Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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

Dear Ann Peyton, 

As usual, I'm way behind, so the bulk of this letter is things that happened in September. Let's see, what was going on then?

You started soccer! The first week, your coach realized she wasn't able to coach anymore. There were only five of y'all on the team so they just put y'all on other Y teams. But for the first night, Papa coached the team. Y'all both had a blast.

Oh and you had a blast at your BFF's birthday party,  but you ate half a cupcake and told me "I think that's about enough of that...gotta save room for sausage" (at Mickey and Minnie's where we were headed next). You're my little hardcore carnivore. 

I subbed one day and I came home and you and Graves were in a cooler in the front yard with water in it. Also, while I was gone, y'all booby trapped the house with some string and forks and you ate an incredible amount of boiled peanuts. 

And as I watched the last back to school pictures roll in, I was so excited that we met my goal and had finished a quarter of first grade in math and English. I love the flexibility of being able to start mid Summer- on days when I have a bad headache or when the you guys are under the weather, we aren't obligated to anyone to push through or worry about the looming make up work. And if we want to camp or take a trip, we have the built in ability to just skip a week or so. It wasn't always fun in the Summer, but it felt great to start September with a full "term" under our belts. We also had a meeting with the attendance officer so you'd be first grade official. It went very smoothly!

Speaking of school- you were reading one of your readers and got to a page and said to me "that dog with the towel is not meeting, greeting, OR yakety-yaking. (Which is what the text described her as doing.) She's just off by herself. Why would they make her off by herself like that?!?"

As part of math, we played a family game of "corners" one night. Papa won, you came in second, I was last, and Graves was in his own world the entirety of the game. Incidentally, this ranking directly correlates with each person's level of competitiveness- Papa kept strategizing and saying how much fun this was, you were your typical intense self, I could not have forced myself to care less and still participate, and Graves was not about to give something like this one ounce of his mental energy. Either way, there are worse ways to do first grade than an after dinner game with your whole family.

We got several $.01 used books off Amazon- three four different informational books (birds, sea animals, insects and spiders, and endangered species). You devoured Sea Creatures and Graves has loved Insects and Spiders. We hid Birds for a surprise present for later. You acted really silly when we told you that they didn't have to be returned to the library and were yours and Graves's to keep. I love how grateful y'all are for little things.

You also loved the part in the endangered species book where it tells what the threats to each species are. One day around that time, y'all talked about creation care in Sunday School. Probably your favorite day ever in the house of the Lord!

Something I have been thinking about in regards to y'alls education-- certainly raising a reader isn't my highest parental goal, but I'd be lying if I said there was just a ton between it and the top of the list (and I'll be honest and say I have mixed feelings on how much importance I give it).

Oh and you met a friend that lives just around the corner, is close to your age, and is homeschooled. I wish I had a picture of the way your face lit up when your new friend mentioned, before you did, that she was homeschooled. You were SO excited to tell her that you are, too. What I do have a picture of is your new friend's name- she ran in to get supplies so she could make a note for you to take home. She said she was going to write her family members' names and leave it in the mailbox and then discussed sleepover plans with you. It's amazing how trusting and innocent children your age are- how easily they will give themselves to another person. Because I am not one to only post sunshine-y things, that night we had a different sort of new friend interaction. You and another little girl who had a sibling playing in Graves's game kicked a ball together for a bit and then, I think, the other little girl just wanted to play by herself. So she told you to just stand in a spot and wait. And wait. We told you later that sometimes people just don't feel like playing, just like you don't always want to play with Graves. You told us that you didn't think the girl didn't want to play with you, that was just part of the game. You weren't embarrassed, you just doesn't get that yet. Soon enough, you will. And while there's a balance, I do hope you will ere on the side of trusting people. I mostly have, and with a few exceptions, I'm grateful I've been able to.

We also finally finished up your side of their room. I think it reflects you well, too- little whimsical prints with quotes that make me feel extra introspective and inspired, lots of storage space for dress up clothes and stuffed animals, magnetic strips for your art, and a non overt animal motif. It's very you, right down to the bird sheets on your bed! 

Cookie and Conrad also came to visit. I was looking at two pictures of Cookie and you, side by side, one from that weekend and one from five years ago. You two have added a husband and a brother, respectively. Y'all have become a nurse and learned to read, respectively. And you've left the security of home for Nashville and Brooklyn, respectively. You both inspire me and make me proud. Two of my favorite people in all the world!

Papa was going to take you and Graves to camp in Mickey and Minnie's backyard one night (I was going to stay home because I had a cold and I didn't sleep well at all last time we camped in our backyard). Anyway, you teared up thinking about wild animals (Minnie had told me she had spotted a deer). So weird since you *love* wild animals. Then you realized I wasn't going and full on sobbed. SO unlike you. I think you were exhausted and Papa convinced you guys y'all should just stay here and let y'all watch an extra show to console you (mostly Graves- he was pretty disappointed). I couldn't wait until the next morning to tell you that a "wild animal" did, in fact, join y'all. Not sure how General snuck in but he sure does love to curl up with Graves. I took a picture so you could see. 

Papa and I went out one night and you told me "y'all go on too many dates". Girlfriend, this ain't Brookyn, you have grandparents who adore you, and to be honest, I know very few six year olds who get as many hours a day with both their parents as you do. Plus, we are able to love you (and each other!) better when we get a few hours away from you once in awhile.

