a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 7 years and 4 months old.

You have been going to sleep on Pacific Time since we returned from California, so it’s a late morning, too. Fortunately, climbing camp doesn’t start until 9, so there’s plenty of time. You’ve decided you need your own morning-coffee routine, so head for the electric kettle as soon as you rise, and mix yourself a milky cup of instant decaf.

We load up and head out the door. You’ve been enjoying camp this week and have met another old friend from Colibri (Finn) with whom you’ve exchanged numbers and are advocating for a playdate. (I taught you and Paul my phone number while we waited for the ferry on Port Aransas a few weeks ago.) You’ve also befriended a smaller girl named Lucy.

PXL_20220810_203643072

Camp is presumably fun. I pick you up on the early side, just a half-hour into the extended day. You are in the middle of a dodgeball game. In the car, you apply your raspberry snack to all ten of your fingers, and are devastated when one falls off before I have a chance to photograph you.

Things go downhill from here.
Things go downhill from here.

We are headed to Life Kido, which you started attending in March with best-friend Jade and to which we have recently added Paul as well. Unfortunately, you have forgotten that this is our destination. When we arrive there instead of at home, your misaligned expectations and the aforementioned raspberry tragedy send you into a tailspin. You agree to leave the car, barely, but refuse to participate, and sit next to me in a chair while the rest of the class leaps merrily through a ninja obstacle course and I regret driving across the city for this. (That the rest of the group is all boys, and your friend Jade is absent this week, does not help.)

We go home. You put on your helper face and your apron, to assist Dad with dinner. You also get back to your first ambition for the evening: finishing the friendship bracelet you are making (ed. note – with excellent technique).

PXL_20220810_224722474

PXL_20220810_233751729.MP

We eat dinner, and you and Paul have a long catch-up call with Gamma and Gobka, sharing stories of California cousin adventures and the latest hijinx of the invisible albino oryx.

We take a swing at a reasonable bedtime, and after a chapter of Winnie the Pooh, in which Kanga and Roo join the forest and endure some light persecution from the other characters, we say goodnight.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 7 years and 3 months old (a montage).

PXL_20220710_151151045

It’s Sunday. We have a long-anticipated playdate with Mr. Dustin, your afterschool “teaching artist” and his wife and daughter Penny. You and Paul bead them bracelets as a welcome gift, modeled here with your teenager face.

PXL_20220710_164347458

In the final stages of adjustment after our long trip to Italy, we spend a quiet morning hour in front of Sackboy and Subnautica. Paul is painted like a panda for no particular reason.

PXL_20220710_185507667

Our guests arrive. You gather 8-year-old Penny into your games, which necessarily involve water given the temperatures over 105.

PXL_20220710_185854479

You and Mr. Dustin examine a cicada shell.

PXL_20220710_191015972

We eat crunchy tacos and chat.

PXL_20220710_192409634

Apparently not yet sweaty enough, we head to the park. You and Penny scamper around the playground in a fantasy land while Paul plays goalie and orders the adults around.

We say goodbye to our guests with hazy plans to do it again sometime. We ready ourselves for another week of camp—back to Creative Action. Summer marches on.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 7 years and 2 months old.

It’s June; school’s out; and we’re in our first summer of stitching camps together for you and Paul. You two sleep in until seven. You wake up and dance around while I pack your lunch and Dad makes a round of chocolate pancakes. I sit next to you to brush your hair and encounter two of the most serious tangles I have seen in some time. We brush and pick and add conditioner—but eventually have to cut them out. You look in the mirror and do it with nail scissors. What with all the sun, chlorine, and hair-twisting, you may end up with a bit of a shag look this summer. We discuss strategies for better hair maintenance while you buckle on your helmet, and I watch, impressed, as you manage to roll your bike down all the back steps and out the gate. I walk with you into the park until you spot Paul and Dad, and you’re off for 20 minutes of riding around the park before it’s time for camp.

You load into the car with Dad, and he drives you to a church on the edge of our neighborhood for Creative Action camp. It’s all sorts of arts. We hear you make a video, and you come home with a wolf mask, and soaking wet from an afternoon of watersliding. We scamper across the hot parking lot (102 today) and head home. You play a few minutes of Minecraft with Paul in the loft. At 5, your best friend Jade arrives for a sleepover. She is wearing a little crop-top/training bra thing. The two of you disappear into your room, and you emerge in your black tank top, hand-cropped.

enjoying popcorn while I sew your "bra"
enjoying popcorn while I sew your “bra”
getting ready to craft
getting ready to craft

We eat quesadillas and fruit for dinner and then put on Harry Potter 3. You and Jade watch half an hour while I sew elastic into your homemade bra, and then adjourn to the craft table to draw black widow spiders and chat.

