Wednesday, December 10, 2014

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

Dear Annie,

I'm really behind on these, so the things I'm about to tell you happened about two months ago. Obviously, by the time you read these (if you choose to), that won't make a difference, but I had to note it.

Prospect Park, the wedding, Halloween. Some of the amazing things you got to experience in October were Prospect Park in the Fall, Cookie's wedding, and Halloween.

Prospect Park is so beautiful and you seem to appreciate it as much as a five year old possibly can. You love to go on nature hikes and see the waterfall and you LOVE to go to the big open field and just run and run. It sort of surprises me that you enjoy that so much, because you're not a super energetic child but I think you appreciate big open spaces in the city and it seems like it does you so good to be out in one.

Halloween was wonderful this year. We took y'all trick-or-treating around our neighborhood, which actually has a reputation of being awesome on Halloween. This year Papa and I dressed up, too. Papa was the Wicked Witch, Graves was one of his evil monkeys, you were Glenda, and I was Dorothy's red slipper. It was a fun night.

Of course, all that pales in comparison to your aunt's wedding. She was beautiful and you and Graves did amazing with your duties (flower girl and ring bearer, respectively). It was such a beautiful, magical time and I'll remember it forever and your huge part in it.

Obviously, the wedding necessitated a trip to Mississippi, and we were very thankful for it. We had a great flight there with you guys and y'all were troopers because we had such a busy, crazy schedule the weeks we were there. 

When we got there, DeeDee and Grandpa Randy had the room ya'll were staying in set up with adorable new dinosaur and mermaid sleeping bags, a pile of books, your own little suitcases, and a couple of new outfits. Such a fun surprise for y'all since you guys don't get to spend birthdays and Christmas with their grandparents during this season.

Papa was home in Mississippi with us for about a week and a half and then he flew back to Brooklyn to work and you and Graves and I stayed another week and a half. We moved over to Mickey and Minnie's and set up house there! 

So, you love to turn over a storage cube and set up a "nightstand" up here so you were thrilled to have a real table at Mickey and Minnie's. You set up a cow kitchen timer as an "alarm clock". It was really cute and clever. We are talking about the possibility of a two day school when we move back. We discussed it with you and you were adamant that you wanted to do your naptime "activities" like coloring before school. Papa said he'd wake you up early but not like fight you to get up. I think it's so funny because I know what will happen. Papa will gently wake you up. You'll run to get her coloring done and probably fix your breakfast and then Bud and I will get up. Papa said he as going to get you a little alarm clock, so I know that's where you got the idea to snag the kitchen timer! 

While we were there, Graves got scared of the half naked Jim Morrison poster in Cookie's room. You were so sweet and said "Bud it's just art. He can't talk or anything. Just try not to look at him anymore".

You guys also staged your own little wedding. Y'all dressed up in hats and lace nightgowns and Graves gave you a great big kiss. After the smooch, there was a small reception and then onto the beach for your "honeymoon". There was a wardrobe change into y'alls "bathing suits" (twenty five year old Colonel Reb boxers that you picked) and a real swimsuit of mine dating back to circa 1990. 

Mississippi also brought wheelbarrow rides and time to play on your very own swingset in the toasty October afternoon sun. You guys discovered Mickey's secret sanctuary where his made-by-his-own-hands Adirondack chairs sit and lounged in them as we watched probably the last ski of the season on the lake in front of their house. You dressed up in handmade costumes and ate roasted corn with your cousins while we visited with your other aunt and uncle. 

You got a "Snow White haircut"- a bob that fell just above your shoulders. [You did ask if we were going to dye it black like Snow White, too. Um, no. We aren't that authentic.] It's so cute and sassy and suits you to a tee. I struggled with cutting it because I felt your long hair was so sweet and very little girlish. I had long hair for until I was pretty old and it just seems so classic to me, while a bob seemed sort of mature. And I knew we'd be trading in big bows for little clips and headbands. Like I said though, it fits you perfectly. It still looks cute and sweet and Southern. I actually love it. In one way I think you look more grown up. But other times, I think it makes you look more like a baby. You face seems so much rounder and and it reminds me of the days before your hair even grew long. Another benefit is that I feel like it has a bit of a retro feel. Nothing like a shoulder length page boy. [P.S. Snow White is my favorite princess and her hair has a good bit to do with it, I think.]

I actually sort of had to talk you into the haircut. I persuaded you with the clips and headbands (you don't love a ponytail holder in your hair and the prospect of no more rubberbands put you over the edge). And of course I brought up Snow White. I've also had a TIME getting you to wear leggings with dresses this Winter. You are so stubborn and so analytically (um, like yours truly). You were convinced that princesses either wear leggings with a top (like Jasmine) or dresses with tights or socks (but NO PANTS). I finally had a brilliant idea and appealed to your love of all things Native American, explaining that Pocahontas did wear pants and a top. You went for it, but would only wear leggings with a dress when I braided your hair like hers. After the cut, I had to think fast and we discussed how the princesses on Frozen (which you've only seen part of with a babysitter, but are obsessed) probably have to wear leggings with everything. That worked, too. Whew. It's so nice when I can figure out how to make something work creatively without tears and discipline. 

