dog family. Okay, goodnight.

Me: Goodnight.

Annie: Mom, do you know who I love the most?

Me: Who?

Annie: My whole family.

Me: That’s LOVELY, Annie. Goodnight.

Annie: Goodnight!

[10 minutes later, still listening to them chatter]

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piñata

Paul was excited to make a piñata yesterday, so we did. Paper mache over a very small balloon made a totally adequate target to bludgeon with a plastic shovel. I’m pretty sure the whole thing was a ploy for jelly beans, but at least he had to earn them with crafts, and patience, and exercise.