This is a few weeks old now. He walks a little better, but he squeaks just the same.
I’ll know the kids have reached a developmental milestone the day they don’t stuff every morsel of fruit into their mouths before even considering a bite of something else on their plates. I swear Paul just inhaled tonight and disappeared a whole pile of peaches.
To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 11 months old.
You sound firmly awake at 6:45, so Dad airlifts you out and hands you to me for your bottle.
You come up for air and give me a big grin. Seven teeth now. I change your diaper, and Dad entertains you with assorted household objects while I get myself and Annie ready to go. You’re very into exploring the world now, examining objects and combining them in different ways. (You’re pretty convinced, for example, that the remote control belongs in Sous’ water bowl.)
We get the whole family downstairs by 7:30, and you and Annie sit at the counter and eat bananas.
Dad carries you to the car to load up, and you blow him kisses as he says goodbye. I drive the two of you to school while you emit occasional squeals of joy and rage. You and Annie blow kisses to each other and giggle, and she says things like, “Oh Missa Paul that’s YOU!”
You perch on my hip as we drop off Annie and furrow your brow as I hand you over to your teacher Leah.
By all reports, you have a great day at school, particularly relishing the canned pears at lunch. You finish every portion and look around expectantly for more. You have a good long mid-day nap. (At home, you still take a morning and afternoon nap, but at school we’re lucky if you get a couple of hours.)
I pick you up a few minutes before 5 while Annie waits with Shanna, her teacher and, as of a few weeks ago, your Wednesday night sitter. Shanna will start bringing you home on these evenings so is here to observe the pick-up and car-loading drill. I carry you to the car and buckle you in while Annie stands carefully in the crook of the door; then I walk her around to her side and buckle her in.
You get upset with the sun in your eyes on the way home, but Annie cheers you up by speaking to you in your language. “HA BA, DA! HA BA, DA!” Soon, you’re laughing at each other, and my sappy, Mom heart is glowing.
At home, you sit in your high chair and snack on a tortilla while Dad and Shanna install a second car seat in her car. You show off your elephant-pushing skills as Dad and I wave goodbye and go out for grown-up dinner.
You head upstairs to play with duplo trucks. You drink half a bottle and take a bath. Annie selects your tie-dyed onesie for your pajamas, and Shanna reads you a book and tucks you in with a song at 7:30. Night night, Mr. Paul.
To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years, 3 months old.
It’s Monday. Dad extracts a hungry Paul from your room at 6:45, and you let out barely a whimper as he says over his shoulder, “Annie, nap.” At 7:30, we head back in for you, and find you blinking yourself awake, holding your baby doll.
You open your window shade and look out, asking about your swimming pool—an inflatable monstrosity in which we spent most of Saturday. Informed that it’s under the carport, you ask to see it, a desire which powers you through your diaper change and shoe administration. I carry you downstairs and onto the back deck, and you are comforted to find the pool in place though, alas, empty of water. I point out your window in the house and explain why you couldn’t see the pool from your room, information you absorb quietly.
Back in the kitchen, I peel a banana and put it in a cup with a chewable vitamin—your standard on-the-go breakfast. We head for the car, and I buckle you in while Dad attends to Paul.
“Annie see bumblebee Missa Paul?” you inquire on the road. On Friday, you accompanied Dad to drop Paul in the infant classroom (The Bumblebees) since your own teacher wasn’t in the room when you arrived. Apparently this was interesting to you. Dad agrees that you can join him again, and you spend the rest of the ride chanting, “Annie see Missa Paul bumblebees cassroom!”
At school, you amble to the door and wait while Dad takes off his shoes and Paul spits up on him. Paul’s teachers invite you in, but you demur, preferring to observe silently at the threshold. As you head to your own classroom, you discuss how Paul is a Bumblebee and Annie is a Sea Turtle. Back on familiar ground, you plop right down in your chair for breakfast while Dad contributes some books to the bookshelf. You wave him off without a backwards glance.
It’s a normal day at school. Mid-day, your teacher Shanna emails us your official “toddler assessment form” certifying you have the skills required to advance to the next class. “Moves body to achieve goals. Uses words to participate in simple conversations.” Check and check. You’ll transition to a new class on August 1—quite a milestone.
Dad picks you and Paul up at 5, and you burst back onto the home scene, baby doll in hand, just in time for dinner. You eat two cherry plums and, after a bit of protesting that you want PASTA NOT NOODLES, pasta. I fork some into your mouth to get you going.
We adjourn to the living room, and I narrate the pictures in A Birthday for Frances, one of your current favorites. We’re all hanging out in the living room when who arrives but Charly! She’s on her way home from her new job and has brought you a(nother) present from her mom: a little squeeze-ball cow and some snapshots of her own cows in a field. You are thrilled. “Thank you Charly’s mom,” we prompt you to say, and you give Charly a hug, then proceed to raid her purse for wallet and car keys and pretend to head out the door.
We say goodbye to Charly and head up for a bath. As I’m scrubbing you down, you suggest “I go pee-pee maybe?” You prefer the big potty to your little one, and wrap your arms around my neck while we wait to see if you produce anything. You do not. Back in the tub you go for the rest of the bath, then dry off and get a fresh diaper and new dress.
We’ve got lots of time left to play, so it’s a bit of the tent-and-tunnel, some duplo trucks, and darts. Good fun. We wrap things up with a game of your invention, wherein you run back and forth across the room, flinging yourself on cushions at one end and hugging me at the other. I could play it all night.
But bedtime beckons. You are never anxious to go to bed, but Dad begins a slow read of The Going to Bed Book, and you resign yourself to it. He hoists you into your crib and runs down for Paul’s sleep sack while I try—and fail—to soothe you both with our lullaby. Once we manage our goodnight, though, you settle down quickly and are soon asleep. Phew.
I already hear her beginning to listen closely and correct herself, so before it’s gone forever, let me note for the record that Annie says (and sings) “Happy Birthcake” instead of Happy Birthday. She’s focused on what matters most.
Pope Francis issued some practical moral guidance a few months ago that has stuck with me. When confronted with a panhandler, give. Always give.
Also, touch their hand and look them in the eye and recognize their humanity.
Since reading this, I have done none of it. But I think about it, and I appreciate that there is a moral authority offering me this sort of relevant, day-to-day guidance, and then I look sideways at myself, like, really? You’re listening to the Pope now?