Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nervous (The first day of school)

Author’s Note:  It’s been more than four weeks since the first day of school and I am finally finishing this post.  It’s been busy and I’ve been tired.  Always tired . . .. 

I was most nervous about your first day.  I was nervous because you would be in school all day without Margot.  You two have always been together.  And now you won’t be.  You two were in preschool together, of course; and you took gymnastics together.  For a very short time you took gymnastics without Margot when she started ballet, but she went to every one of your classes and watched (and then she insisted she be put back in gymnastics as well as taking ballet).  Even when Margot had ballet class, Flynn, you were sitting in the chairs outside the ballet studio waiting for her.

You two were always together.

Once, after you started preschool together we asked you, “Who’s your best friend in school?”  “Margot,” you said giving me a look that suggested the question was silly and the answer was obvious.  For two years you never mentioned another friend in preschool.

We thought briefly about putting you two in the same kindergarten classroom.  We could have requested it but we decided it was time for you each to have some independence.  To find your own friends.
We mentioned a few times over the summer, Flynn, that you and Margot would have different kindergarten teachers.  You complained a bit, saying that you wanted to have the same teacher as Margot.  Margot didn’t seem to be too concerned.  We didn’t bring it up a lot, but when we did we talked about how we hoped that you would have Mr. Kallok and we reminded you that Coco had Mr. Kallok so you knew him and that he was super nice. 

I didn’t want you to be nervous, because I was nervous.
Honestly, I was also a little nervous about your first day of kindergarten because you’re small.  You still eat like a bird and weigh about as much as one too.  The Gothams are big people so being small is not a familiar experience.  Would all the other kids be bigger than you?  In my head I had this image of my little boy, smaller than everyone else, without his twin sister by his side for the first time, shy and quiet, sitting by himself on the playground without any friends.  It didn’t help that on the Friday night before school started when we went to the school to see the classroom lists, we met another little boy starting kindergarten too.  But he wasn’t so little.  He had just missed the cutoff date for starting kindergarten the prior year.  He was nearly a year older than you and he must have been at least several inches taller than you.  He seemed huge.  It made me more nervous.

Checking the classroom assignments before school starts
Flynn, you were also nervous about starting kindergarten because you didn’t know how to count to 25 and you didn’t know your “plus-plusses” (math).  I don’t know where you got the idea that you had to know math before you started kindergarten, but we assured you that it wouldn’t be a problem. 
On the first day of school I walked with you in line with your class (every kindergartner holding a parent’s hand) following Mr. Kallok up from the lower yard to the back door of his classroom.  I wanted to go with you because -- between you and Margot -- you were the one most likely to need a bit of extra comforting and handholding (literally and figuratively).  I wanted to be there to do that.  So, every day for the first week of school, I walked with you up to your classroom.   

We were toward the back of the line and when we reached the backdoor of Mr. Kallok’s room.  The parents weren’t going in; the kids were going in but the parents weren’t.  You looked up at me and asked if I was going to go in with you.  “Damn right, I’m going in.” (I didn’t say that out loud.)  “Yes, Flynn, I’ll go in with you.” Fortunately, the parents at the door realized that they could go in so we walked into class together. 
You asked me to help you find where you would sit, which we did.  Coincidentally, the boy sitting across from you at your quad of kindergarten desks was the little brother of one of Coco’s friends, and a little girl at your table was the little sister of one of Coco’s friends too.  “That’s so exciting, Flynn!” I said.  You were not impressed. 

We found your cubby, put your backpack away and hung your coat.  Mr. Kallok asked all the kids to sit down on the carpet at the front of the room.  Nearly all the other kids where already sitting down when you went to find a spot.  From the edge of the carpet you looked back at me where I was standing with the other parents crowded around the sides of the room and I signaled you to go ahead, to find a spot to sit down.  Still unsure about what to do exactly, with all the other kids between you and someplace to sit, you stepped between them to get to an empty spot and sat down.
Mr. Kallok introduced himself and said he wanted you all to draw a picture of what you did this summer.  Mr. Kallok showed you all a picture he drew of himself hiking in the woods.  A little girl’s hand shot up in the air.  “Yes?” Mr. Kallok asked.  “You’re a good drawer, Mr. Kallok!”  Mr. Kallok and the parents chuckled.  “Thank you!” said Mr. Kallok.  “Brown-noser,” I thought to myself.  “I got my eye on you, missy.”

