With all the rain we’ve been having lately, the backyard has turned into a water park for the girls. Molly, in particular, loves going outside to play, especially when it is raining. She likes when it is raining really hard best of all. She and Claire will spend hours at a time out there just splashing around and playing with their toys.
They even set up a water park for their My Little Pony toys. The park is inspired by Schlitterbahn and features a giant water slide with a big pool at the end of it. There is also a “natural pond”, which is basically a big puddle. And the Swamp of Doom in the muddy grass area. Claire made a map of the park and even added a snack stand for refreshments (it’s alternately a smoothie place, a fish taco place, or Benny’s Fish ‘n’ Chips).
Molly may be at her most adorable age right now, four and a half years old. A year ago, she was a dopey toddler. In another year, she will be a hearty five year old kid. Right now she is in the middle, no longer a babyish mess but not yet a big kid. Here is a snapshot of what makes Molly adorable right now…
Molly sleeps in a ladybug tent at night. The tent is filled with stuffed animals and about 80 magazines.
Molly vaguely resembles Mike Wazowski. Luckily, though, Molly does have two eyes.
Molly calls peanuts “peanut butter nuts”.
Molly often wears her “M” cape with a princess costume and a tiara. She calls this “Super Molly”.
Molly sincerely believes that her “M” cape makes her go faster.
Molly will only wear dresses that twirl properly.
Molly plays along with Dora the Explorer when the show prompts you for an answer. We often hear her loudly yelling things like “Purple!” at the computer.
Molly judges things primarily by their color, with pink and purple being the best colors. Luckily, this approach does not apply to people.
Molly says “No fair!” a lot.
Molly clambers a lot. She clambers into her dining chair, onto her bed, etc. (Clamber: to climb, move, or get in or out of something in an awkward and laborious way, typically using both hands and feet.)
Molly believes that the Disney princesses are real. She was initially confused by the idea of Disney World and Disney Land. Which one do the real princesses live at? Then she figured it out: “Disney World has the real people, and Disney Land has puppets.”
You will commonly find Molly wandering the house wearing nothing but skivvies and sparkly shoes, and sometimes only the shoes.
Molly always says her sister’s name as two syllables, “Cla-aire”.
Molly loves her big sister. They spend a lot of time playing and hanging out on the weekends. Yesterday, Claire went off for a playdate for a couple of hours. Molly quickly got bored without Claire around and said, sadly, “What am I supposed to do now?” Molly later stated that she really likes being with Claire.
Molly always smells good, even when she is hot and sweaty. Well, not always; she is sometimes gassy — then look out!
Molly has been doing pretty well sleeping in the same room as Claire. Molly is letting Claire get to sleep, and after quietly “reading” leftover magazines (Austin Family, Parent & Child) and catalogs (Oriental Trading Company, Pottery Barn Kids) for a while, Molly gets to sleep eventually too.
But a new round of bedtime madness has come up recently. This round involves not just being loud and keeping Claire awake, but some rather rude behavior too. While Claire is trying to get to sleep, Molly has tried everything to keep her awake, including hitting Claire with a magic wand, hitting her with her lovie, stealing Claire’s blankets and stuffed animals, and finally last night, spitting on her. Yes, spitting. Sometimes Claire partakes in some silly talk and giggling, but this aggressive stuff pushes her over, and she comes to get us for help. We think maybe Molly did not initially realize that spitting is not okay, but now she does.
When things get bad, it’s “guest room city” for Molly. That phrase usually makes the girls giggle. So Molly has been moved into the guest room a lot lately to sleep. Molly takes “all 72 of her magazines”, as I call her stack, and settles down pretty quickly when in there alone. And Claire falls asleep within a few minutes.
With Kit on vacation, Molly has been able to sleep in late (7:00 or so) for the last couple mornings. We think this is making her less tired and more aggressive at night. Molly got up early with Claire like usual today, even a little early at 6:05 for Claire’s before-school handwriting club, and hopefully it’s not guest room city tonight.
Tonight, Claire volunteered to put Molly to sleep. Claire was not just talking about reading a book to Molly and tucking her in. Claire insisted that she would help get Molly completely ready for bed: get her dressed in her night gown, help her brush her teeth, read her a story, etc. Claire said that way I could go work while she took care of Molly. (I am always trying to find time to get things done around here, and Claire has picked up on this.)
Molly loved the idea. Claire and Molly were a good team. Bedtime went surprisingly well. It only took a little bit of prodding to keep them on track. And I actually did get some work done while Claire took care of Molly, which meant I was not up quite as late working. Thank you, Claire!
The next night, Claire volunteered to put Molly down again. It was a bath night, which is much trickier. But Claire insisted. That night did not go quite as well as the previous night. After 45 minutes, they were both still in the bath, and Molly was really worked up, jumping, giggling, laughing, etc. This is pretty normal for bedtime, but it was one notch even more than usual. Eventually the screams of joy from down the hall got to be too much to take; I was not getting any work done that night. I had to go in and break it up. Kit and I split up the kids and got things nearly back on track. The girls were nearly in a frenzy. How many times have I said it… bath nights are tricky!