Jade: Lino was really a jerk to us, right? Remember that time he called us stupid?

Paul, from the couch: LINO is stupid.

Jade: Yeah.

Annie: No, Lino’s not stupid. Sometimes he just can’t control his feelings and says bad things.

7:15 rolls around, and you gleefully set up your bed for company. Elaborate plans are made and executed. We say goodnight. You reappear with further agenda items. Rinse, repeat. My last sighting of you is at 9:15, when the two of you appear at the guest room doorway, where Paul is sleeping. I growl at you. Good night, big kid.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 7 years and 1 month old.

You sit down at the breakfast table right on time and chat with us while Dad makes the standard morning pancakes. I cross my fingers in the sign language you invented to inquire whether you would like two ponytails this morning, and you affirm that selection. I gently extract yesterday’s rubberbands, comb out the snarls, and re-tail your hair.

It’s the home stretch of the school year, and you have a daily calendar of special events. Today you are to wear pajamas and bring a favorite book. I make sure you’ve got shorts and a tank on underneath your long-sleeve flannel—it’s going to be in the 90s again.

We walk to school. You and Paul lag behind, heads together in your own world, talking about insects and plants. We find an owl feather as we approach the school. You notice that no one else walking up is wearing pajamas and do some positive self-talk. “Be brave, Annie. This IS pajama day.”

You disappear into the cafeteria as the bell rings, and go on to your day. It IS pajama day, it turns out, and thank goodness, because it means we get a cute class photo from Mrs. Nuncio.

10052022_164815_60bdd1b1de42

You all read some of your favorite books to the class. You report you read a full chapter of the 6th-grade-reading-level book Framed. “Are you SUPER impressed, Mom?” Mmm…hmm.

On the way home, you walk with Dad and listen with interest as he tells you about colorblindness, and rods and cones. You catch up with Paul and I as we scavenge mulberries. You both collect as many as you can hold to make potions or paint back at home, and happily engage in mess-making while we pull together dinner.

PXL_20220510_224819697.MP

PXL_20220510_231051647.MP

We eat a simple dinner, and you politely request 10 minutes of Monster School, an extremely stupid youtube video with Minecraft characters. Blech. Sure, 10 minutes, but clean up your paint potions first. You do.

Bathtime is bubbly, and you and Paul pretend there are sharks and orcas and build Arctic mountains, an ongoing game. Out and dry, you climb up to bed and put on clothes for tomorrow. Dad reads you Fox in Socks—still great—and we say goodnight. Goodnight!

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 7 years old.

You wake up in heaven, i.e. on the sunny side of a sleepover with Eleanor, Riley, and Paul. You get straight to playing, and come down about an hour later for breakfast. We see you at 8:30, and load you up immediately for our first birthday event. Per your request, it is at the Wildflower Center with your sleepover buddies, best friend Jade, and Silas and Sage. The morning is beautiful. You all play together, more or less, and enjoy chocolate chip cookies and crystal light lemonade.

PXL_20220410_151123871

PXL_20220410_153751898

 

We boogie back home for lunch and then turn right around for our next adventure: The Lion King at Bass Concert Hall. I got us great tickets in a low-covid buying spree back in the fall, hoping you’d be grown-up enough to enjoy it for your birthday. You are! You find the puppets entrancing. (Paul keeps asking, “is this really happening?” and you answer, “yes, Paul!”)

Listening to a birthday message from Lisa, Eric, Miles, and Lyla. They're singing to you.
Listening to a birthday message from Lisa, Eric, Miles, and Lyla. They’re singing to you.

PXL_20220410_180053716

Three hours later, we head home. Gamma slipped your birthday gift to us during our trip to Kerrville, so we video-call them and you open it. It’s a science experiment kit—perfect. We set up in the lab and make emulsions with oil, water, and a series of other ingredients. You carefully log procedures and findings in your lab book.