And with that, you all went back to find your desk.  There was a bit of chaos as kids and parents crowded and squeezed amongst and around one another and the half-dozen quads of the 24-inch-high desks.  Kids were trying to find their desks and parents were trying to find their kids. 
When I got to you, Flynn, I leaned over and gave you a big hug and kiss.  “I’m so proud of you, Flynn,” I whispered in your ear.  “Have fun today.  Remember, Mr. Kallok is totally nice.  Papa will pick you up after school and I’ll see you at dinner.  I can’t wait to hear all about your day.”

“I want you to stay,” you said, not quite pleading -- but almost.

“I can’t stay. I have to go to work.  And you’re going to have so much fun today!”
“I want you to stay,” you asked again.

“Flynn, I can’t stay.  I gotta go.  I love you.”  And with a final hug and kiss, I said goodbye and left.  I had to leave, but not because I had to go to work.  I left because if I didn’t leave I was going to start bawling right there in front of you.  You had managed to keep it together and I was determined to do the same.
In the hallway I pulled it together then peeked into Margot’s classroom next door.  Unlike Mr. Kallok who “invited” parents to leave after only five minutes, Ms. Mar was letting parents linger.  Papa was still there with Margot, so I went in to give Margot a hug and a kiss too.

I wasn’t as nervous about your first day of school as I was about Flynn’s.  I was pretty sure you would be fine without Flynn in your class; you’re ready for a little independence.  We also know you’re ready to find a little girl your age who can be your friend and a friend you won’t have to share with your brother and sister.  In fact, you’re desperate to find a little girlfriend. 
For months and months, you have complained about not having a little girl for a friend.  Like Flynn, you never really connected with the other kids in your preschool.  Also, the families we see regularly outside of school all have boys and most of the boys are older than you:  Wyatt, Josh and Jason Sonefeldt, Cassius and Uly Altholtz-Martinez, Miles and Laird Treaster, and Eliot Freund . . ..  Not a single little girl in the bunch.  And you also complain about the boys being too rough and too loud. 

We really hope kindergarten will produce a few girlfriends for you.  We’ve been laying the groundwork for it for months.  In May we went to the school welcome breakfast for new kindergarten families so that we could meet little girls who might be your friend.  In June we went to the school’s first summer play date for new kindergarten families (we would have gone to the second and third but you were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house) to try to meet friends for you.  The Saturday before the first day of school we went to the back-to-school picnic to try to connect with the little girls we had already met and to maybe meet a few more.  We also started inviting other kindergarteners to your birthday party the weekend after the first week of school.  That birthday party is all about trying to lock in a few friends for you and Flynn.
Margot, your only worry about kindergarten has been a concern about having a “strict” teacher, i.e., a mean teacher.  For weeks you’ve been saying you don’t want a strict teacher, nearly in tears at the prospect of a teacher who won’t be nice to you or who might yell at you for not behaving.  The irony, of course, is that you are the best rules-follower in our family.  You’re a good listener, you focus and do what you’re asked to do, you’re neat and tidy (Papa is thankful that at least one other person in the family is neat and tidy), and you like a plan for every day.  You’re a strict teacher’s dream!  We’ve told you over and over again this summer that there are no strict teachers in kindergarten.  They’re all super-nice and they’re going to love having you in class.

In fact, Margot, on the second day of school when I was in your classroom giving you a hug and kiss goodbye and Ms. Mar blew her harmonic for everyone’s attention, your two fingers shot up in the quiet sign and you practically fell into your chair to sit down while pushing me to get me on my way out the door.  Yes, Margot, you are a rules-follower and a strict teacher’s dream.