You've still been keeping up you habit of communicating through notes. For awhile you and Graves were putting out the "calshin" sign every time someone took a bath so they wouldn't slip. 

One Sunday morning in the pew at Northside, you also penned an affirmation of faith- your first written one- "we believe in God". That was a very special moment for me. [As an aside, Sundays are going alright- we drop Papa off at work, go to church, come home for a relaxing afternoon and then pick him up at eight. Y'all are TROOPERS. Some days after church, though, it don't matter how loud The Boss is singing you through your Sunday, six thirty in the morning is too damn early and y'all both take a car nap. Which is crazy unusual for you.] 

Sort of a different vibe, but when you brother is already getting to be too much at ten AM on a Saturday you leave notes that say "naptime is starting graves go".

You animal obsession goes on. You said that since there's no papa bird for (Beanie Baby) Early's babies, a (Beanie Baby) squirrel, Nuts, helps her with them when she leaves the nest. They call him "Papa Critter". 

I also found a coloring page with a boy and a girl with little speech bubbles. You had filled them in. The girl said "I love you" and the boy said "the squirrel is a rodent".Listen up potential suitors: if Annie says those three magic words, that's your go ahead to start talking about rodents.

Watching you pretend to be a hummingbird is literally one of the most hysterical things I've ever seen in my life. You act SO spastic, hum loudly, and flap your arms really hard. You told me "this is actually good exercise for me". This is followed closely by howling towards the sky when you're outside after dark and quick little licks on the faces of your beanie baby tiger to show him maternal affection.

Your new favorite expression is "What in the creature world?" (I think you got that from Chris and Martin of Wild Kratts fame). Fitting since that's the world you mostly inhabit these days.

You noticed that the great frigate bird is listed as two different sizes in your bird and ocean animals books. Sometimes you're oblivious to the most obvious things, but you're very observant about what YOU cares about.

One night you told Papa that he had taught me to drive the car, he could teach me to make pancakes. This lead to a conversation about all being good at different things and of course, you basically wanted to a list of things I do better than him. There were NOT ALOT we could think of at the time so later I made my own:
1. I'm better at empathizing with head hurts
2. I'm better at dealing with emotional pain
3. I'm better at gently wiping bottoms until people are competent enough to do it on their own
4. I'm better at documenting childhoods
Pretty stellar skill sets, right here.

You have become very emotionally intelligent. You told me that "If I get angry, I can always go to my closet. I think reading books relaxes me". You know, when your six year old is better at self care than you are. It reminded me of when you were about Graves's current age and you told me I could borrow your calm down chair in a moment when it was clear that I needed to do just that. 

Oh, I thought we might have taken Voluntary Simplicity too far when I heard you say "Hey! I have an idea. Maybe on days when we don't have any peanut butter and jelly we can have an extra cup of milk as a special treat". Just kidding, we just really need to go to the grocery store. And list, the majority of supper consisted of these frozen, prepackaged scones y'all had at Minnie's and became obsessed with, so being a grandmother, she buys packages and sends them over here. I do tend to hoard them and then surprise y'all with a "treat" when we have no food.

I told you that you could eat something that fell on the ground in the yard and your response was "Really?!? We've been walking all around in these shoes we wore in NEW YORK." Apparently, urban dirt is more frightening than suburban dirt, even at six.

You have just the right amount of sass and I love it. I told you that I was not negotiating on something and you sighed this exasperated sigh and said "Can you PLEASE use only words that I know?"

Also, you were reading to Graves from his insects book and he started arguing. You go "Ugh, GRAVES. These people know more about it than you do".

Papa was teasing me because I referred to making a grilled cheese as cooking. You asked what we were laughing about and I told you that Papa was being a little mean to me, hoping to get some back up, and did you think that putting bread on the skillet and making a cheese sandwich was cooking. you said "Definitely not. Cooking is like when you make the batter and stuff." Always getting schooled by you, Annie.

The other night, I was at Target with you, and you literally never stopped talking the whole time (normal for your brother, not so much for you). I stopped and looked at some baby bedding on the end of an aisle.
AP: "why are you looking at that?"
SD: "Oh, it's just fun to think about...for later"
AP: "Well, there's not a baby on the way and even if there was, that'd be a LONG time to plan" (at that point, there wasn't a baby on the way!)
SD: "You're right. I was just looking"
[several aisles away, after a full minute or so]
AP: "Either way, we don't have a NEED for have all of mine and Bud's stuff anyway". You're a real delight to shop with =) You do not do things half way and Voluntary Simplicity is not exception. 

Another day, Graves was doing a trick on the swingset and I was inside cleaning. You called me and when I said "Oh I think he's fine" you said "Taking care of the house is not NEAR as important as taking care of Graves" and then put your arms around him tightly and snatched him back into the playhouse yourself. A little later, he told me he told me "please don't speak to my friend in such a rude voice". His friend was you and the voice was more stern than rude, but I love how protective you two are of each other. 

You are also a very supportive sister. One day, after about the millionth time of Graves constructing an enlarged version of a particular part of the male anatomy, you said "Who knows what Graves will make with play dough next? He's *such* a creator". Our resident sculptor maybe spent too much time at The Met.

Finally, you're just very caring and sweet. I've started letting y'all keep your lamps on at night and it's not unusual for you to read to him for an hour in bed before y'all go to sleep. 

You are such a delight and I love getting to know you more every day. 


Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your dress is a 5T and we got it in Brooklyn at the Flea! 

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