a day in your life

To Anne: this is how you spent the day you turned 4 years and 11 months old.

You wake up slowly and in the dark thanks to the recent time change, the pointlessness of which stands out to us all. The morning routine is pretty painless today. You retry your glittery shoes I bought in a fit of despair about you never wearing shoes again. You love them but they itch so you hate them. This choice later causes you grief on the playground when Ms. Liz requires you to keep them on.

Dad takes you to school, per our new routine with my new job: he’s on drop-off; I’m on pick-up. You sail into your class like the queen.

You create imaginary worlds with June in “Dramatic Play Center,” and discuss how germs spread with your class because, well, there’s a global pandemic. We’re happy to observe you washing your hands while counting to 20.

Annie and June
Annie and June
Ms. Liz explains how germs spread. Topical.
Ms. Liz explains how germs spread and how to wash your hands. Topical. 

I pick you up and play stories on the way home. My own storytelling well finally ran dry, and I downloaded four different stories-for-kids podcasts. Our favorite is Circle Round, where they do well-produced versions of folk tales from all over the world. I tell myself there’s some cultural literacy built in. We listen to “The Dozen Loaves of Bread” about a generous baker with ungrateful customers.

Dad has made chicken for dinner, which you don’t eat. We spend a lovely late evening on a “run” through the park. We pass under the bridge by our creek, where a neighbor? random music lover? frustrated SXSW performer? has taken to playing the guitar. You and Paul run to the bench by the creek where neighbors tend tend plants and place renegade Buddha statues. We cross the bridge and snake behind your future elementary school for a romp on the playground. We find that someone else has painted and left their own “love rocks” on the trail.You walk Sous all the way home.

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Bedtime is a little prolonged (thanks again, time change!). Dad tells the latest in his Smaug series, and we say goodnight.

over it

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I feel like this is one of those “extend the pattern” games, and all that’s missing is a shot from age 13. Hopefully we’ll be done with the thumb-sucking by then.

a day in your life

To Paul, this is how you spent the day you turned three and a half.

You get up at 6:30 am when thunder scares you. You and Annie run into our room, and I invite you to climb into the bed. You lean against me and watch the lightning out the window. You asked to see the “rain-yard” (radar) and I pull it up on my phone. When the storm passes I shoo you back to your bedroom, but you are very awake, so I tell you it’s okay to start on your lists if you want to and I’ll start on mine. Annie says, “I think we should play,” and that’s what you actually do.


At 7:00 you are running around to the upstairs while I make coffee. I come up and invite you to start getting ready. You deign to brush your teeth. You have put shorts on over your PJs, and I coax you into your fox sweater. Good enough. We head downstairs for a breakfast of mango chewies and banana bread. Dad is in Colorado and I have not showered—see 6:30 am thunderstorm—so I tell you and Annie you get to play while I get myself ready. You get your scissors from the cabinet and cut a piece of construction paper into tiny shards.

While I get dressed you play hide and seek. I count to 10 while you hide in the laundry basket. “I’m hiding here,” you tell me as you crawl in. I find you immediately. We do this a few times. You and Annie head downstairs to play with fire trucks while I brush my teeth. I grab the vitamins and you carry your shoes out to the car, walking barefoot in the freezing rain on principle.


In the car on the way to school, we listen to an episode of Story Pirates, a podcast involving theatrical renditions of stories submitted by children. This one, “My Family Are Tigers,” is a favorite. Then Annie tells us a long story about Laura the Giganotosaurus, and has me repeat every line after her. You ask what road signs say, and I tell you.

At school you ask me to help you put your shoes on before you get out of the car. Great choice, I tell you. We had inside and drop Annie in the All Stars before heading to the Owls. There you invite me to many hugs and to fetch you a paper towel for your breakfast. Silas is there already so you are pretty ready to join him at the breakfast table.


I’m not sure what you get up to at school, but Charly tells me when she picks you up, you are covered in mud head to toe. You ask her to take you to the treat store, but she declines due to poor listening exhibited during the last visit. And you say, “Maybe we next time we can go because we’ll be good tonight.” Your negotiation skills are coming right along.

