Let’s see how tonight goes…
On January 1, 2019, Annie climbed out of her crib, walked over to Paul’s, and coached him through his own first exit. We intercepted them, giggling, on their way to the door.
With studious practice, Annie’s knowledge of the lyrics has improved.
2017: Jingle bells, jingle bells, ALL the way. (repeat)
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.
How much fun it is tonight
With our sleighed-on friends and say, HEY!
They dance, too. (Annie: Is this how ballerinas dance? Paul: I’m a ballerino!)
To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 4 months old.
You wake up cheerful, and I pluck you out of bed. As has become your custom since we introduced pajamas into our routine, you do not want to get dressed, melting quickly down into a screeching wreck at the mere prospect. I carry you and your clothes downstairs and around the kitchen as you wail.
“Can you use your words, Paul?”
With heroic effort, you take a deep breath and ask, hiccuping, “Can you, put my clothes, back upstairs?”
We compromise and I tuck them out of sight in a chair, so that you can attend to your yogurt and grapes un-offended by the prospect of pants. Peace returns.
When Dad and Annie arrive, you appeal to him regarding wearing pajamas at school, and he authorizes you to remain in your penguin shirt. I coax you into your jeans with an explanation about tough pants being needed for the playground. We finish off your outfit with a couple of hair clips and are out the door.
You cling to me at Panda’s drop-off, resisting the allure of painting and home center, but after two big hugs for me, one for Annie, and one for each of my legs, you find your way to the next activity. Today’s big adventure is spending time on the big-kid playground while the small one has work done. You share it with Annie and find each other at playtime. A new student assistant manages to put your afternoon diaper on inside out, and you wear it that way for hours, resulting in damp pants but no catastrophes.
It’s Wednesday, and Shanna brings you home. You generously offer her gnawed-on pieces of your dinner—such a good sharer. You play in the living room, pushing around your shopping cart filled with your bicycle helmet, odds and ends.
Soon it’s time for bath, book, and bed, the routine only slightly disturbed by a low-battery chirp out of the downstairs smoke alarm, that sends Sous into her panic routine. Untroubled, you drift off to sleep. Goodnight, Mr. Paul.
To Annie: this is what happened the day you turned 3 years and 8 months old.
At 6am, Paul goes on a crying jag that brings Dad in the room for comfort. You seize on the opportunity for a potty trip while he’s handy, then go back to sleep hard. When we push into the bedroom at 7:35, we wake you.
You head downstairs in your pajamas, climb into your chair, and consider the blueberries I have arranged into a smiley face. “Blue berries, Annie!” Paul exclaims, and you take little bites of them to show me how the insides are NOT blue, but ARE the same, berry to berry. You proceed to your banana yogurt while we make the toast.
I coax you into your dress for the day, but you DO NOT CONSENT to our pant selection. I implore your mercy. You request a different pair, and we proceed. I buckle you in the car and wave goodbye as Dad takes you to school. Until Riverside, you loudly mourn the fact you had not told me to “have a nice day.”
At school, you carry Paul’s diaper supply to his teachers, and bid him farewell. Dad drops you in the Owls with your 4th water bottle of the year. We suspect there is a ditch on the playground where you have been dumping them.
I hope you have a good day. You have become very fond of your teachers, especially Ms. Nomi, and your classmate Winnie seems to have finally replaced Isabella in your triumvirate of friends. I pick you up at 4:30 or so; you’re climbing on the playground structure and find me as I’m hugging Paul off a swing.
We obtain cracker snacks and are about to get into the car when you declare you have to go potty. We head back inside and make a shockingly efficient trip back to your classroom, where you kindly suggest the toy Paul can play with and make sure it’s back on the shelf before we go.
In the car, you remember the line of nursing students we once saw streaming down a long sidewalk—wow, was it only two months ago??—and ask where they’ve gone. You and Paul negotiate some disagreements about music volume, and I remember to appreciate how much less you two just shout over each other’s words now than you used to, when Paul had just found his voice.
You clamour out of the car and into the house. Dinner is not quite ready, so we sit on the couch and watch family pictures cycle through the new Google product Dad has introduced into the living room. Access to a special fork (a single, purchased foolishly when there was only one of you) causes strife, even removed from the choice set, and you and Paul both want the red plastic fork that remains. Dad pushes you to work it out, and you graciously concede and take the yellow fork instead. Peace reigns. I teach you how to pick up your pasta (don’t just stab—stick-slide-scoop). We all learn and grow.
After dinner and with clean hands, you sit on my lap at the piano where I bang out Rudolf in exactly the same halting pace my mom did. You call it “Rudolf the Red Reindeer” and have loved it since you heard it at the Capitol tree lighting a week or so ago. It’s your carol of the year, I think. (Last year’s was “Jingle bells, jingle bells, ALL the way…”)
You discover new presents under the Christmas tree. OMG. They have arrived in the mail from Debbie and Bianca, and you correctly read your name on yours. You caress it, carry it around, play with its string, and generally risk loving the package to death two weeks before you get to open it. I extricate you from the loops you’ve used to fashion it into a backpack before you bring it straight into the tub.
We have a relatively joyful bubble bath, and you hurry into your pajamas to warm up and watch an episode of Daniel Tiger (today’s lesson: when you’re upset, you can find a way to feel better). For a bedtime book you select The Gruffalo but express regret on the way to bed for not picking the Jeanie book, which you just discovered and we read several times over the weekend.
Your last questions are in a morbid vein as you continue to grapple with death. I do my best to be honest without completely freaking you out. I think there’s a lot more of this in our future.