But back to the first day of school . . ..

After all the hugs and kisses and almost-tears, Papa and I were out of the room.  Papa went to the cafegymatorium for the principal’s welcome for parents and I was on my way to work.  Coco, I peeked into your classroom to get a glimpse of you and you were intently listening to Ms. Petrocchi standing at the front of the room.  And then I was off to the 16th Street BART station to catch the train to work.  

I wasn’t nervous about your first day of school; it’s your third year, after all.  No, I wasn’t nervous about your first day; I was nervous about your second-grade homework.  And I was right to be nervous.  
Your kindergarten and first grade homework was a breeze, a cake walk, no problem; you had it in the bag.  Most days, it was done before I got home from work.  But this year I think will be a different story.  It looks like - at this point at least - your homework will be a page of reading comprehension and a page of math every day.  That won’t be a problem.  But the required minimum 20 minutes of reading every night?  Well, that might be a problem.  It will have to be done in the all-too-short window of precious little time between dinner and bedtime.  And there’s no fudging it.  Your homework -- including your reading log -- has to be turned in every day instead of only on Fridays like in kindergarten and first grade.  There’s no missing a night and making it up the next night.  Ugh. 

And the first night of homework did not go well.
I was in charge of homework the first night.  It should have been easy.  Dinner was done before 7:00 p.m. (later than the planned schedule but we were still adjusting) so we had a whole hour before bedtime.  And there was only one page of homework.  Nine questions and all the questions were about you: Who lives in your house with you?  What is your favorite subject in school?  What is your favorite TV show or movie?  What did you like most about your teacher last year?  “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy,” right? 


It went something like this:

You telling me that you didn’t know how to answer the questions.
Me assuring you that there were no right answers.
You telling me that you still didn’t know what to write.
Me reading the questions to you like, “what’s your favorite TV show or movie?”
You telling me that you didn’t have one.
Me reminding you that you love “Trolls.”
You writing down “Trolls.”
Me moving to the next question: “what is your favorite subject in school?”
You telling me that you don’t like anything at school.
Me suggesting that you write down the subject you dislike the least.
You writing down science.
Me lobbing yet another question for you, like “what are you good at in school?”
You telling me that you aren’t good at anything.
Me suggesting that you are a good reader.
You writing that down.

After an hour (an hour!!) we finally finish the nine questions. 

Then, me letting you know that you that you had run out of time to watch TV, asking you to put on your pajamas, and telling you that we still had to finish your reading.
You in full-on tears telling me that it’s my fault that you couldn’t watch TV.

Us moving downstairs to finish your reading.

You telling me that I didn’t love you.
Me explaining that if I didn’t love you then I wouldn’t make you do your homework, and then you would go to school without your homework done and your teacher being very disappointed, and then you would have to do second grade all over again because you didn’t do your homework.
You telling me that you weren’t going to do your reading.
Me explaining that if you didn’t finish your reading by 8:30 p.m. there would be no TV the next day.
You finishing your reading.
You brushing your teeth and going to bed and falling asleep. 

You, so very tired after your first day of school.  Probably disappointed that your summer was over, maybe thinking about your long stay with Grandma and Grandpa having fun every single day.  Frustrated that now you have to share Daddy and Papa with Margot and Flynn on the walk to school every day.  Sad that Daddy and Papa can’t walk you up to class because they have to walk Margot and Flynn to their classrooms because they are new at school and nervous about kindergarten. 

Homework can be hard.  But it’s harder being a big sister sometimes, in second grade.   

On the playground together on the first day of school

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Making It Good


            Dear Coco, Flynn and Margot,

            I hope this letter finds you well, wherever and whenever you read it.  I’m writing to you from a Starbucks in Ithaca, New York.  Or Boston.  Or New York City.  Or Chicago.  Or Ann Arbor.  Or San Diego.  Or Los Angeles.  Or Fort Lauderdale.  Or Seattle.  I’ve been to all those places this year.  Seattle, too many times to count.  I’ve been away from home a lot lately; nearly every week for the past several months.

