a day in your life

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

You start the day as usual: with pancakes and Wings of Fire. At 7, we hustle you gently to get ready to walk out the door, and you get your shoes on while I refill your water bottle. We walk to school together, noticing the shortening days. The sun isn’t quite up yet, but the clouds are pink. It’s still hot, but not miserable. The weather is finally changing.

You administer hugs all around at the bridge, and bounce on ahead to enter on your own. As far as we know it’s a good day. You have PE and rack up 10K steps. Your teacher Ms. Pleasants gives you two “on task” points, and I hear no horror stories. You’ve been rowdy in class lately, most recently playing tag with friend Jaden during lessons. Not cool. You’re working on it.

Dad picks you up at the end of the day, and you walk home in the 90-degree temperatures we’re grateful for. Per our new schedule, on Tuesdays you and I hang out. I take you to Cidercade for an hour of skee ball and some sort of  2-player fighter pilot game. You’re basically in heaven.

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Back home, Dad has cooked dinner, and we eat together. Afterward, you and Annie play with silly string in the side yard and clean up all the pieces. You take a bath, which I terminate after you slosh an inordinate quantity of water out of the tub. You and Dad read a book about Zelda lore. I read the first chapter of Winnie the Pooh aloud to both of you, and then a Tinkerbell story (“The Fairy Berry Bake-Off”) at your request. We say goodnight at 7:35. You snuggle up with your lovies and head towards sleep.

a day in your life

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

You wake up in a tent, after your very first summer camp overnight, at Bob’s Adventure Camp in Marin Beach, CA. You were very excited about this. You report waking up at 5:45, but everyone has to wait to leave the tents until the counselors are up.

Breakfast is hot chocolate and pancakes (two GIANT blueberry pancakes, in your case). You’ve identified a new best friend named Griffin, and presumably rampaged around the camp, playing sports and games and wading in the creek and raising almost-7-year-old hell. You also helped Bob put away the tents, you are proud to report.

weaving on looms
weaving on looms
living your best life
living your best life

I pick you up at 4. “We get to take home GRAPES!” you brag, as Bob distributes the leftover food to interested families. You and Annie march straight to the car and buckle in. You are filthy and tired and quite happy. During our 20 minute drive back up the coast, you tell me all about the night: how you cooked chicken legs and hot dogs for dinner, and they smelled so good that two off-leash dogs came by and scared the kids. How the older-kid tents stayed up until 10 to see the stars, and how it was cold in the morning but you were fine.

You decline a trip to the beach in favor of playing a little Zelda with Dad. In a lovely surprise, you also get to talk on the phone to your friend Jaden from home. You mainly compare notes on Disneyland, and figure out how to not interrupt each other on a voice-only call. It’s a skill!



I make tortellini for dinner—you eat a lot—and then we soak the mud streaks off you in a long steamy shower. When you and Annie start wrestling, we declare it’s bedtime. Dad reads you Jurrasic Jeff and sits in watch until you go to sleep.

a day in your life

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

I meet you on the kitchen floor; you’re contemplating breakfast choices and hugging my legs. “Mommy is the best mommy,” you say in your niblet voice, caressing my calf stubble. I fast-forward you in my imagination so often to 11 or 12; I’m delighted to find you actually still so small.


After some mango and miniwaffles, it’s off to work. You and Annie have recently acquired two basic laptops, bedecked them with stickers, and learned how to use the printer. This is partially terrifying. You are, however, creating pretty delightful multimedia story collections, such as the epic battle of apple vs. grape. You ask Dad and I comprehension questions and allow us to hone our prediction skills with inquires about the probability each combatant will win.


(My money's on Graps---he looks meaner.)
(My money’s on Graps—he looks meaner.)

At 8:30, we load up and drive to the Scottish Rite Theater for this week’s camp, “Puppets Up!” I get you signed in, and an enthusiastic, 25-yo theater kid cheerleads you back to the group. I don’t hear much about your day, but Shae is there, so I assume there’s some jocular misbehavior along with the arts and crafts. I know what you had for lunch since I packed it: two bean and cheese tacos, frozen corn, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, and 4 tic tacs. I pick you up.

Back home, you’re onto screen number 2, logging your 30 minutes with math game Prodigy, where you achieve your LONG-HELD ASPIRATION of level 99. The word problems you’re doing on your own are at the top end of grade level 2. You’d care about this if we told you, but for now you’re just thrilled to “one shot” defeat your cartoon opponents.

We bought you a cap yesterday and it may be your new look.
We bought you a cap yesterday and it may be your new look.