PXL_20220410_213351056 PXL_20220410_235458062

Dinner is again your selection: mac and cheese, raspberries, cucumber slices. You’ve decided you don’t like cake, so Dad got you an ice cream cake instead, and you administer your own candles. We sing. You try not to smile. You blow out your candles. “I made a wish,” you declare, “I wished for my family to be happy.” You like knowing the right answers.

We wrap things up with a bath and a story from a book you got today: 5-minute Stories for Fearless Girls. Right up your alley, big kid.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 6 years and 11 months old.

You wake me up today, strolling in at 6:45 to find me bleary-eyed in bed. You keep me gentle company through my first half-cup of coffee, and we go downstairs as the pancakes are coming out of the pan. I brush and braid your hair while you eat. You put on your socks and read the morning announcements, imitating school:

“I pledge allegiance, to the flag, one nation, under god…I pledge allegiance, to the Texas flag… For lunch today, there will be bean and cheese tacos, and fresh apple slices. Remember to be safe, kind, and respectful.”

One second later, you step on a garter snake. Everyone is fine.
One second later, you step on a garter snake. Everyone is fine.

We walk to school, talking about the value of coins, and which presidents are on which bills, and what they did, and why is it all boys again?? Dad walks you and Paul to the door. The district made masks optional this week: you’re still sporting your N95 while Paul is happily coughing unimpeded on his classmates.

The main learning activity today is GROUP PROJECTS, creating habitat dioramas. You are working with Asma and Roalbert (my favorite name in your class), building a pond in a shoebox. Your work is not living up to your standards, but you seem to be rolling with it. Each group member has an animal for the habitat: yours is a snapping turtle. You also visit the library, one of your favorite places, and go to music class, where you’re singing about kindness.

In Creative Action, everyone works together to paint a paper mache dragonfly. You tell me later that getting paint on your shirt is the worst part of your day (your “thorn”). I pick you up a bit late, at 5:20, and we drive home to get to our Chinese take-out dinner while it’s hot.

You assign yourself one chunk of rice per math problem completed.
You assign yourself one chunk of rice per math problem completed.

You’re in good spirits through dinner, disemboweling dumplings and refilling their skins with rice. Your auspicious fortune reads, “A happy event will take place in your home.” Never bad news! We work our way through a little homework, and then you announce a Dance Off upstairs, and run off to set the stage.

PXL_20220311_002948258

PXL_20220311_004123927

There’s not much dancing at the Dance Off, but the instrumentals and the puppet show are fabulous. Paul loses interest and goes to play a mountain biking video game. You invite me to the stage for some yoga moves, and sing me a lullaby. We call Susu to find out the name of an app with peaceful noises. Dad tags in for some shadow puppetry and reads you The Berenstain Bears: The Messy Room.

PXL_20220311_011650935

You get your teeth brushed and some clothes changed, but aren’t quite ready to climb into bed. You try Paul’s instead. The price of admission is to write a fact on his chalkboard. You write, “I love you, Paul.” He disputes whether this is a fact, and you engage in debate. Finally he issues you a ticket, and I say goodnight as you climb aboard.

Ten minutes later, you’re back in your own bed, calling each other names—in other words, ready to sleep. Goodnight for real!

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 6 years and 10 months old.

At 6:35, you’re asleep in your bed, with Paul at your side. I climb up and squash between you. You challenge me to guess your favorite page in the Usborne Science Dictionary you’ve slept with: I guess animals, but it’s food groups. We review the two kinds of carbohydrates. You tell me your tummy sort of hurts. Let’s get some food in you! Surprise, it’s chocolate chip pancakes. Fourth day in a row.

As we prepare to leave the house, you decide your pants will not do, and head upstairs to change into a different pair of leggings with a hole in the knee. Surprisingly, this does not address your greivance of being too cold. A large, hooded, puffy jacket is also inadequate. You creep down the sidewalk as slowly as possible, a deep scowl on your face. I try to maintain a gravitational pull forward without getting too far ahead or paying you too much attention. Sous helpfully poops, giving me an excuse to loiter 10 feet in front of you, looking at something else. You inch closer.

“I have SO MANY THINGS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT!” you exclaim. “I wanted to have VITAMINS.”

“I can hear that you’re really unhappy,” I say sympathetically, right out of a parenting book.

Complaint issued, you muster the strength to go on. We pick up our pace, trotting a bit with Sous and eventually catching up to Dad and Paul. By the time we arrive at school, you are cheerful again, and highly motivated to get through the door before the bell rings, crowd of kindergarten acquaintences be damned. (“Pirates law,” Dad declares. “Wait for no one.”)