            I think about my travel for work a lot or, rather, I think a lot about my travel for work and whether it's having a negative impact on you.  Does it make you sad or upset?  Do you notice it?  Or is it just regular for you, just like having a Papa and a Daddy is regular for you?  Other parents have to be away from home for work a lot.  And it's not always because of travel.  Is our situation really very different?  (Papa says inside my head is a very busy place.)

            Papa has been away from home three days a week for years.  Since, Flynn and Margot, you were born. My travel goes up and down, and this year it’s been up.  Really up.  Typically Papa leaves on Monday morning before you all are awake.  Then I leave on Wednesday morning.  Coco, you insist that I wake you up before I leave at 5:00 a.m., and Margot and Flynn, I send you a video from the airport.  Papa comes home on Wednesday evening before bedtime.  I come home on Thursday or sometimes Friday night, usually after bedtime.  Obviously, Papa and I don’t see each other much during the week.

            But, even though Papa and I are gone a lot, one of us is always home in the morning for breakfast and school drop-off and one of us is always home for dinner and bedtime.  Or nearly always, at least.  And with all this travel weekends have become sacrosanct.  Whether it’s a weekend in the country, or in the city for birthday parties, Hola Kids cultural celebrations, McKinley DogFest, or ballet rehearsal . . . . the weekends are about our time together.  Work rarely interferes with family time on the weekends.  That’s the goal.

            Papa and I want you to have what we had when we were growing up, or as close as we can get to it. 

            When I was growing up we had dinner together every night.  Every night Dad came home from work at the same time: 6:15 p.m.  Like clockwork.  (That’s because your Grandpa runs on a schedule.  Always has.  Margot, I think you’ll be the same.)   I’d be in my room doing homework, watching TV or something.  I could hear Dad’s Jeep coming, blocks before Dad reached the driveway.  It was a 1974 CJ5.  It was loud.  The garage door below my bedroom would go up, the Jeep would pull in, the garage door would go down,  The door from the garage to the basement would open and then slam shut.  Footsteps coming up the stairs.  Dad in my doorway. 

            “How’s your day?”  he’d say.

            “Fine,” I’d say.

            “Yeah?” he’d say.

            “Yeah, fine,” I’d say. 

            I think it probably went something like that.  I’m sure he’d hope to get more out of me than that.  But I was, like, 13.  Thirteen-year-olds don’t talk much. 

            The point is, Dad was home for dinner every night.
            When I was growing up we went camping a lot too.  We’d pack up the trailer -- and I don’t mean the tent-trailer.  The tent-trailer came later.  When we got fancy.   I mean the first trailer.  The trailer Dad built in the garage.  I don’t remember how he built it, and I don’t remember if he built it in Yakima or after we moved to Tacoma.  But I remember he built it.  The sides were made of plywood, and the top was too. I think it was green at first, and then maybe tan to match the color of the Jeep, and then dark brown.  Later, after we got the tent-trailer, the brown trailer was used to haul firewood out of the mountains around Port Angeles.  Dad would split the wood and Scott and I would load the cut wood into the trailer.  I hated hauling firewood.  We probably only did it once or twice a year.  But I still hated it.  Forty years later that trailer still sits in the backyard at Mom and Dad’s house.  It’s still dark brown.  And I still think of hauling firewood whenever I see it.

Hauling Wood (circa 1980)
            Anyway, into the brown plywood trailer we’d pack the tent, the sleeping bags and air mattresses, the ice chests, the boxes of groceries, the cook stove and other stuff. 

            Then we’d climb into the Jeep.  All five of us and the dog.  (There were five of us because aunt Donna Mary - who was a teenager at the time - was living with us.)  Donna Mary and I’d sit in the back seat, my nose in a book.  Sometimes Scott would sit in the back too, but usually he’d sit in the front, on a sleeping bag stuffed between the two front seats, trying to keep his legs out of the way of the stick shift. The dog would be loose, of course, jumping from lap to lap, trying to get his nose and head out a window. 

