Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Letter to (Five Year and Three Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton, 

Summer is in full swing in Brookyln and you are quite enjoying it. You've been to the public pool and we visit the sprinkler area of the park at least a few times a week. We've gone to street fairs and festivals and farmer's markets. You seem to be enjoying it all. 

We found a tire swing at a new park and you loved it so much. It reminded me of the one Mickey rigged up when Cookie and I were little. I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood and I hope these in the city are special ones for you. 

You are tentative about the pool. You want me to by very close before you jump and you really aren't interested in kicking or blowing bubbles so much as letting someone hold you on their hip in the water. We're a little late on the game this Summer, but next Summer the goal is to make a swimmer out of you. It will be significantly easier if we're back in Mississippi. 

We have a lot of fun around the city, but the days Papa works are mostly days at home for us. You are so creative and eager to use your imagination. 

One of yours and Graves's favorite things to play is "circus". Awhile back, you created a bunch of signs alerting where the acrobats get dressed and where the exit is (our front door). You  also created signage for yours and Graves's room to remind Graves not to climb on the toy cabinet or get in his window.

[As an interesting aside I had cautioned Graves about not standing in the window and he said "I not stand in the window and fall out and die". Then you told me that you've been repeating this to him a lot and explained to him what dying is ("you lay on the ground and don't get up:). Glad you were able to drive the point home for us. You two balance each other well- your intensity and his impulsiveness seem to work well together.

I'm always amazed at how much you love to "play pretend". You guys have plenty of toys, but more often than not they're of little interest except as they aid in your imaginative play. 

One afternoon in your room you told me. "Let's play car. You're the grandma. You ride in the back with the babies. We're going to the beach. No, Oxford. In Mississippi that night we went to Mary Milton's Papa told me the bad weather was in OXFORD. That's Ole Miss. Which is where football is." Seeing my surprise at the recollections you told me "I'm smart." [The last football game we went to was when she was two.] Every day, you and your brother manage to show me that you're both amazing and challenging in totally different ways.

You also love to craft. My favorite craft in recent weeks was when you had me cut some small hearts out of little squares of paper you had cut out. You then taped them together and made them into little glasses. You attached them to your crown (another project) and wore them around for a couple of days. 

  • We also do school during naptime on the days Papa works. We're a bit over halfway through with your first phonics book and you are READING REAL WORDS. You know you're in a sweet spot when your five year old reads for the first time in the afternoon and asks to be rocked that night. I absolutely love the stage that you're in. 
Another day our creative endeavor of the day included making Baby Kitty a cloth diaper with a baby wipe and tape. You then put her in your fuzzy pink backpack and proclaimed it was her "carrier". 

I put one of those hooded (baby) bath towels on you after a bath one night- it was a duck. When I came in your room you were sitting on the plastic eggs from your play kitchen, totally nake, quacking loudly and saying you were hatching them. When you got tired of that you decided you would be a penguin and demanded Graves come sit on them because we recently learned that's part of the job description for papa penguins.

Subway maps are your favorite thing. I can't wait to tell you later that you learned to read a complex little grid before you learned to read English. You notice trains and maps and signs a lot. Graves notices people and bodies more. You guys are fascinating in what you observe. 

That said, you notice people and bodies some. We had to change Graves's diaper in a discrete area of the park and you followed us and started drawing the procedure w/ chalk. You drew everything and then put an "x" through it and said "I drew his penis too big". 

You are so much like me, I keep discovering. You know the little starchy things that can kind of congeal on pasta in the fridge? You found it the other night and freaked. I offered to put cheese on your spaghetti and you said "There's nothing you can do that will make me want to eat this now". Also, you got so irritated when I tried to rush you when you were trying to tear off the toilet paper along the perforated seam. Basically, you're me.

And a lot of time you think you're the momma, I'm afraid. You told me a few weeks ago: "I don't think "we" should do potty training this way anymore. It shouldn't be a treat every time, it should be ONE treat at the end of the day if he doesn't have any accidents. A treat every time is NOT HEALTHY". [By the way, it's a TINY cookie and he always, ALWAYS splits it with you.

It's amazing to me all the things you process and understand. The other day you undressed your little bear from the waist up and said "Momma bear isn't wearing a shirt. She looks like she's from a different culture." Papa had discussed this at the Natural History Museum with you and Graves when they saw women represented in some of the exhibits not wearing tops. I asked what culture Momma Bear was from and you said "One of those not wearing clothes cultures."

A different day you told me "When I grow up, I'm going to be a momma-veterinarian. And I'm sure the papa will stay at home with the babies." "The papa?"  I asked. "My husband!", you exclaimed. Well then, Little Miss Egalitarian. I will say that, as hard as it is in away because it means that I'm losing control, I'm so glad you are beginning to see that the world is bigger than our little household and our very own culture. 

We are watching you grow in faith and experience it in a whole new way. Graves was making slurping sounds and saying "I just drink your blood" one day. I (horrified) asked him where he learned that and was totally thinking zombies. You told me "I'm sure he's thinking about the Passover". Still being the dense mom I am, I said "the blood on the DOOR?" And you said "No! The Passover with Jesus. He told his friends about drinking his blood". [I'm pretty sure that between the cultural identification of Momma Bear and the liturgical sentiments you made papa very proud that day.]

We have a children's Bible that talks about Jesus taking away people's "badness" and you told me one night that you knew another word for badness and I asked you what it was. You said "sin" and I asked you how it was taken away and you said "Jesus on the cross did it". I'm so, so happy to watch these connections happen. It is one of the great joys of my life to watch, in tiny increments, as you begin to understand the Gospel. 

You and Graves went to Creative Arts Camp at Calvary-Saint George's and you were so excited. I told you before it that we were going to be talking about Joseph and you had me clarify "Joseph, Jesus's papa or Joseph and the brothers". You found the story in one of your little Bibles and said "This is the Joseph we're going to learn about tomorrow!".

I've stopped with the smocked dresses EVERY Sunday. You still love them, but honestly you have some cute dresses that are really too dressy for every day wear and I didn't want you to miss them. I'm not going to lie, it was HARD to let that go. 

A couple of times Papa has taken Graves to church early to watch children while people set up. We've had a great time taking the bus together and walking hand and hand just us. I've loved those moments with just you at my side. 

Truthfully, I love most every moment with you by my side. There are arguments and you've gotten so stubborn lately and sometimes your endless stream of questions is exhausting, but these are the best days of my life and your are a huge contributer to that. I love you so much, my sweet girl.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your dress is a 4T. 

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