Portrait of play, week 42


The wind picked up and acorns shot out of the sky like hail, pelting the roof and the windows with syncopated pings. Leaves were floating down as well with much less urgency or direction than the acorns. Fall is really the most glorious time of the year, especially in the south where the sun still provides warmth, even though the mornings are chilly. The sounds outside reminded me that I needed to take down the diapers that had been hanging on the line for two days. It’s been nothing but bright sunshine this week, so a little extra bleaching from the sun was in order (or at least served as an excellent excuse to not take the laundry down the day before). As I carried Winnie out to the deck with me, I asked Charlotte to bring something out for Winnie to play with so she wouldn’t eat the leaves and acorns. When Charlotte came out, she had a toy for Winnie and a toy for her baby doll, who she was carrying, along with a blanket and a diaper bag. After setting them down, she had to run back inside to grab her baby’s potty. Usually Charlotte helps me with the laundry, but today she had to “babysit” instead. Luckily for me, she said she would babysit Winnie as well while I took the diapers down. Charlotte has been “babysitting” Winnie for me a lot lately. Whenever I need to leave the room (to go to the bathroom for instance), Charlotte assures me she will watch Winnie. When I come back, she tells me that Winnie was “listening” and that “she didn’t cry.” Seeing Charlotte’s growing sense of responsibility towards her sister and Winnie’s increasing interest in Charlotte makes every bit of the transition of adding a second child to the family so worth it. Winnie has been having a hard time at the gym daycare lately. Separation anxiety and new skills in mobility have disrupted her sleep as well as her social life, but the teachers said that at this last visit, Winnie was fine as long as she had her sister. They said she’d get a sad face and then search around for Charlotte. For real?! Heart eyes emoji feelings all over the place. For all the times Charlotte is too rough, too “helpful,” and too purposefully and sneakily bothersome to Winnie, Winnie is the first and last thing on her mind in any given day. While I was busy taking down diapers, Charlotte was plucking leaves out of Winnie’s mouth and setting up a blanket for her baby doll April. She put a bib on Winnie and gave her a doll bottle and did the same with April (although April got some juice instead). I was surprised that she had two of everything packed in that diaper bag of hers; she is always prepared. After Charlotte helped April use the potty, she dressed her in some jammies with my help. Then, she took her baby to the babysitter in the hammock while she had ballet (“barret”) lessons. After her lessons, she picked up April and snuggled her on the hammock for awhile before making a jumping game out of the pool and the hula hoop. She was finished with the jumping game after slipping too many times in the pool (I tried to warn her about those tights). With her baby back in her arms, Charlotte put a hat on the doll and said it was her bear costume for Halloween. Winnie watched it all, completely enamored with Charlotte’s every move. She does her best to keep up with her big sister and has bruises on her forehead to prove her determination. I’m sure someday this admiration will turn into competition, but for now, I’ll enjoy the way Winnie breaks into giggles and gummy grins when Charlotte entertains her with her silly games and fancy ballet moves.



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