Thursday, January 14, 2016

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

 Dear Ann Peyton,

You've been having lots of fun lately. You roller skated for the first time recently at a birthday party. It was like watch a baby learn to walk. You had told me and Papa several times before the party that you "couldn't skate". We reassured you a lot and you had a blast! I love it when you find your confidence! You had the best time. We did have a very hard moment when I threw your armband in the nasty bathroom trashcan. You wanted it off, but you wanted to keep it (probably forever). I'm glad your meltdowns have gotten a lot more manageable (and that we had already thanked the hostess).

Also, I even exchanged numbers with another mom at the party, which is sort of the end goal of going to this kind of thing- besides just being fun, since y'all are not in traditional school, we really want you and Graves to have the opportunity to develop friendships outside just our own friends' children. Your closest friend from soccer (who is a year older and about a foot taller than you) told me "I wish she could come home with us and be ours". I decided that kind of frankness was enough to give me the confidence to ask her momma for her number. I'll be really honest here- I would regret to this stuff every time if Papa didn't really push me.

I have to tell you that I was so thankful for that time with you- helping you learn a new skill, watching you cultivate friendships, and spending time just hearing your important thoughts, uninterrupted.

Papa and I went on a fun date to a little party awhile back. Listen- this is something I will never take for granted- having two "babysitters" for y'all that raised me and that have admitted to loving you and Graves as much as they love me and Cookie. Don't know who had more fun- us, Mickey and Minnie, or you guys. We ate yummy snacks, visited with friends, and enjoyed a fun band. They made shadow puppets, watched Keyboard Cat on YouTube, and drank Canada Dry.

"Midnight" (your stuffed owl that you are obsessed with) also went to Minnie's that evening. It was the perfect occasion for a smocked babydoll dress. I had to laugh because you wore a ratty princess dress with your Sylvester and the Magic Pebble t-shirt on top. True Momma moment, AP. Story of my life- "y'all put on this smocked bishop and jon jon; I'll wear gym shorts and a college t-shirt until I'm thirty".

Sidenote about Midnight--  she was the first stuffed animal we ever bought and also the first toy you ever even asked for in a store. We explained that tears aren't always (or even usually) going to work but we did understand it was the last one and on clearance (and thus probably wouldn't be there later after we/you had time to think- you're pretty sharp), and that you loved her so. Most of y'alls toys are hand me downs/our old stuff (y'all have also been playing with some cowboys and Indians from like the 60s right now)/things we picked to surprise them with. It's been sweet to watch you fall so in love with a little creature you picked out yourself. One of the first nights after you got her, you and Graves both fell asleep snuggled together with your arms entwined around her. I took a picture and thought about y'alls relationship. I say this often, I think, but I'm so thankful for the way you and Graves love, serve, and protect each other and the way y'all inspire me to love harder and more fearlessly. 

Like I was saying, most of y'alls stuff is hand me downs.  Back when we were making trips to Mickey and Minnie's storage unit , Papa had to dig Hushpuppy and Teddy Graham out. I'd be damned if I was going to let his childhood stuffed animals burn down with the house (because I have anxiety and was sure our house was going to burn down while we weren't living in it). You got pretty obsessed with Teddy Graham, like strangely obsessed (like talked about him in a weird voice obsessed) but that's mostly worn off. And for awhile Graves may totally have decided "Hush" was a real dog that belonged to him (although you were the one who kept his treats and dog toys in your purse). He's gradually moved on to other things too, but it's so funny to watch y'alls interests change and develop, especially quirky ones that become all encompassing.

We also experienced some bad weather awhile back. You were full on sobbing/screaming about the tornado sirens. Papa gave you the whole bag of what was left of your Halloween candy and went and fetched your Animal Encyclopedia from the path of potential destruction and you remembered that "Aunt Elizabeth said that, even if they hit a house, usually tornadoes just damage the roofs" and that all helped you feel a lot better.
However, you did move from the hall bathroom to y'alls bathroom and spent the rest of the night there "just to be safe". Honestly, I'm sure it's not the most uncomfortable/unconventional place you've ever slept, but bless your heart.

We had a great Thanksgiving. I think one of your favorite parts was that you got to spend a lot of time with your cousins, Simeon and Michel. Cookie and Conrad also visited and got in around ten one night. They were just stopping for the night on the way to Baton Rouge so it was our only chance to see them that week. It was so late but you and Graves were such rockstars. Okay, actually y'all aren't rock stars; your mom has let you guys get on a really jacked up schedule. But sometimes I give back pats for incidental things that really don't deserve them.