At school you begin science experiments to see if a lettuce leaf will stay crisper in salt or fresh water (your hypothesis: fresh) and if water will stay in a sealed bag or evaporate (stay). Science is your favorite, and this is right up your alley. It’s music today, and you play a singing game called “Doggy doggy, where’s your bone.” You explain the rules to me on the way home; they sound elaborate.

You do not appreciate being secretly photographed. Fair point.
You do not appreciate being secretly photographed. Fair point.

A few minutes after 5, we parents roll up to your afterschool portable, and you slip out the door. We get you packed up and start our walk home. Tomorrow is a planning day for teachers, so this Thursday night feels Friday-ish, and we make big plans for video games and popcorn after dinner and homework. Your homework all week has been writing valentines to each of your classmates—homemade, with “a positive message.” It’s been sweet hearing you craft messages to some of your friends about what you like about them. “I like how Margaret comes by my desk every morning and says hi.”

Margaret is not destined to receive that message, however, because when we arrive home, all your will to work melts away into fury and despair. Dad tries every positive, supportive trick in his book, but your dedication to not writing a single letter is ironclad. Twenty or so minutes later, you both come down, and Dad announces that “video night” is OFF. Poor Paul bursts into earnest tears.

A proposal is made: a timer will be set for 5 minutes, during which time you will work on your g-d valentines. After a few false starts during which you intentionally write letters incorrectly and slowwwly erase them, you manage to crank one out.

Oh Margaret, you'll never know how she really appreciates you.
Oh Margaret, you’ll never know how she really appreciates you.

We all declare victory and eat dinner with relief. Then, sure fine, video games. Paul plays Astro’s Playroom and you continue to add to your Minecraft rosebush palace. We all hang out in the dark, engaged in our own pursuits (I’m writing this) and chatting aimiably. Screens for the win.

showing me your pet zombie you've trapped
Proudly showing me the pet zombie you’ve trapped. “They eat dead owl’s blood, I gotta say.”

It’s bedtime, thank god, and it’s a totally smooth ride. Okay, not the best day ever, but we made it.

a day in your life

It’s Monday. To console yourself, you decide to wear your new clothes and dress “like a jungle,” in a leaf-green shirt and floral pants, with coordinating N95. You eat overnight oats we had the foresight to make the night before, and a homemade waffle courtesy of Dad’s unbelievable patience for cooking breakfast foods on weekday mornings. It’s 45 degrees on our walk to school, which you execute without a jacket, firm in your principles to never, ever ever, wear a coat.

checking your pretend phone before descending from bed
checking your pretend phone before descending from bed
walking to school
walking to school, cold

You are one of four kids in class today, out of 18. Lino, Margaret, Eddy, and you, you tell me. Mrs. Nuncio let you look at books while you waited for more kids to show up, but they didn’t. There was a covid exposure last week, so presumably the rest of the class was home sick or scared. Omicron, man, I tell you what.

You’re just fine, though—symptom-free, testing negative, and vaccinated up to your eyeballs—so school is the place to be. It’s PE today, and the four of you play the parachute game. At the count of 3, you lift up the parachute, and two people run under it to switch spots. You and Lino go together, then Margaret and Eddy. Then you put soft lovies on the parachute and try to launch them off. I remember doing this in elementary school: it is rad.

PXL_20220111_001852551

At Creative Action, you work on a family portrait, and decorate a mask. (“You’ll probably throw it away,” you tell me, “but that’s okay.”) Daddy arrives in the car rather than on foot—a special treat—and takes you to the new house to roll out the trash bins. Then it’s home for dinner, and you only freak out a little bit about the presence of tortellini on your plate before eating a bowl of meaty sauce all by itself, like a stew.

Dad and Paul start playing a video game, and you pop up after a minute to try for a poop, during which time you tell me all about your day of school while I type it up on my laptop (present moment, not pictured). We do the bedtime drill, and that’s all she wrote!

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 6 years and 8 months old.

Morning arrives. We apply some icky nail polish as part of your currently successful anti-thumb-sucking campaign, and shimmy into shorts and a t-shirt for this 85-degree December day. Downstairs, you negotiate over which advent calendar is yours to open this morning (you gave your turn to Paul for the lego Harry Potter calendar yesterday, so it’s his turn again this morning, but you get to open the Trader Joe’s calendar with the chocolate pieces that we cut precisely in half for you to share. Yeah, it’s complicated.)

