Cordelia Brown, Age Four (and Some)

Miss Cordelia is now four years, four months and twenty days old, and she is well settled into being four. Four is a year of experimenting with power, and a year of great emotion.

Cordelia still loves to be with Mummy, but she can be pursuaded away by a sufficiently compelling offer. On Sunday Zaida stopped by to take her out. At first when we asked if she wanted to go with him she said, "Mummy!" and clung to me. But when I rephrased the offer—"Don't you want to go on an adventure with Zaida?"—she perked up. "Adventure?" And off she went.

Tonight I was talking her through the plan for tomorrow, as I do every day, and I said my friend Tanya was going to pick her up at school and take her for lunch. She pulled the "Mummy!" thing again, but I said, "Otis [Tanya's little boy] wants you to come play with him," and then she was fine with it.

Cordelia can get herself dressed to go outside all by herself. She's so good at it, in fact, that her teacher wanted to make a PSA video starring her, to try and pursuade kindergarten parents to teach their kids to dress themselves. I don't get to see this skill, however, because when I go into the class to help with mittens and zippers, she becomes all helpless and I have to zip her up. I don't help with boots and snowpants, though, because it is literally easier for her to do it herself—she's gotten competent enough that when I try and help we end up working at cross-purposes and getting in each other's way. So fortunately that's off my plate.

Cordelia has friends! She is friends with Anna, and Zoey, and Scarlett and Samantha. Anna was her first friend of the year, and neither of them will go into the schoolyard without the other. They walk in together, hand-in-hand. Anna is an SK and a good head taller than Cordelia. She's very quiet; we had her over for a playdate and Cordelia was in charge, telling her what to do and when. She was so proud to be the authority.

Cordelia is in swimming class this term. She and Delphine take half-hour classes, first Delphine then Cordelia, so DeeDee hangs out with me by the pool while Delphine has her class. She makes me draw pictures made of shapes, and then she has to count the shapes. Then I draw her name in bubble writing and she colours it in. (When Cordelia has her class, Delphine and I each read our books.)


Today when I picked Cordelia up from school she was crying. I know enough not to ask what was wrong right up front: she has to get some of her crying out before she can talk to me. But her sobs didn't seem to be slowing down, so I asked anyway, and she said she hurt her head. I tried to figure out how she had hurt her head, presenting various possible scenarios—did you trip and run into the wall? Did someone push you?—until she agreed with one. She said she had slipped and fallen into the wall. I didn't see any bumps or scrapes but I was appropriately sympathetic. We picked up Delphine and headed over to Tanya's place, where we have lunch every day.

But just as we got to Tanya's Cordelia started crying again—sobbing! I knew if she'd only bumped her head it would have been forgotten by now, so I asked if something bad had happened at school. She nodded, and after further questioning I got her to say that someone had hurt her, but she wouldn't specify how. She was really miserable, and eventually (after the retching started) I realized that the problem was actually that she was sick. She was nauseous and had a headache—the whole story about someone hurting her and her bumping her head was just her trying to explain to herself why her head hurt. She's never had a headache before! Nonetheless, she insisted on a bandage, so in addition to acetaminophen inside her, she had a nice big bandage plastered over her forehead.

Incidentally, this was the progression of her illness: headache, cry, nap on mummy, puke, cry, rest on mummy, puke, rest in stroller (with Otis next to her looking very dubious), watch Dora, sleep on bathroom floor, sleep on couch, wake up, take acetaminophen, watch Backyardigans, better! The whole thing took less than five hours.


Cordelia's nicknames: DeeDee, Boo, Cordeliaboo, Cordeli-bum, Bootle, Chuckles, Bubbles. Her teacher calls her Cordie.

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