To Annie: this is what happened the day you turned 3 years and 8 months old.
At 6am, Paul goes on a crying jag that brings Dad in the room for comfort. You seize on the opportunity for a potty trip while he’s handy, then go back to sleep hard. When we push into the bedroom at 7:35, we wake you.
You head downstairs in your pajamas, climb into your chair, and consider the blueberries I have arranged into a smiley face. “Blue berries, Annie!” Paul exclaims, and you take little bites of them to show me how the insides are NOT blue, but ARE the same, berry to berry. You proceed to your banana yogurt while we make the toast.
I coax you into your dress for the day, but you DO NOT CONSENT to our pant selection. I implore your mercy. You request a different pair, and we proceed. I buckle you in the car and wave goodbye as Dad takes you to school. Until Riverside, you loudly mourn the fact you had not told me to “have a nice day.”
At school, you carry Paul’s diaper supply to his teachers, and bid him farewell. Dad drops you in the Owls with your 4th water bottle of the year. We suspect there is a ditch on the playground where you have been dumping them.
I hope you have a good day. You have become very fond of your teachers, especially Ms. Nomi, and your classmate Winnie seems to have finally replaced Isabella in your triumvirate of friends. I pick you up at 4:30 or so; you’re climbing on the playground structure and find me as I’m hugging Paul off a swing.
We obtain cracker snacks and are about to get into the car when you declare you have to go potty. We head back inside and make a shockingly efficient trip back to your classroom, where you kindly suggest the toy Paul can play with and make sure it’s back on the shelf before we go.
In the car, you remember the line of nursing students we once saw streaming down a long sidewalk—wow, was it only two months ago??—and ask where they’ve gone. You and Paul negotiate some disagreements about music volume, and I remember to appreciate how much less you two just shout over each other’s words now than you used to, when Paul had just found his voice.
You clamour out of the car and into the house. Dinner is not quite ready, so we sit on the couch and watch family pictures cycle through the new Google product Dad has introduced into the living room. Access to a special fork (a single, purchased foolishly when there was only one of you) causes strife, even removed from the choice set, and you and Paul both want the red plastic fork that remains. Dad pushes you to work it out, and you graciously concede and take the yellow fork instead. Peace reigns. I teach you how to pick up your pasta (don’t just stab—stick-slide-scoop). We all learn and grow.
After dinner and with clean hands, you sit on my lap at the piano where I bang out Rudolf in exactly the same halting pace my mom did. You call it “Rudolf the Red Reindeer” and have loved it since you heard it at the Capitol tree lighting a week or so ago. It’s your carol of the year, I think. (Last year’s was “Jingle bells, jingle bells, ALL the way…”)
You discover new presents under the Christmas tree. OMG. They have arrived in the mail from Debbie and Bianca, and, you correctly read your name on yours. You caress it, carry it around, play with its string, and generally risk loving the package to death two weeks before you get to open it. I extricate you from the loops you’ve used to fashion it into a backpack before you bring it straight into the tub.
We have a relatively joyful bubble bath, and you hurry into your pajamas to warm up and watch an episode of Daniel Tiger (today’s lesson: when you’re upset, you can find a way to feel better). For a bedtime book you select The Gruffalo but express regret on the way to bed for not picking the Jeanie book, which you just discovered and we read several times over the weekend.
Your last questions are in a morbid vein as you continue to grapple with death. I do my best to be honest without completely freaking you out. I think there’s a lot more of this in our future.