She ask you to rinse off the layers of sand while she makes dinner. You eat and head upstairs for a bath. Once your PJs are on, she asks you to go downstairs and clean up your toys and you do. She says you made everything easy tonight. When I get home at 8:30 you are sound asleep. Today you are three and a half.


a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 4 years and 10 months old.

You and Paul are up and playing diligently at five till seven. Dad knocks on your door at 7:10 and, through the door, reminds you to work in some morning-list items while you’re at it.

I love this shot.
I love this shot.

You chirp back, “We went potty and washed hands!” We take you at your word. After a few more minutes, we insert ourselves to achieve the bare minimum to get downstairs, to our usual healthy breakfast of hot buttered toast, pancakes, and dried mango. No meal is complete these days without listening to the 1950s narration of The Pokey Little Puppy, so of course we do that.

Dad drives you to school, and you read road signs on the way. There, you race in without a backward glance.

Principal Paula visits your class to read a book. “Yes,” you later confirm. “Dmitri. It’s about, um, peace. No, friendship. But it gets a little wild in the middle,” you add with a chuckle.

At lunch, chili burns your mouth, but you persevere. You like the way they serve broccoli. Your whole class makes leopard masks, headbands, and tails, which you model for us later.

Picturing your whole class running around in masks like this is, I admit, a little scary.
Picturing your whole class running around in masks like this is, I admit, a little scary.
"Mom, can you get out of here please?" (P.S. That kid stage right is Moses, and he's your first crush.)
“Mom, can you get out of here please?” (P.S. That kid stage right is Moses. He is your first crush.)

I arrive at four, and you’re in block center as usual, telling me you didn’t even get to play for 20 minutes!! I offer to get Paul first, and you accept. When we come in, you wrap up your imagined story and grab items from your art cubby. You race down the hall barefooted, and out into the 50-degree drizzle.

In the car you ask for a story “about the hyenas and giraffes and wolves—” “And lions!” Paul adds. “Yeah, lions!” you agree. “And dogs and leopards and black panthers—” “And turtles and dinosaurs!” And, and, and… And so I am inspired to tell you the story of Noah’s Ark. You are into it. 40 days and 40 nights, all the animals, two by two, and the dove with a spring of leaves in its beak. We gloss over everyone else’s death by drowning.

We arrive at home to find Aunt Camei! Hello! You are shy for 15 seconds and then inviting her up to see your new bookshelves, and to lifeguard you and Paul jumping off your beds. Then she MUST hear The Shy Little Kitten, and then you ask her to put on “Old Town Road” once, and again, and again, and then it’s blasting on repeat in the TV room while you sing and dance, and Paul is swinging pillows at you until you yell in protest, and it’s the best and worst moment in your whole life.

Dinner is pan pizza (YUM), which you nibble at. Then we’re back upstairs, looking for clues to the whereabouts of Holly Shiftwell. We track her through the bedrooms, quite the pair of sleuths. Paul tags in as playmate, and you’re off and running. We close the evening with a relaxing game of car wash, wherein Dad gets in table pose on his hands and knees, you crawl under him, and he lowers his belly onto you and shakes you back and forth. Just the thing to settle you down for bedtime.

We coax you through tooth-brushing and into storytime. Your pick is a scratch-and-sniff book based on a Nickelodeon show we’ve never watched. I make a silent vow to hide it in the Goodwill pile when you’re not paying attention. I ask what kind of story you want, and you and Paul decide to take turns telling your own. No objections from me! I tuck Paul in while you close us out with an elaborate tale of a magical, multi-generational leopard family. “Their ancestors were STILL ALIVE, even from ROMAN TIMES! …Mom, do I have ancestors?”

I say goodnight. You emerge for a band-aid. Paul comes out needing to pee. Dad checks the monitor and notices he’s in your bed, and intervenes. Paul needs pants, and a hug, and one more drink of water. You’re thirsty, too. Okay, guys. Goodnight.