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Three and a Half


Dear Persephone,

You are three and a half years old today. Last year, on your half-birthday, I cajoled you into giving away two of your toys to Goodwill. I thought we should revisit that concept, so I showed you some photos from back then which I hoped would serve to get you in the spirit. Unfortunately, your immediate reaction was a longing for the stuffed lamb you had given away. You burst into tears. “I want my lamb!” But eventually you came around. Once again I drew pictures for you, showing a girl who had too many toys and a girl who had none. You picked out three toys to give away, and we made a run to the neighborhood Goodwill just before bedtime.

So, now it’s a tradition.

The idea I’m trying to promulgate is not benevolence or philanthropy, fine as those might be. Rather I’m hoping you can learn a bit of detachment from material things. On the way to the Goodwill, we talked about how so many things are more important than physical possessions. You wanted to know, “What is more important?” People, I said. Living things. Beauty. Relationships. Ideas. Love.

I also figured you’re now tall enough to ride the boats at Big Lake in City Park. You’re technically not quite 36″ yet, but with your favorite pink cowgirl boots on, no one can tell. Alas, even though it was my idea to celebrate your half-birthday with a paddle-boat ride, we had Daisy and Lavender along, and there was no room for me in the boat. I stayed on shore. I did catch a nice sunburn though.

Our neighbor Olivia Rose celebrated her first birthday with a big party. All on your own, you picked one of your toys, a plush flower, to give to her — a rose, very appropriate and very sweet.

While we were at that party, you met a woman who admired your name and asked you if you knew about the story behind it. You were very quiet and shy, giving off a distinctly nonverbal babyish vibe, almost like you hadn’t learned to talk. She continued to coax you. “Do you know the story of Persephone?” At last you cocked your head to one side and said, “I have a book of Greek myths.”

Which is true. I’ve been reading myths to you over the last couple weeks, usually before bed. Our nighttime routine hasn’t changed much, but we have made one significant adjustment, at your behest. Instead of book/story/song, the sequence is now book/song/story.

I told you the story of Cinderella one night, substituting you in the title role. I’m not a big fan of the Disney princess phenomenon, but you do love to be “in the story.” However, what with your mother dying and your father disappearing, you found the whole premise rather upsetting, and you burst into tears. Sorry about that.

After your bedtime story, I almost always leave you with a promise to check back in a little bit. You almost always protest, “I’m not tired.” You are usually asleep within the next five minutes. Sometimes you do call me back. One night a few weeks ago, you called me back into your room to say, “Dada, tonight don’t check on me, because I’m asleep now.”

Another night I heard some strange howls coming from your room. When I checked back you told me, “I’m pretending to be an owl. Whoooo! Whooooooooo!” You still like to give a good hoot from time to time.

Owls are cool, but your favorite animals over the past month have been jaguars and opossums. One morning after we got the newspaper, you told me the headline read “Possums Today.” That meant we had to pretend to be an opossum family all day long.

I’ve been baking bread pretty much every Sunday. You like to help and pretend that you’re the Little Red Hen. My first batch of dough on Lammas was a little on the wet side, leading you to exclaim, “My feathers are so sticky!”

I took you to what I believe was your first-ever Sunday morning church service, at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Lakeview. The highlight for you was getting to put a couple quarters in the offering plate.

I occasionally give you my pocket change, which you keep in a little metal box. I think you’ve got about 45 cents in there now. But as you put it, “I have so much money, I’m going to be a princess teacher movie star when I grow up.” A little later you added, “I have to work hard so I can be the world’s bestest girl.”

I think the cutest thing you’ve said all month might be, “You’re going to send me to strawberries!” I believe you meant, “drive me bananas.” But i think I prefer your version.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yes, you also had your first day of school ever. No big deal. Actually you’ve only had two half-days so far, but the transition has been very smooth. Next month I can give you a full report.

Published inLetters to Persephone


  1. rickngentilly rickngentilly

    “You’re going to send me to strawberries!”

    if it’s ok with you and your fam. can we start using this at work?

    a bunch of the cats i work with are from the deep south. we all had grandmas who said stuff like h e double hockey sticks and son of a bisquit.

    it allows us to cuss while not offending our ancestors.

    a real win win.

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