Saturday, September 12, 2015

Letter to (Six Year and Four Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton,

You are so serious, but so much fun. You are the kind of person who is very funny, but has no idea she's funny at all. It happens that I love that kind of person. 

You are also quite assertive. A guy at the pool told you that he thought you were really five after you told him repeatedly you were six (to be fair, a four year old friend kept telling him she was eight and a half so I think he felt there was a lot of teasing going on). Finally, you go "I'm six. I'm VERY SHORT for my age."

You dinosaur obsession continues. You said to us one night that "T-Rex went to a bakery and do you know what he ordered? A pteranodon wing pastry". Thankful the Jurassic Nightparty finally hit closing time around midnight.

Another day, you said sternly (after Graves made the toy diplodocus attack his papa): "Diplie...don't bite the hand that's feeding you". [As an aside, you are also quite enthralled by an expressions book you have.]

Another favorite from you:  "Arbor" (the dinosaur) night-shifts at the castle. Seal makes sure he doesn't fall asleep by using an "uh uuh uuh" (very realistic seal noises) alarm". The "night shifting" (verb) really got me. 

Another morning, you said (as you brought a toy dino into her "nest"): "let's pretend this is a dead animal. Early (your bird beanie baby) likes to plump (gouge?) our their eyes and pretend they are berries for practice." Girlfriend, you're just like your momma and you don't do anything halfway.

You set up your nightstand as a home for Steggy. The top is her apartment and the bottom is her "storage unit", according to you (basically, she just throws epic amounts of crap down there so she can keep her studio neat and minimalistic; as you do). Youalso attached the little wooden box to be a porch and you told me that Steggy often has her friends over for a party on the rooftop like at Calvary-Saint George's. Fifteen months of city living really had an impact on you!

One morning the all important "best friend" Steggy got left in the car (the one car we currently own right now) and Papa was working a twelve hour shift. Towards the end of the morning, you proudly showed me a new gal that you constructed yourself who was "everything like the real Steggy". You seemed pretty content with the temporary replacement. Six is beautiful because it's hard for a long time, but not the whole time. There was a time in your life when I'm confident the whole twelve hours would be filled with off and on tears. I'm so proud of how you find solutions yourself and how emotionally healthy and competent you are.

If the dinos have a rival for your affections it's certainly birds. I found these birdhouse sheets in the attic and you were over the the moon! (I actually have a comforter I bought for your big girl bed when you were a baby just because *I* was obsessed with birds. Like decorative ones, though, not real ones.)

Graves wanted to know why the little peacock didn't have a big, bright tail. Before I could answer you said "Well, you KNOW the females are the ones who get surprised. The males are the ones who are so beautiful." The bird obsession has also manifested in you getting Graves to be the male bird and perform a courtship dance and Graves talking about finding "Podcast" (his toy dinosaur, OMG, GUYS) a mate (which he didn't realize would need to be from Podcast's same species). I legitimately have the weirdest kids ever. Which is pretty perfect.

Earlier in the Summer, you and Graves picked some beans from the garden and I boiled them and then threw them in with some butter, oil, and roasted walnuts. They turned out great and Graves got seconds twice. You got them about four times and I finally just gave you the rest of the batch in a tupperware container.You told me that they were one of your favorite foods and there was "another great thing about them". I asked you what that was and you said "well, probably, like, we won't waste as much money on them at the grocery store since we grew these ourselves." You know, because buying supermarket green beans is wasteful. Your papa's daughter! 

Recently, you asked me to cut up a watermelon. I told you that Papa is so much better at cutting up big watermelons than I am. You said "You can do it, Momma! I KNOW you can!" So I did. I'm determined you'll make a better feminist than me.

You are obsessed with meat at meals, all because you love to pretend to be a predator. You even ate some super spicy left over BBQ. It's gotten pretty morbid because you were definitely more pleased with the shredded chicken than with the more sanitized deli meat you've been eating for lunch.

Awhile back, Papa had been working loooong days and we still hadn't figured out what we were doing after my car died. One afternoon, I told you we'd "have" to walk to the park if we went and you said "Of COURSE that's no big deal, Momma. We don't have a car to use but really there are two others reasons to walk: one- it's healthy for our legs and two- the park is so close to our house. You were right of course, but geez it was hot! Anything for that goofy, care-free grin of yours, though!

I told you to drain the tub and showed you to where (it was WAY too full). You asked me if I'd "mark it with a (foam) letter" and when I told you that I didn't think it would stick under water you said "I'll just hold it with my toe". Clearly, you've watched us hang a lot of stuff lately.

You and Graves are, mostly, so sweet to one another. Graves did something for you and he told me "I just wanted her to say 'Sweet little Gravesy'". He sure does love you. 

Y'all are the most insane sleepers. You were confidant a Duplo piece was stuck under Graves who was asleep and you wanted us to get it. Instead, Papa taught you how to safely (and gently) roll him over. You literally rolled him all the way over, got the piece, and rolled him back. And he never woke up.

The other night I caught you and Graves both sleeping all sprawled out just like Papa does. He loves to hike his leg and sleep diagonally. Basically ensuring anyone else in the bed is miserable. Oh and apparently, you have specific shoes you wear "at night on quick trips with Papa". 

