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Forty-Four Months

A Song for the Dead

Dear Persephone,

You are forty-four months old today. I am forty-four years old. I guess that means I’m roughly twelve times as old as you.

Your big dramatic moment of the last month came when you locked yourself in the bathroom. It was on a Saturday morning. You went into the bathroom, insisting that you can do it all by yourself. “I don’t need any help, I just need some privacy.” This has been your habit lately. I’d noticed the day before that you’d actually shut the bathroom door, and I thought to myself, not a good idea, but I didn’t do anything about it. Saturday morning you also shut the door, but this time it was locked. Your mother tried everything she could to spring you, but to no avail. You were pretty upset. Finally she called me; I was out giving a walking tour of the Lafitte Corridor. I ran home as fast as I could. In the end we had to send your mother in through the window. Afterward we has a lesson on how to operate the thumb-turn, and also on the wisdom of leaving the door ajar.

A couple weeks ago, when it was time for bed, you protested that it was “not fair!” It was the first time I’ve heard you complain about fairness. You must have picked that concept up at school because I don’t think we have ever talked about fairness at home. I smiled to myself, because I know this is a refrain I’ll be hearing repeatedly in the years ahead.

Speaking of bedtime, we have been reading from Andrew Lang’s Red Fairy Book just before lights out. Actually, just after lights out: I use a flashlight for the reading. This book was a gift from local artist Jane Brewster. (When we were at Fall Fest at the Botanical Garden this weekend we saw Jane and she let you pick out one of her artworks as a gift. You chose Moon Over Bywater.) I thought it would be over your head, and while it’s a stretch, I think you’re just old enough to enjoy it. You do interrupt sometimes to ask questions about terms you don’t recognize. I think the fact that you don’t completely understand what’s going on helps lull you into sleepiness.

A couple nights ago, as I was tucking me in, you offered the following:

We love our bread,
We love our butter,
We love each other,
But most of all,
We love our blankets.

You’re having a good time in pre-K3, but it’s already time to start thinking about next year. We’d like to get you in a public school. Earlier this week we went to an open house for a local school, a public charter with which your mother and I are fairly impressed. We toured the facility, met some teachers, and really liked everything we saw and heard, and everything we’ve been hearing for the last year or two. The only bad news is that there will be a lottery, and the odds are against you (or any given child) getting in. We will apply and hope for the best. We will also be applying at a number of other schools. They all have a different application process, even though they are all public schools in Orleans Parish. Such is the state of our school “system” after the floods of 2005. It’s going to require a good amount of research and preparation, but it’s worth it, considering how much of the next phase of your life will be shaped by your school. I’m trying to stay on top of this without getting too anxious about it.

After the equinox, we revived our habit of cemetery picnics. You love them. I was surprised to learn that this was once a popular activity in Victorian times, and may be making a comeback. We sought and found the grave of Maunsell White, and took a photo to fill a Find A Grave request.

As we prepared to head home, we heard birds singing in the trees. “Maybe they’re singing a song for the dead,” you said. We went home and listened to Fauré’s Requiem. It was a beautiful day.

Published inLetters to PersephonePix

One Comment

  1. Beth Beth

    This is a lovely letter, Bart. These will be such a gift to your daughter when she gets older. Thanks for writing.

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