During this visit to Anchorage, I attended Lady Baby’s music “class” – toddlers and their parent in a big circle, clapping and moving, learning about rhythm. Once I took her to the Imaginarium, a space at the Anchorage Museum full of child-size wonders, but most days we stayed home.
One day I thought I’d keep track of our activities and be able to write a Lady Baby day minute-by-minute (in an attempt to account for my day). So I made an iPhone voice memo at breakfast, roughly transcribed here: “It’s 9:05 a.m. and we are eating breakfast. Toast with butter for Lady Baby, toast with honey for me, and tea. For her, oatmeal with yogurt and fruit, and for me oatmeal with rice milk and fruit. On the table is a New Yorker being investigated page by page. We have um huum….” The sound of a chortle and that’s the end of my attempt to record anything specific.
I might have added that we both glance at the newspaper, though Lady Baby has lost interest since the Iditarod ended (then she could always point to a picture of a woof-woof). Her own woof, Lady Cora, is stationed down below the table. Sweeping the floor after breakfast is never necessary.
9:30 a.m. (already this gets imprecise): we work our way into Downtown Abbey’s office/playroom, a sunny and large space Lady Baby shares with Mrs. Hughes. A little climbing structure with slide and steps provides a chance for many ups and downs and ins and outs. At a “just the right size” table, Lady Baby dumps her box of dominoes, takes apart her stacking cups and hands individual ones to me, sometimes adding a domino. We try out the oversized markers that make color dots on the paper covering her table.
A turtle-shaped wading pool is temporarily full of lightweight balls, and while Lady Baby sits in their midst, we spend a while emptying it – and refilling. A Ball jar stuffed with multi-colored tongue depressors is good for 20 minutes of taking out and putting in (accompanied by that familiar concentration hum of hers). Then she wheels her perfectly sized grocery cart around a little, rarely allowing anything to be put into it. If you do offer something, she removes the offending object.
What is she thinking? I ask myself that so often because much of her activity seems definite and purposeful. She has opinions, her mom says.
And the ability to say “no!” In the case of Lady Baby, a shake of the head and an emphatic, short burst of “Nah!” is unmistakable.
At 11:30 lunch gets agreement, and we head to the kitchen. Lady Baby pulls out several baking trays and sits on one with great deliberation. She eats her lunch and all the bowtie pasta from my soup, but says “Naht!” to the soup’s collards or lentils, handing each back to me. A nap, a walk outside with many puddles, parents home, dinner, bath, and bed.
A totally ordinary, totally wonderful day is done.