To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 18 months old.
It’s an unusually quiet morning—you and Annie are typically yodeling by 7. Today, we head in at 7:35 to find you fast asleep in child’s pose, butt raised high. I pat you on the back, and you turn over, see us, and smile. You stand right up and present yourself to Dad to be lifted up.
Changed and dressed, you listen to me read another fabulous Mercy the Pig book while we get Annie in the same state. Then it’s a hustle through the freezing air to Dad’s warm car, where he’s loaded a cup full of banana, cheese, and toast, with a bonus chewable vitamin at the bottom. Win.
It’s a normal day. You sit down to a second breakfast with Shanna in the Sea Turtles. You nap. You play. You eat all the fruit within reach. At 5:30, Annie and I roll in to pick you up. She hands you a snack for the road—three saltines—and you call for your sweater.
You identify all the pick-up trucks we pass on the way home: “SHRUHH??” You’re quite the enthusiast these days. For variety, we blow raspberries at each other, and you peruse Goodnight Moon, still a favorite. “Dah boo?” (The book. I think. “Boo” also means cow and moon.)
At 6, we’re walking in the house for dinner by Dad. There’s a lot to like: orange slices, cherry tomatoes, and a banana I’ve promised you and your sister to maintain peace in the car. You decline the lasagna until I play the game we’ve just developed and I’m not sure how I feel about. (I call it “baby bird”: I offer you food on a fork. You shake your head no. I put it in my mouth. You yell in demand. I remove it from my mouth, offer it to you again, and you eat it enthusiastically. I could also call it “poison tester.”) Anyway, you end up eating your lasagna.
No episode of lasagna ends without a good bath! Dad gets you in there and clean. You play cheerfully for a few minutes, then announce your readiness for pick-up. Dad towels you dry, and you march your naked butt over to me with a book to read. Determined to finish the job, Dad scoops you up and gets you diapered and shirted, and you march around while we hang a coat rack on your wall. I help you through a few shoe changes, just for fun.
We gather coats and hats to try out the new rack. You have serious qualms about hanging your beloved bear hat in a new location. I take you back downstairs to return it to its accustomed spot, but after some processing, you make your peace with its new home.
You and Annie squeeze into my lap for I Stink and, sweet Jesus, Mercy Pig again. You’re awfully cuddly, though, so I don’t really mind.
Dad scoops you up as the lullaby begins, and zips you into your sleep sack. “Love you love you love you,” he says, and scoots out the door. I give you a little tummy rub and follow. Night night, Mr. Paul!
When you are 21-and-2, and Miles is 30 and seems SO old, I want you to know that he spoke in your toddler language, and ran all around, and bounced on your ridiculous elephant toy, and followed all of your 2-year-old instructions. You go way back. WAY back.
To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 10 months old.
You and Paul wake up around 7 and squeal at each other until we retrieve you. You pick out some undies and insist on threading your legs in by yourself. (I intervene on attempt #3 and get you sorted out.) Downstairs we go for breakfast. You peel off the top of your yogurt and Paul’s, and the room falls silent as you both spoon it into your mouths. A round of hot buttered toast finishes breakfast.
You’re delighted it’s a “home day” (it’s Saturday), and soon have me following you to the Bumblebees class at school in our usual game of pretend. You’re my mom, and you leave me at school, where I am encouraged to cry for you. We pause the game to read Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes. (I will confess to you now that I am SICK of Mercy the pig. But you love her, so.)
Dad is ready to get on with our morning walk, so you and I head upstairs to get me dressed. You put on flip flops. When told you must also wear pants to leave the house, you stage a grand mal tantrum. We manage to strap you into the stroller but are so distracted we leave the house without wallets or phones. A few blocks down the street, Dad runs back for them.
We head north on Congress and cross the bridge, then hit the trail. You do a little grumbling—you’d much prefer to walk than ride these days—but mainly keep it together. We cross the river again on the pedestrian bridge, and then you’re free to run around through Butler Park. We watch a train pass and check the pond for turtles (none today). We walk over a hill, and you help Paul stay on course.
At the end of the park, it’s back into the stroller and up the Bouldin hill toward the taco truck. We call in just behind a big order, so take our time in the home stretch, stopping for another run-around in a little neighborhood Dawson Park. You swing (big-kid style) and find a stick with which to smack things.
At the taco truck, you and Paul do a tremendous amount of hugging as we wait for our food, melting hearts all around. You polish off your “dinosaur taco” (bacon, egg, and
spinach bits of real dinosaur), and we head home.
We load you and Paul into your separate carts at Central Market, and begin to shop. You weigh the broccoli for us and request some bell peppers I am sure you will not eat but purchase anyway because I’m a pushover. Better hauls for you are grapes, cherries, and strawberries. We spend some time with the lobsters, and select some cherry yogurt. You help put the groceries on the conveyor belt and pay with the credit card, and home we go.
Inside, you climb immediately into your chair. “I’m waiting for my yogurt,” you inform us, and eat it. “I have to go poop,” you announce, and Dad sits with you in the bathroom. You wash your hands, naked from the waist down, and when I tell you not to bother getting your undies back on because we’ll put a diaper on for nap, you shriek and cry again. I carry you upstairs while you practice your baby wailing. The opportunity to turn on the noise machine and turn down the lights mollifies you, and you go to bed fairly peacefully.
You’re back in action at 2. You set up a cozy nest on the floor and help sign a birthday card for our friend Poppy’s first. “This is a perfect A for her. Dear Poppy, for her birthcake. … I’m almost done. I need to draw a big one for her cause it’s a big birthcake.”
We head for Pinthouse Pizza, where you eat six tiny cupcakes before I cut you off, and play Donkey Kong with Dad. You’re disturbed by the picture on the side of the machine, which features a giant gorilla making off with a blonde lady. Retro. “She’s crying,” you tell me, concerned.
Full of pizza and cupcakes, we head home at 5 and collapse in front of the television. Totoro takes care of us all.
A ruptured blister from your flip flops thwarts a bath. I remove you screaming from the tub, and we focus on your face and hands. At 6:45, you and I are snuggled in Mom-and-Dad’s bed, and read Laundry Day, Brown Bear, and A Snowy Day. Paul stomps in, curious why we aren’t in your room yet, and joins us for the last. You protest bedtime, and I again distract you with the promise of turning off the lights and on the noise machine. “Hold my hand,” you demand, once you’re tucked in, and you take it captive. I gently extract it, stroke your hair, and say goodnight.
Annie is starting to understand the past and the future. “Yesterday” is anything that happened in the past, and “tomorrow” is when everything in the future will occur.