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


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