            In the summer time there would be no windows for the front seats because Dad built half-doors for the Jeep.  They were made of plywood too, like the trailer.  Painted black.  Scott and I liked it when the half-doors were on the Jeep.  The Jeep felt open, even if the top was on.  The only thing better was when the top was off. 

Huckleberry Picking (circa 1976)
            So, off we’d go.  Barreling down the freeway.  The five of us and the dog in a Jeep with doors made of plywood, maybe wearing seatbelts, maybe not, towing a trailer made of plywood (at least until we upgraded to the tent-trailer).  I remember one summer we went camping every single weekend.  Most of the time we’d head east to a campground in the Cascades; sometimes we’d head west to the beaches.  September was huckleberry season so we’d head south to Mt. Adams.  We’d follow logging roads into the hills, looking for a good place to camp, not too far from the swaths of huckleberry bushes growing across the hillsides. 

            Usually we’d meet another family along the way or at the destination campground.  The Pitts.  The Staleys.  The Keelers.  The Snyders.  It was particularly fun when the Keelers came along.  Jean Keeler was the only grownup I knew who would sing campfire songs for us kids.  The Bear in Tennis Shoes was the favorite.  Most exciting, though, was the old school bus Larry Keeler had converted into a camper.  Imagine for a kid the novelty of riding in a school-bus-turned-camper!  One time the school-bus-turned-camper broke down (as school-bus-turned-campers are wont to do).  To get home, we all had to pile into the Jeep.  We crammed five Gothams, five Keelers, a dog, and a couple bags of groceries too, I think, into that Jeep.  And off we went, barreling down the highway, headed for home. 

The Keeler Family & The School-Bus-Turned-Camper
(circa 1976)
            Now, I don’t know if Dad really was home for dinner every night.  He probably wasn’t.  And I don’t know if we really went camping every weekend that one summer.  We probably didn’t.  And maybe Mom or Dad missed a few soccer games here and there, or an orchestra performance once.  If they did, I don’t remember it.  But none of that matters, really.  What matters is how I remember it.  And I remember it all as Good.

            So, Coco, Flynn and Margot, how do we make it Good for you?  How do we make it Good when we travel every week?  When we’re not home at the same time for four and sometimes five days a week?  Like everyone else, we try.  We try really hard. 

            When you read this someday, I hope you remember Daddy and Papa – or at least one of us -- home for dinner every night.  I hope you remember walking to school with at least one of us every morning.  I hope you remember weekends in the country catching tadpoles in the pond in the backyard, watching deer, turkeys and wild pigs wander through the front yard, going to the county fair every September and picking apples in the orchard, and cutting down a Christmas tree every Thanksgiving.

            With all that, I hope you remember growing up as Good.

Fishing with Dad (1977)

Camping (1975)
The Gotham Tent-Trailer & The Pitt Tent

Camping and Jeeping, Shi Shi Beach (circa 1980)
Dad's Jeep and Uncle Marty's Jeep

Huckleberry Picking (1983)
The Gothams, Keelers, Pitts and Snyders

Mike and Scott
Hiking the Olympics (1990)
Summit of Mt Olympus (1993)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Dear Future-Margot

Thanksgiving 2017

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Dear Future-Margot,

I hope this letter finds you well, wherever and whenever you read it.  I’m writing to you from the dining room table in the country.  It’s ten o’clock on a Saturday night.  You’re upstairs asleep in Daddy and Papa’s bed with Papa, Coco and Flynn.  Do you remember these days when we all piled into the same bed in the country?  I suppose it’s not so different from our sleeping arrangement in the city.  The only difference is that in the city everyone starts in their own bed and then, one by one, you all make your way to Daddy and Papa’s bed.  In the country we just start in the same place.  Fortunately, we have a really big bed.

Everyone’s asleep except for me, which isn’t unusual.  I’ve spent many Saturday nights here in the country, working, puttering or writing while the four of you are asleep in the room above me.  Oh, and there’s usually a vodka tonic involved.  I’ll go up in a bit . . . 

