Overheard from the children’s room, 6:35am.

[train whistle]

Annie: Hey Paul, it’s a train! Hey Paul, it’s a train! Paul, it’s a train! Hey Paul, it’s a train!

Paul: Hoooo

Annie: You can’t see it, it’s too far away. But you can hear it, it says ‘chugga chugga choo choo! chugga chugga choo choo!’



Paul can name us all now, and delights in doing it. “Da! … Mama! … Nehnee!” he crows, pointing to us in turn and waiting for celebration, like we’re athletes running onto the field or actors at curtain call. And when we remind him, he’ll point to himself and announce: “Bah!”

it’s a humor joke

Annie has been exploring the terrain of humor, starting with the denial of plain reality. “Those are NOT my socks. … Hehehehehehe. I’m SO SILLY.” It progressed gradually to such jokes as, “This couch is a butt.” Hehehehehehehe.

Sunday over snack, I gave it back to her. She pointed to her grapes and asked me, full of false innocence, “What are these called?” I looked into her eyes and deadpanned, “Bananas.” She looked back at her grapes and gave them a moment to actually be bananas, and I watched her eyes widen as she realized what I’d done. She squealed, HEHEHEHEHE, and asked me for a hundred more versions. “What are these, Mom? Do it like a joke.” All of a sudden, a new game.

Unfortunately I fear this has eroded trust between us. That evening during a discussion of animals, I tried to break it to her that unicorns were just pretend.

“Hehehehehehe. Mom. You’re SO SILLY.”

Snack the Horse copes with loss

I spent at least an hour with Annie in a small tent yesterday, lying on the ground while she stepped around me to play, and Paul occasionally burst in to show us toy cars and bounce on my diaphragm. Annie had encountered a stuffed horse, who we’d quickly decided was Snack the Horse, a character in the “Joe the Purple Lizard” stories Bryan started inventing for her and she now coauthors. (Pink and purple cupcakes are usually involved in their adventures—more on this series in future, no doubt.)

Today Snack was feeling low. He was crying for his Grandma, who’d had to go back to her house, but it was okay, Annie told him, because his mom (Annie) and his daddy (me) were right here. She cradled him and talked to him, and reminded him, “You have your toy” (a car). This went on for some time before things got worse for Snack. Now he had to lay down in his bed (one side of the tent), while Annie went to her bed (the other side of the tent). So much for Mom and Dad. Annie pet him and consoled him, and, from “her bed,” instructed me to tell Snack that he had to stay in his bed while Annie was in hers. Back and forth she went, meeting and parting with poor, weeping Snack in his bed. Things took another turn in Act III, when Snack could no longer have his toy car for comfort. “You canNOT have it, Snack, you canNOT have it,” Annie explained gently, as she hugged and rocked him, and held the car out at arm’s length.

Snack bore up well under the stress, in the end, and I felt like I was treated to an immersive performance of how toddlers make sense of hardship through play. Christmas at the Ranch.

tiny muscles

Tonight Bryan was throwing Annie and Paul into the air, making them shriek with delight. During Paul’s turn, Annie appealed to me: “Mom, can you throw me?” I told her sorry, I wasn’t as strong as Dad. She said, “Your muscles are just very tiny?”


News to us: she knows the word muscles; she knows they are related to strength; she knows strength is what it takes to throw her into the air; she is able to integrate all of this knowledge into an insult.