Lately, you have been joining Graves in y'alls room for half of rest time (you do school the other half). I sort of pushed back at first because I feel like solitary time is good for all of us and really it's the only break he gives you. But, these days, the alone time happens more naturally: You wake up early and watch the birds and you usually stay up later than him reading. My alone time is incredibly more satisfying when he has a playmate and it's calling me for something every ten minutes. And Mr. Social does have about an hour where he's forced to be alone with thoughts and imaginings because you and I need it for school (he usually joins is at the end of rest time and we do more school). Still, I was shocked when this became a daily thing because you are a true introvert. I asked you why you always wanted to be with Graves and you said "I like him so much". I said "Oh yeah, he's your best friend, right?" And you said "Momma. He's not *just* a best friend. He's a brother."

One thing y'all love to do is to get down your suitcases, pack, and take pretend trips. You put together a map puzzle of the United States and you keep it under their dresser (so Graves don't destroy it). Y'all pull it out and decide where to send their dinosaurs and themselves to visit. My little adventurers!

You aren't really what I'd call artistic, but I think you're VERY creative. I used to not really know the difference growing up and I think I would have had more confidence in myself if I had. You told me recently "I used the last of the toilet paper and I was just about to throw it away and then I stopped and thought 'Hey! You can make a little headband out of this!'"

You also pulled one of those rectangular Coke boxes out of the trash and told me that it was a dinosaur bus (a B60, to be exact) with a Coke advertisement on it .

You guys love to eat lunch under the table. First it was the Math House, then the School House, then the Picnic House. Shhh....don't tell Papa. I don't want you guys to mutiny and relocate us to a Tiny House.

Recently you were trying to figure out why Netflix lists the shows you've recently watched at the top, and I was trying to explain, and then you said "OH! They must think 'Those kids like Jake and the Neverland Pirates now, so we'll put it at the top". I love it when you talk about corporations as people.

We are really enjoying first grade so far- both of us! One of your activities in English recently was constructing this really long, sort of absurd sentence that started with "For my birthday I want..." And then the student is supposed to cut out and add all these silly compound words ("a seashell", "a rainbow", ect.). You were stopping me throughout the whole exercise, giggling hysterically and saying things like "Why would he- or she- want a flagpole? Do you think he or she had some sort of little flag? Why did he or she have a flag?" You are so literal and was taking this funny little thing so seriously and you're so inquisitive and just can't stop with the Q&A sessions all the time and you're so compulsive and have to use both pronouns every time. You're basically just like little girl me. And for some reason- I guess because your sense of humor seems sort of immature the way this just had you in stitches- it made you feel little to me. I love it when you get tickled. (Also, you STILL have baby hands. I'm going to sob when you don't anymore.)

Toward the end of our math year, you had your biggest struggles. And it wasn't fractions, or telling time, or counting money, or division fundamentals (good grief, kindergarten ain't what it used to be!). It was playing "winning games". Poor thing, you did not like games where you could maybe not win. I felt like the moving process (before we left Brooklyn) was a lot more stressful for you this time, so I didn't push it much and basically figured out ways to make the games not competitive for the tail end. But you're going to have to learn that it's okay to "not win" (you don't even know the word lose). It's not just the competition that bothers you, I've realized, it's that it means, basically, you didn't do something perfectly. You were telling me the other day about your Triceratops toy and you go "his name is Try-er" because he tries and tries until he gets something exactly right". I was like "um, you think she has some anxiety about getting things exactly right?" And Papa was like "You think??". Bless your heart. We played our first game of the school year (a memory game where you match doubles facts with their sums) and youjust happened to kick my tail (to be fair, I was really distracted by Graves). I will say that I love so very much what an intimate role I get in educating you and how when an issue arises, I'm the one who has to (gets to) figure it out.

You did start asking me about the difference between the algae that closed down the pool a few weeks ago and the bacteria in Mississippi Gulf Coast is. Our Summer has been dominated by micro organisms in the water. Also, I'm ready for the science teacher to stop working 60 hour weeks at his day job.

The other day at rest time you gathered up an armful of stuff, including an alphabet page you had created, and proceeded to their room, because after two days of working with Graves on identifying the letters, you decided it was time to "teach him how to put the letters together". "Great determination of purpose", as Mick would say. 

You've started making lots of signs and notes for us. One afternoon at rest time I told you NOT to ask me how much longer it would be again. I left the study for a few minutes and came back to find a note asking me on the desk. You give me a run for my money. 

You also started labeling your food in the fridge. (You did ask me how we'd remember that was YOUR sandwich and I reminded you that you're the only person in this family who saves food from meal to meal like this. Guess that didn't provide your with the assurance you had needed.)

One morning we were talking about prayer and how it's a conversation and I was telling you and Graves that you can pray anytime, anywhere. For some reason you said "even in the lonely places, you can talk to Him". I'll never stop being amazed at how often He uses y'all as His mouthpieces in my life. Such big Truth from such a little person. And how often and easily I forget Him in the lonely places.

You also told me awhile back that you didn't know anyone who didn't trust in Jesus, which was difficult because in the last year papa has come to the realization that he himself actually has no certainty of Jesus as God. I've never dodged anything with y'all before this. I've told you guys about sex and death and Santa and how some families have two daddies. This shit is so hard and just when I think I have somewhat of a handle on it, I get blindsided again. For what it's worth, I told you that the Lord knew exactly who you were praying for even if you didn't and you said "yes, He knows everyone's name". 

Hmm. I guess that's a good (if not a bit sad) place to end. I have so much trust in Jesus and in the person He is making you into. Looking at you and your brother is one of the biggest assurances to me that God is real and that He's so very present in our midst. Whether we all feel Him or not. 

Momma (and Papa) 

P.S. Your little yellow dress is a 5T and I think it will probably fit again next Summer. 

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