The Annual Christmas Tree Hunt - 2017
Anyway, Christmas is over.  We finally got everything put away last week, but it was a lot of work.  You know we have bins and bins and bins of Christmas stuff.  And this year we had the biggest tree we’ve ever had.  Do you remember it?  We cut it down here in the country.  Just off the driveway above the pond across from the blackberry bramble.  The tree didn’t look that big when we picked it.  I actually suggested it and you know I’m not the one who wants the biggest tree he can find (that would be Papa).  But then, once we got it up on top of the car somehow it got bigger.  Driving back up the driveway I had to stick my head out the window to give Papa directions because we couldn’t see out the windshield.  And then we got it back home to San Francisco and it got even bigger.  And then a week later we put it in the house and it had gotten bigger yet.  When we put water in the tree stand Flynn was worried that the tree would keep growing and “break the house.”   

It was so big we got a text from a neighbor:  “Are you kidding me?” she said.  “Now I’m embarrassed by my fake tree in my window.  I’m closing my curtains.”  The tree fell over once while we were putting it up.  Coincidentally, Flynn was the only person in the room at the time.  Hmmmm . . .   A few days later Olive from down the street came over to play and asked, “Is that the tree that almost killed Flynn?”  So, it was the biggest tree we’ve had (so far), it caused a bit of a stir on the block, and it almost killed Flynn.  Just another Christmas for us, right?

Anyway, I’m digressing.  I’m writing to you because I thought you (Future-Margot) might like to know a little bit about your four-and-a-half-year-old self (Margot-Now).  I suspect that as you (Future-Margot) read about Margot-Now you’ll see a lot of yourself in, well, yourself. 

Just another day at school.
"I wonder what the plan is today."
The first thing you should know about yourself (or, you likely already know about yourself), is that you like a plan.  You like a schedule.  On weekend mornings or sometimes in the evening after dinner, we’ll ask you all if you want hear the plan.  You’re always the most excited about a plan.  “What’s the plan?!  What’s the plan?!” You’re like a “plan cheerleader.”   You (Future-Margot) are probably a list-maker, but it’s a bit too early for lists for Margot-Now.  You’ll probably make lists by the time you’re in kindergarten.

Your body functions on a very predictable schedule, too.   

On the mornings when Papa isn’t home I get up around 4:00 a.m. and start working.  This way I can get at least a couple hours of work done before it’s time to get you all up for breakfast and get ready for the day.  You’re always up first.  Sometime between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. I’ll hear the stairs creak as someone comes down from upstairs.  (yes, those stairs have always creaked which means you’ll never be able to sneak out of the house or back in for that matter, although I don’t think you’re likely to be the one sneaking anywhere)  I look at my watch.  “It’s 5:23 a.m.  It must be Margot.” 

Sitting at the dining room table, I stop typing and wait until you appear in the doorway, bleary-eyed and disheveled.  “Daddy, I want to watch your phone.”  That’s always the first thing you say.  There’s no “Good morning, Daddy” or “Hi, Daddy” or even a mention of breakfast.  It’s always about watching videos on Daddy’s phone.  You and I have come to an understanding about this, however.  You can watch my phone but it has to be something educational, like Word Girl, or Odd Squad or Cat in the Hat.  As long as it’s something on PBS Kids, it’s fine.

So I tuck you in under a warm blanket (the big brown knit one, if you remember it) on the couch in the living room, while it’s still dark outside the living room windows, tap on the PBS Kids app, turn on the guided access (so you don’t switch over to My Little Pony or Shopkins or Elsia & Annia) and give you a bowl of dry Cheerios.  You settle in and I go back to my laptop at the dining room table, just a few steps away.  You and I usually get a little more quiet time before Flynn makes his way downstairs usually around 6:00 am.