Friends Elke and Olaf arrive with their mom Ingrid. Olaf is a couple years older, but he’s brought a complicated board game, so you’re clearly going to hit it off. You beg the girls to play with you and harrass them when they don’t. Resigned to fate, the adults make their way to the dining room table and digest the lengthy and specific rules. We play a few rounds, Dad’s advice on refrain: “don’t get too hung up on making all the right choices—we just need to play a bunch of rounds and make mistakes and learn.”


Eventually we eat dinner. You and Olaf take yours at the breakfast table. Game forgotten, you move on after the meal to chasing each other and the girls around the backyard, trying to put handfuls of ice down each others’ pants. Good clean summer fun.

At 7:45 we say goodbye to our friends, do a quick handwash and tooth brush, and you read me a couple letters from The Day the Crayons Quit. Then it’s time for Annie’s choice, a few pages from The Saga of Erik the Viking. Erik outsmarts a troll magician and teaches Thangbrand a lesson in leadership. You adjourn for just one more glass of water. Aware of a thunderstorm in the far distance, you move your lovies to Annie’s bed and hunker down for the night.

a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 6 years and 9 months old.

At 6:30, you join me in the living-room leather chair, dressed and ready for the morning. A glimpse of my computer screen as I close it makes you hungry to browse for toys, $14 in allowance money burning a hole in your pocket. I let you log in. You type “kid toys” into the search window, and then filter for “car,” “white,” and “Target.” Google shopping has clearly conducted user testing with 6-year-olds.

No purchases made, you move onto breakfast of mini-waffles, and then pack a lunch: blueberries, a strawberry jelly sandwich, half a lemon. Done. You attempt to sign-spell a word to me in the stairwell; it’s incomprehensible. “I’ll give you a hint: it’s similar to our relationship.” The answer: snuggles. We have a few and then head out the door.

You're briefly a niblet and leave the house on all fours.
You’re briefly a niblet and leave the house on all fours.

On the way to school we construct persuasive arguments about whether it’s better to live close to the school or close to the playground. No consensus. I charge you up with snuggles at the bridge, and you trot on ahead into school.

Dad and I pick you up together. You burst out of the gym and show us how you can jump off a high sidewalk ledge. When you see your BF’s mom coming, you insist on waiting for Jaden, for one last burst of friend frenzy. Annie and I pull ahead, and you walk home with Dad.

It’s rainy and no one’s at the park, so we do a movie night double feature, with the Muppet Movie (my choice) and Matilda the Musical (yours). You opt for some time in Dreambox, a math app from school, but the movie tractor beam eventually draws you in. When it ends, Dad carries you like a sack of potatoes to the bath.



Warm and clean, you request my least-favorite bedtime book of all time, a graphic novel based in Minecraft world, filled with nothing but battles to the death. “I like action,” you explain to me. Gar.

a day in your life

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

You arrive at my side in the living room chair at 6:35, making gentle peeping noises. You’ve gotten dressed and are ready for some morning comfort. Annie arrives a couple minutes later bearing the Norse mythology book, and we pick up where we left off the night before, with the tale of Thor and the jotun Hymir. Dad fills out a waiver for the City of Austin swim lessons you’ll start during school next week, and makes chocolate chip pancakes. We finish up The Death of Balder over breakfast.


Yesterday you and Annie received new digital watches, with pedometers, and you’re fascinated by your step count. You run in place and do laps around the kitchen island to boost your score, and we head out early on the walk to school to log as many as you can. On Sunset you hand me your backpack in order to demonstrate your top speed.

Dad and Annie catch up with us here, and we proceed to school, making our usual check of the mulberry tree for any ripe berries (still not quite). A step count check finds you with the family lead, at 1500 or so steps. Your spirits are high.


Annie asks you to stay with us on the final stretch to school instead of running ahead as you’ve begun to do. We meet your friend Dean with his mom and brother, dismounting from their bikes, and you happily hook up with them and show off your watch. You vanish ahead of us, absorbed into the student scrum.

You burst out of the gym after school, full of song, and eager to compare step counts. I’ve got an edge on you thanks to a jog, but at least you’re ahead of Annie, who studiously does not care. We rack up a few hundred more on the walk home, and you and Dad adjorn immediately for the tennis courts. Tennis is your latest obsession, and you’re out there as often as we’ll agree to a game.