Oh, this is a big one! Milestones don't come so often anymore, but recently we hit one. I can't articulate why, but it was a very important one to me. A couple of your soccer teammates still call you "Ann" and we were discussing in the car how you need to be able to correct them if that's not what you want to be called. Suddenly, it occurred to me to ask you (maybe a little nervously) what you WOULD like people to call you. I explained that you could go by Ann Peyton, AP, Annie, or if you wanted- Ann or Peyton. You quickly told us that "I really like the name Annie and I love when people call me that". You did say later that you don't mind Ann Peyton and it won't bother you at all if your friends who have used your double name all your life continue to do so. Names are a really big deal to me. They are so, so important. And I loved this moment so much. To be totally honest (and it's probably obvious but it's been hard for me to admit even to myself) I like your double name more in theory than in practice. I think it's a beautiful name and it represents two of the people I love most in this world- your papa and your aunt. But you're always an Annie to me. It fits and it's been my preference for awhile. It's one of my favorite names in the entire world. But I'm still glad I have your permission to go back and forth, which has been one of my absolute favorite things about the name we chose- that it has allowed me to go back and forth between your beautiful double name and a cute diminutive for six years pretty seamlessly. In fact, I consider that a lot when thinking about this next baby's name. I was just a little younger than you when I dropped the "Sarah" and became Denley for the next twelve years until I entered college. Another really fun thing about having a double name is that, if you have gracious enough friends, you can go by different things at different stages of your life. I'm so  grateful for my sweet Annie girl and your strength of opinion on things.

Another thing I am thankful for is your continued eagerness in learning to read. You are so excited about it and are getting really good.

The other day you held up your peanut butter sandwich and said "Look, I made North America!" Papa has been doing a maps unit with y'all and you are our resident geography buff. 

Another quintessential Annie moment recently: Thanking God specifically for the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic oceans.

You have also been going over a print out we got at Tishomingo, trying to determine if a stuffed snake is venomous.

The other day in the car I was listening to MPB and there was a guy on there discussing the "divorce rate" of birds. Flamingos have (he said "as you would except"- what's with the flamingo shaming??) incredibly high rates. The albatross, however, is incredibly faithful to it's partner. It's crazy what you'll find interesting when you have a Crazy Bird Lady for a child.

We finished off our semester of English back in December and had about thirteen math lessons to complete between now and January to be on track with my goals. We ended up finishing them up around the first or second week of January. I think the spontaneous break in November was great for me and you, though. You only finished three of the six problems the first day back into- the first took who knows how long, I timed the second and it took you twenty five minutes, and the third went a little more quickly. BUT you didn't get frustrated and discouraged until the very end and I think that was largely because your wild brother, your disruptive papa, and your uncle that you adore playing with returned from their walk and inadvertently reminded you that there are much more exciting things in life than base ten cards.

You also went to your first book club meeting with the homeschool group we're in. I procrastinated digging it out of the attic and we had to read it all in about three days but we all LOVED The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (I was Gladys in the play in high school so I've read it quite a few times, but it never gets old!). 

You nights are still so unpredictable and hilarious. On night awhile back I found you with a (soft) chair on your bed, conked out in my old nightgown you love to play dress up in, and your map book positioned for easy access in the morning. Just another night at the Herrington house.

Another night I came in and you were wearing a clearance 6-12 mo. (purchased this year) monster costume from Walgreens and creating dramatic productions with Steggie and your circa 1960 cowboys and Indians.

A couple of days later y'all slept until 10:30. Literally at 2:15 in the morning a couple of days before. Graves dropped Wheely Bug over the gate and it crashed. We were already asleep. You told me that Wheely Bug is the "two AM alarm" and he will do that every morning from now on. OMG. Glad that didn't become reality.

You did say to me on another that "UGH. Graves just goes RIGHT TO SLEEP if you don't play with him". Right to sleep equals after about an hour and a half.

And yet another night you told me that you were "SO HUNGRY" and I told you to go to the kitchen, get an apple, and wash it (Graves was already asleep). I asked you where you put the core and you said you ate it. I said "the seeds?" And  you took me to your little bathroom trash can. Sure enough, about six Apple seeds. I love you so much.

I love you so much.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your little Santa outfit is a 6 and the top was almost like a dress so I hope you'll get another year out of it. It was so hot this December that you didn't wear it much. Also, I thought it was paticularily endearing that the picture features Midnight since I wrote so much about her in this letter.

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