a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 3 years and 5 months old.

You and Annie thunder into our room when the light turns green and climb onto the bed, happy to find Dad and I in place after his California trip and your night with Charly. You make it through the morning routine with him, and more or less no tears.


It’s Cheerios and milk for breakfast, with one piece of “grownup cereal” (frosted mini-wheats) stuck in the center, its dome of hardened sugar a special prize. After breakfast, you help Dad put together his new battery-powered lawn mower—the kind of really exciting Christmas present grown-ups get for themselves.


It’s chilly outside, so we hustle to the car and drive to school. You escort Annie into her class, and we head for the Owls, where the expectation of jelly on english muffins eases the pain of separation.

It’s a normal day, as far as I know, with spaghetti and pears for lunch, and who knows, maybe even a nap. I find you at 4:45 engaged in your current favorite activity: running around on the playground turf with Fletcher and Silas. Fletcher is chasing you and tackling you. You tell me it’s “tag.” Mmhmm.

"Mom, do NOT embarrass me in front of my friends."
“Mom, do NOT embarrass me in front of my friends.”

The very last thing in the world you want to do is go home. I have to carry you off the playground and all the way to the car. New construction work around your school (building the new Moody Center) has closed roads and led to disastrous traffic. So it’s a long journey home. We make the best of the time, addressing such questions as:

“What are the soldiers doing in that statue with the person with wings?”

“What are ‘peace’ and ‘freedom’?”

“What makes a boat sink?”

And of course listening to Frozen 2. Oh my goodness, yes.

Home at last, we eat a quick dinner, and you and Annie have some playtime. You make up the kitchen tower into bunk beds, complete with your blankets and pillows, and do a little ukelele practice, centered on pressing buttons on the tuner. I show you how to play a C chord. You take a shower in our bathroom and snuggle into Dad’s lap for a book.


Dad tells the bedtime story—the latest in his Smaug the Dragon series—and reminds you to keep your body in bed. And you do! Nice work, buddy.

a day in your life

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).

You are squinting at the Christmas tree in an effort to only see the lights. "My eyes can do cool things."
You are squinting at the Christmas tree in an effort to only see the lights. “My eyes can do cool things.”

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.

"Where the north wind meets the sea..."
“Where the north wind meets the sea… Bzzz bzzz bzzz bzzz”

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.

future horror director hones her craft

Annie’s story requests continue to develop:

“Tell me a story about when Elsa was driving with her dad, and he turned off his headlights, and all the other cars did too, and then they all had a big crash, and then the wolves and the coyotes and the werewolves and the hyenas came–”

“And the lions!” (Paul)

“And the lions came, and they couldn’t call anyone because they didn’t have their phones.”

So I told it to them, naturally. Spoiler alert: Elsa makes a big ice bubble to keep the scary animals away, and they wait it out until a police helicopter spots them in the morning. Phew.