You watch some videos on your tablet (the Epic app, one from school that’s full of fascinating facts about sea creatures, among other things) while Dad and I dive back under for a final round of workday. Annie opens her last birthday present, a book from Granddad and Susu that I’ve wrapped whimsically in a streamer. You chase the streamer around like a cat.

We got to Homeslice for dinner, and sit on the patio in the beautiful weather. You and I play a dozen games of tic tac toe on your kids menu, and you shape your complimentary dough ball into a person (my selection) and a little doggy (yours). We discover there is a fully-stocked ping pong table now in the back, so you get a bonus round of racket sports. Annie works on her photography skills with you as her subject.



A lemon ice tops off your tummy, and we head home for a bath. Dad executes one with major bubbles, and you get squeaky clean. He reads to you from a book about sea creatures, though you tune in now and then to Annie’s bedtime story of Ragnarok (soothing!). We say goodnight to the two of you, piled together into your bed for the final descent.

a day in your life

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

It’s Sunday, and Dad’s in charge! Today’s big adventure: the ice skating rink. You’re there at opening hour. Annie has some emotional demons to overcome, but she musters her courage, so you all make it in. The rink is in a mall Dad knows from childhood.


After the requisite skating, you pile in the car to head home. I make it home by 3 after a night away, and find you ready for more fun. Specifically, you are interested in the water balloons recently obtained from Costco. It’s over 70 by a hair, and I have some parenting to catch up on, so I agree.




Things proceed in the inevitable fashion. I agree to refill another load when all the balloon shards are accounted for, which is moderately successful at getting you to clean them up. You have a joyful time, then suddenly become hypothermic. More body fat required!

We take it easy after that. Dinner, a little TV, the usual bedtime drill. Here comes Monday, on with the week.

a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 6 and a half years old.

It’s Sunday, and sunny. You launch into the day with some snuggles and games of Pokemon on your tablet. When tablet time ends, you transition to real live chess with Granddad, who’s concluding a weekend visit.



We’re ready to move our bodies a bit, and it’s warmed up enough for a bike ride. We suit up and head out to the trail, making a visit to our Stroller Years brick. Your trail-bike etiquette continues to be top-notch, despite your occasional speed demon impulses.


For the afternoon, we’ve invited your friend (girlfriend? affianced? Annie tells me you’ve kissed ON THE LIPS) Vera over to play. You play for a bit and then are looking for a project. Vera persuades me to make her a cardboard leopard to color while you complete Valentines cards for your classmates at breakneck pace. “I LOVE YOU MAYA” is your go-to, and “I PIKA-CHOOSE YOU” for your special friends and fellow Pokemon-lovers.


The day ends quietly—or perhaps I’ve just forgotten the rest. It was a good one.

a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 6 years and 5 months old.

It’s Thursday. You decided on waffles with syrup for breakfast, and then some berries. I read a bit of Harry Potter 5 at Annie’s request, and you’re inspired to do a little playing with our Lego Hogwarts. We completed it with great triumph a few days ago, and you keep taking a few pieces off and putting them back on to replay the joy. “Mom, we’re almost done! I’m so excited to finish!”


Teeth brushed, shoes on, backpacks loaded, and we head out the door. You’ve selected your sneakers due to an upcoming footrace at recess. “The Flash team had a race today, racing Vera, so she’s NOT going to win.” Vera remains your favorite girl friend. Her team, with a few other girls, is the Boots team. Oh, and there’s also a Speedy Runners team with some of the older boys, that’s actually the fastest.


We walk to school through a beautiful sunrise, with a waning half moon presiding that you’re pretty sure you can see moving. You administer hugs to us Dad and I and head inside. It’s a normal day as far as we hear; Art with Ms. Isoline for seasoning.

Dad picks you up, and I get to see you on your way home as I head to the school for PTA. Your legs “don’t work,” so you ride piggyback most of the way. Thank goodness for strong dads.



Back at home, you and Annie take up your tablets and build worlds in Minecraft until I come home and Dad finishes his workday. Then you tear around with balloons from your chemistry sets. You blow yours up and let it fly around the kitchen while I assemble some dinner for us.

It’s tacos. Chewing, you inform us that you always use one side of your mouth for fruit, and the other one for meat and vegetables. Annie validates this as making sense for you, “fruit monster” that you are.

It’s a bath night, and we’ve recently decided that group baths have run their course, so you take your turn first. I help you dry and dress as Annie rolls through. You get settled in bed for book, vigorously protesting against more Harry Potter. A compromise is reached: a page of HP5 for Annie, and a book of your choice. Your choice is Noah’s Magic Shoes, about a boy whose new pair of shoes changes his outlook on life. We have a little extra time so round it out with the spooky A House That Once Was. You and Annie chatter for half an hour, and fall asleep.

a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 6 years and 4 months old.