One really painful part about our trip back was  getting to see, and having to leave, your best friend- "I don't want it to be the time we come home for a visit, I want it to be the time we move home to stay." you told me while bawling your eyes out as we left Aubrey's house. So hard, but it blesses me to see you value relationships so much. 

A funny story from Mississippi- we had been out a bunch one day and you were tired and cranky. You told me that your carseat was bothering you. I told you that we were almost back to Mickey and Minnie's. You then started arguing with me about how we should leave the car and call a tow truck to come get it and just walk home. 

You have such cute quirks and I love all of them. For the past couple of years you have been very insistent that yours and Graves's pjs coordinate in some way each night. It's fun to see how creative you can be when there isn't an obvious way to match. One night awhile back Graves was wearing gray stripes and you were wearing a top with a bird on it. You said, very matter of fact, "Momma, did you know? I'm a little pigeon and he's a man in the city".

I have to be honest. We've had some emotional struggles lately. But I'm watching you learn to navigate things better and better and with less and less help from me. I will admit that one afternoon during Graves's rest time we snuggled up under a quilt and had a great conversation about ways we can handle our (angry) emotions better because neither of us did a great job of that earlier that day. 

While we were in Mississippi you had a few hard bouts, too. You were bawling in the backseat one afternoon (so tired, so stressed). This was because I didn't want you to wear your "bride dress" (Minnie's forty five year old negligee) over your real clothes to DeeDee and Grandpa Randy's house.  "But they're my grandparents" you contended and I relented. You were already strapped in your car seat, so I said you could put it on when we arrived. You sobbed and I got angry. Then you told me I had to obey her. I, of course, cleared that up...and got angrier. Then you said "It's up to you to take care of the things I need because I'm your little girl." I still didn't pull over, but it changed the direction of my heart toward you and my tone, subsequently. I don't know where I'm going with this. But the whole thing seemed like a conversation with a much older person (minus the manic sobs).

Our last day there was especially difficult. You told me so many times that she wants to go back to New York, but not yet or that you wanted to take your "Jackson friends" with you. That night you cried for a solid hour over something that was (to me) very silly (a really large, heavy flashlight I wouldn't let you hold in the bed). I tried to help you think of solutions for a bit and then just held you while you sobbed. Finally, you came up with your own solution. It was the first time you've ever done that when you've been so worked up. I know doing it the way I do isn't for everyone and it's been really hard at times, but I got my reward that night, watching you problem solve through tears and exhaustion.

One thing about the trip that really burdened me was your conflicting emotions. You're a resiliant child and you have thrived in both places, so I know you'll be okay. But it's hard watching you process it all. 

One night you told us that you wanted to stay in NYC and not move back for good. I asked you why and you said you didn't like her bedroom in MS as much. We talked more and you said it's because you'll have even MORE toys to put up than in Brooklyn (we had left some things in Mississippi). We discussed and you said you'd be so happy if we put some of your toys in the attic and rotated them. Needless to say, your papa was PROUD!

Another hard part of our wonderful time was being apart from Papa for the second half of the trip. I really think you did fine mostly because we stayed pretty busy and it really kicked in once we got back. At the airport you were SO sweet and funny- like a little lovesick puppy. You kept smiling shyly and ducking your head and giggling and you kept wanting to pat his hair (he did get a new cut). After we got back when I asked if you were happy to be here or did you miss Mississippi, you told me "I just want to live where Papa is". He had to work the day after we got back and you took a picture of the door on his iPad and "drew" him coming through it. It was so good to all be back together. 

You challenge me so much and sometimes the Lord uses you to convict me. We decided on a little project where we're going to really work on saving for a few years so Papa can have more freedom and flexibility with work. At first I was pretty hesitant. We talked to you about it some and our conversation really helped make things more clear. So back story: You LOVE eating out. It's a big thing to you right now. Well, we asked you if you would wound rather not eat out much and have more time with her papa or go to restaurants a good bit but not have any more time with him. you didn't even blink- she chose more time with your papa. And it was convicting. Real convicting.

Annie, I love you so much. I can't tell you how much all these small interactions and experiences I get to enjoy (or wade through) with you mean. They are priceless to me and I could not be more thankful for them or for you. 

Momma (and Papa) 

P.S. Your dress is a 5. Not a 5T, a 5. So that something. Oh and Ms. Carrie found it for you at a consignment sale since I don't get to go to them these days. Also sort of special.

1 comment:

Annie said...

This is precious, Sarah! Annie is an old soul. She is definitely an analytical thinker!