Between bites of breakfast you squeeze in your math homework: transforming numbers by adding and subtracting 10s and 1s. We run out of time for your reading, regretfully, and pledge again to start a New Routine where we actually do homework at night. But this morning, here we are. We grab shoes, and brush your hair, and pick some masks, and pack a snack, put on Sous’ leash, and phew, here we go. On our walk, you ask me if there’s anything I want to talk about, and we have a lovely conversation about our plans for the weekend. Dad walks you up to the door and watches as the gravity of the school draws you in. We see you again at 5.

walking home with Paul
walking home with Paul
taking off your socks and telling me how bad your day was
taking off your socks and telling me how bad your day was

School, you report, was pretty bad. You had an upset stomach. You hadn’t finished all your homework and didn’t get a star. You had to take a mask break, in a designated private spot in the classroom where you can set a two-minute timer and draw or relax with your mask off. It was a PE day, which you usually love, but maybe today not so much. You and Paul bickered on the walk home, but at least you manage to agree on a movie for movie night: Elf.

At intermission we eat pot stickers and apple slices, then popcorn as we finish the movie. You stay up a little late to see the end. Upstairs, we trim a cuticle while you brainstorm more weekend plans and assure me you will not be resting well tonight. I read a little bit of Harry Potter 4, as the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang arrive for the Tri-Wizard Tournament. I say goodnight. Sorry you’re going to sleep so badly! See you in the morning.

a day in your life

To Annie, this is how you spent the day you turned 6 years and 7 months old.

Still adjusting to the time change, you and Paul are awake by 6 and playing happily. I get ready for our day, listening to you in the background, until 6:40. You’re working on a lego village, and I help build a rainforest for the green Hatchimals while gently inserting tooth brushing and dressing into the game. You keep playing while I make breakfast, and come down when I call you at 7.

PXL_20211110_130203245

You dig into your mango smoothie, toast, and math homework, counting by fives to total up nickels, and submit quietly to hair brushing. I have decided to do your hair brushing as long as you’ll let me—I love our gorilla grooming time. You and Paul get shoes, masks, and backpacks with relatively little prodding, and we’re off to school.

PXL_20211110_131555920

Six-and-a-half year old Annie is a delight, and I would happily press pause here for a while. You keep on growing up, though, observing the world around you and developing new interests in things like human evolution. You’ve declared your intention to become a librarian when you grow up.

At school, it’s your third day with a substitute teacher, Miss H, whom you tolerate. She gives you worksheets, it sounds like, which you think are harder than whan Mrs. Nuncio usually has you work on. It’s a music class day, though, and you have a good time playing instruments and a game to the tune of…some song about an apple tree. Paul has the same class, and you sing together and teach me the game after dinner. Creative Action after school is the BEST, with rainbow scratch paper on which you make several solar-system-themed drawings.

Pluto and Saturn, wearing winter hats because they're cold. In another drawing, Jupiter "has a look on his face" because the sun is so much bigger than him.
Pluto and Saturn, wearing winter hats because they’re cold. In another drawing, Jupiter “has a look on his face” because the sun is so much bigger than him.

I arrive at 5:15 with a baggie of blueberries and dragging feet thanks to my headcold. You and Paul take it pretty easy on me, putting us in a line to march home with all the important roles: line leader, door-holder, and line monitor who assesses and reports on the line quality with a thumbs up, sideways, or down. We get home. I have prepared nothing for dinner, and you announce your devestating hunger. I ask you to choose between corn dogs, dumplings, or a peanut butter sandwich. You select a corn dog as the “least bad” and eat it with ketchup and giant apple slices.

You and Paul do a little swinging in the dark with our backyard lanterns for extra flare, then move it to a “night bath” with lanterns perched above the tub. You declare it a peaceful space, and we all stay quiet and listen to the water.

I need a little time to clean up the house and write this post—Dad’s on a work trip—so I turn on a show. Paul selects Donkey Hodie (get it?), the latest muppet venture from the studio of Mr. Rodgers. Wholesome lessons flow. You climb up into Paul’s bed for a few pages of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which you talked Dad into starting a few nights ago. Mrs. Weasley is upset with your favorites Fred and George for throwing their lives away on dreams of a joke shop. You take it in quietly, and go to sleep quickly. Goodnight, 1st grader.