A pancake breakfast cannot distract you from your disappointment that Annie is sick with a fever and will stay home from school, but you cannot. You dispute the temperature reading and insist on your own measurement. Alas, you are well.

so disappointing
so disappointing

You and I make it to school by discussing Pokemon evolutions all the way. Some consolation, anyway. We see Lino as we approach, and you hop right in line, part of the social stream.

I pick you up in the car, and we head to the grocery store to buy fruit and yogurt and things we need for the week. You’re not excited but game for it. On the drive there, I ask you to explain how to play the Pokémon card game, and you offer a very good explanation:

  1. Build a bench.
  2. Attach energy cards to your bench.
  3. If your active pokémon is strong enough, attack.
  4. “There’s a lot more, but it’s more advanced.”

This all turns out to be accurate. At Central Market, you ask for a quarter for a piece of fruit, and pick up a map of the store with a scavenger hunt. You ride in the cart and eat your apple while I pick up grapes and orange juice and mini pancakes and guacamole. You elicit a small lecture for trying and failing to throw your apple core in the trash (3 times). We get pink lemonade and chocolate mousse cups for Dad, and check out.

Back home you immediately pick up your tablet and score your 30 minutes of Prodigy. Dad whispers to me that he’s secretly set your level to second grade. I thought the word problems had gotten a lot more complicated, but you’re rolling with it. When you finish, dinner is served, and you eat your grapes and your beans and ignore the tamale and cucumber. Then Dad announces that it’s time to go to the Trail of Lights! Google has bought it out this year for their holiday party, and Dad scored a third ticket for you and Annie to both go with him. Aside from some major strife over the Ferris Wheel (you are keen to go; Annie is adamantly opposed), you have a ball.





a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 6 years and 3 months old.

You are up eeeearly on this Saturday, raring to go at 6:15. You agitate for activities; Dad and I suggest cuddling on the couch for crosswords and coffee. You grudgingly accept this offer as the best you’re likely to get. As the sun rises, you eat toasted waffles and put another layer of wrapping paper on the birthday gift you’ve made for your friend Vera (it’s a giant paper airplane—she’ll be thrilled), and make one for River, too, while you’re at it. You watch Dad do a little guitar work.


When Annie is up and about as well, you two form your team and do some wrestling on the couch. Your toys line up for RPG battles. At opening hour, Dad takes you to Costco to stock up and perhaps spend some of your latest lemonade stand money. You are extremely disappointed to find nothing you can afford with the $8 remaining to you. Annie, however, purchases a pack of baby squishmallows that form the backbone of your next project: creating an endangered squishmallow refuge. After significant infrastructure arrangement, you emerge to ernestly plead with the donor class for visits and financial support.

Dad agrees to a visit but has no cash, so you kindly issue us both a store credit card.
Dad agrees to a visit but has no cash, so you kindly issue us both a store credit card. It’s 50 cents to feed a baby squishmallow.

The afternoon wears on, and it’s time for your next social engagement: Vera’s birthday party. You add 4 small squishmallows to her gift and a giant rainbox tag: I LOVE YOU VERA PAUL. I somehow fail to take a photo of this.

We arrive at Vera’s house and discover you are the only boy invited. You are unfazed. The girls like you, and I like their moms. Vera has made plans to marry you. We have a nice couple of hours.

scrambling for pinata treats
scrambling for pinata treats

Back at home, you don’t look so hot. You’re coughing in that complicated way you have that makes me picture every little bronchiole in your lungs, and your temperature is a little high. We decide stay home from dinner with the Crowders in favor of couch snuggles. You play Prodigy and casually execute some algebra (10 + 8 = __ + 5) while I read and take your temperature every 10 minutes. It never gets bad.

I do not mind this plan at all.
I do not mind this plan at all.

We eat dinner and you take a long steamy bath. There’s enough time for one more thing, and you decide on building a robot out of plastic cups, no maybe just drawing a blueprint, no actually we’re going to make a book, about us. You are going to be the illustrator, and I’ll be the writer. What is it about? YOU can decide, Mom. But NO PROBLEMS and NOTHING BAD.


You proudly complete our project, and we’re climbing into bed as Annie and Dad arrive home. Annie joins in the bedtime routine, and I read a library book to you about Jupiter and tuck all your lovies around you. Goodnight, goober.