Claire did not volunteer to put Molly to bed the next night.
Part of Molly’s bedtime routine is to sit on the toilet for a while. She actually loves her toilet time. She pulls up a step stool with a stack of books and sits on the toilet and looks at her books. Normally we have to put an end to her toilet time after a few minutes because she is just relaxing but not getting ready for bed. But tonight while Molly was browsing books on the toilet, I went off for a minute to check in with Kit. When I got back to Molly, she was yelling, “I went to the potty! I made urine!” Now, Molly has been known to have an active imagination at times, but I did not get the sense she as making this up. She was grinning ear to ear and super excited.
I congratulated Molly on her fine toilet work. After wiping and washing hands, we went back to tell Kit and Claire. Kit screamed really loudly with delight and started jumping around. Molly got super excited too and started doing the same. Personally, I was excited too, but my ears were literally ringing from all the noise. Molly was so proud, though! She said she wanted underwear now, and she thought Santa would know she used the toilet.
Claire, who was in a grouchy mood, initially tried to be excited but get a little irritated, maybe from the noise and/or maybe a little hint of sibling rivalry. This was the first small whiff of sibling rivalry we have ever seen from Claire in her 3 and a half years as a big sister. Claire complained that we were screaming too loud, and we are always asking her and Molly to quiet down if they are anywhere near that loud. (She had a really good point. We were really quite loud.) Claire also said, sourly, “I but you’re going to email everyone in the world!” and then left the room. Later she could complain about having to go out in the hall with just Muffin and her last remaining fish to get some quiet. We had a certain amount of recognizing that Claire uses the toilet many times a day, and nobody ever says anything about it, but when she first did it as a toddler, we were really excited for her. Molly was feeling sympathetic and started a “Claire used the potty!” chant and dance.
Claire and Molly have a good time in those precious unoccupied times after school or on the weekends. They often run up to their room and come up with some silliness, which this time, for once, I captured on video.
If you are curious about the sound in the background, it is the audiobook of “How to be a Pirate” by Cressida Cowell.
This was one of those great Saturday mornings when the kids slept in, and Kit and I were able to just dose until 7:30 or 8:00. Eventually we heard the tell-tale giggling from the girls’ room. The girls were certainly together in Molly’s crib having their weekend-morning wake-up fun. When we finally walked into their room, this is what we found.
Somehow Claire had convinced, or Molly had asked, to be put into the Annie costume. Luckily, Molly looked much more happy in the oversized costume than Claire did when she first got it for her fifth birthday. Another morning the girls followed a similar drill, but that time Molly’s crib was piled high with every stuffed animal in the room. I can’t wait to see what the come up with next.
We went over to Pease Park this morning, as we often do on the weekends. At the park, Claire met another girl of similar age on the playground, and after a certain amount of persistence, Claire got the other girl to play with her. Whenever we go to the park, there is almost always one other about girl Claire’s age, and they always hit it off, at least after some initial sizing up. Claire’s technique used to be to simply ask the girl, “Do you want to play with me?” Now she has refined her approach. She followed the other girl around the playground, suggesting different play ideas until she finally hooked the other girl into playing. This one was a tough customer, a being a little shy and wrapped up in her new barbie bike, but eventually Claire snagged her.
As a sample of how this kind of thing goes, here is how it went today…
Claire had brought along some of her books to the park, and the winning idea this time around was to pretend that they had secretly stolen some books from the library. I, being the nearest adult, was obviously cast as the librarian. I gave myself the name Mr. Potter. I explained that they were free to check the books out of the library and didn’t have to sneak them out. But that was a silly suggestion. What fun would that be? That is such crusty adult thinking! There would be no drama if they simply checked out some books. That is no kind of game at all. No, they snuck the books out.
To add to the drama, they had also snuck some books away from a teacher. I suggested Molly, who was wondering around babbling, could be the teacher. I asked Claire what the teacher’s name was. Claire instantly came up with Mrs. Katrune. So there was poor Mrs. Katrune (Molly) wandering around the playground looking for her missing books. Claire and her friend got to hide the books and run away when Mrs. Katrune approached, and all other manner of fun. In truth they were very careful with the books, although they made some dramatic references to the books getting damaged. I occasionally put up a protest that I needed my books back, or they better at least check them out properly!
Eventually, this game ran its course, and the girls ran around and did swings, etc. Eventually even that ran its course, and they tried to figure out ways to make each other giggle. At one point, the other girl briefly pulled her pants down, causing a roar from herself and Claire. Claire thought this was cool and started to do the same. I had to step in and stop the madness. This was technically a new, previously unstated rule: keep your pants on in the park! The other girl’s dad, who had been absorbed by his own toddler as well, came over at that point and reinforced the keep-you-pants-on rule. The girls continued to push the limits in less risqué ways, such as running to the edge of the park close to the road. Molly was also getting especially reckless as this point, and it was clearly time to leave.
So there is it, the ups and downs of a day at the park with the girls. It was a fun, delightful, perplexing day at the park which really needed to end about 20 minutes ago.