Then there’s the other end of the day.  At some point between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., you’ll start getting hungry.  Not just, “I’m bored and I want a snack” hungry.  But the “if you don’t get me some food right now I’m going to go into an irreversible meltdown from which I might not recover and you will thus be made to pay a steep price for not giving me food now” hungry.  At that point it’s time to get dinner on the table, STAT! 

You also know when you’re tired.  At dinner sometimes you’ll announce “I’m tired and I need to go to bed.”  You don’t deny you’re tired.  You don’t fight being tired.  You simply acknowledge that you’re tired and make a plan.  It’s time to go to bed. 

Bedtime is 8:00 p.m.  Or, at least it’s time for the three of you to brush your teeth, get into bed, then get out of bed to turn on and off lights and find your flashlights and the right stuffies and to generally delay bedtime, and then finally have your bedtime songs.  So, usually actual bedtime is closer to 8:30.  You’re always the first one asleep.  Always.  Many nights you’re asleep before Daddy and Papa are even out the door.  Sometimes you don’t even last through bedtime songs.  This recently has become immensely irritating to your sister.  Five minutes after you all have gone to bed, Coco will come out and complain that you’re already asleep.  “It’s not fair!  I can’t sleep.  Margot always goes right to sleep.  It’s not fair!” 

“Boring!”  Your favorite phrase right now is “Boring!” 

There is nothing boring about this girl!
“Margot, I have to go to work.” 

“Margot, you have to go to school.” 

“Margot, it’s time for dinner.”

“Margot, we’re going to the country tomorrow.”

I think you picked it from Rainbow Dash on “My Little Pony:  Friendship is Magic,” which is your favorite show right now.  And Flynn’s favorite show.  And Coco’s too.  All three of you would watch My Little Pony all day if you could get away with it.  Christmas this year was a My Little Pony bonanza.  My Little Pony videos, My Little Pony clothes and more than a dozen My Little Pony figures of varying sizes.  There’s even a My Little Pony mermaid (mer-pony?) around the house somewhere.
You’ve been tidy and organized since you were old enough to pick things up and put them away. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”  Last spring, during your birthday party (and I mean - literally - during your birthday party), you took time to organize the gifts that our guests had left in the entry way.  Apparently they were not orderly enough.  You put them all in a nice straight line – although the line was in the middle of the hallway.  This Christmas you wanted the gifts under the tree to be grouped by who they were for.  Then, after all the gifts were opened on Christmas morning, you asked for a box so that you could put all your gifts together in one place – and keep them safely away from your brother and sister I suspect. 

Thanksgiving 2017

Now, there may also be some hoarding going on here, too.  After your birthday last spring, you put all your gifts into a large shopping bag.  Not a brown paper bag from Safeway, but a super big, double-strength, department store bag.  You packed all your gifts in the bag and then you parked the bag next to your bed as close to you as possible.  And there the bag stayed.  For at least two weeks.   

Two weeks after you parked that bag next to your bed, it ripped.  Of course you needed a new bag (there were tears, after all, when the bag ripped) so I brought a new bag up to your room and emptied everything out of the ripped bag onto your bed.  All the birthday gifts were still there of course.  But there was more.  Dozens of little things, trinkets, small treasures, I guess:  small plastic jewels, miscellaneous stickers, random coins, Hot Wheels, building blocks and various figurines.  For two weeks you had been dropping small treasures into that bag, apparently claiming them as your own.  Fortunately, Santa was watching and for Christmas he brought you two small treasure boxes so that you would have someplace to put all your small treasures and keep them safe.
So, Future-Margot, that’s a bit about yourself at four-and-a-half.  I hope it sounds about right to you.  It’s getting late.  I should probably sign off now and go upstairs to claim my place in the bed.  That’s getting harder and harder to do as you and your brother and sister get bigger.  But we’ll enjoy it while it lasts. 

Bedtime stories in the country
December 2017

Christmas 2017

The Biggest Tree Yet
Christmas 2017

Margot, Eden, Wyatt, Flynn, Jason, Josh and Coco
Christmas 2017

Margot before her first ballet class
September 2017