When you have three sweet, loving, intelligent, beautiful girls, each day is a boundless treasure of joy, wonder and other stuff.

6:47 a.m.

There's not much of a buffer zone between sleep and wakefulness. That tends to happen when a 5-year-old sits on your chest, grabs your upper and lower eyelashes, and yanks them apart.

"Are you up?" Grace asks.

"What do you think?"

"You weren't moving or making any noise."

"Weren't," I said. "I am now."

"You are now."

"We'll talk about verb tense later. Can you get off me?"

Grace's face is pressed against mine. All I can see are her eyeballs. They're an incredibly deep shade of blue, but they can be disconcerting this close up. I can see every rod and cone, the optic nerve and vitreous sac. It's a scary sight. From a millimeter away, there's nothing funny about the aqueous humor.

She rolls off.

"Give me a kiss," I ask.

"Daaad! Uh!" Grace smacks her head like a V-8 commercial. "I can't do that every morning. This is my busy time. I have so much to do right now. Breakfast, get dressed, hair, brush my teeth, get my backpack … "

"Please … ?" I beg.

"Maybe tomorrow."

7:30 a.m.

No kids for the next seven hours, but it feels like five minutes.

2:12 p.m.

Annie comes home. I can hear her sighs and OMGs from several blocks away.

"You won't even believe this. Seriously. My teachers. Are. So. Dumb. We had a test on Unit Four in History? It's, like, not even important. I mean, the War of 1812? Hello? Who's even heard of that, right? Come on. And my Lang teacher? She's so unfair. We had a pop quiz and she didn't even tell us about it. I mean, why? Poetry is boring. And stupid. Okay? Come on. Pajama Day's tomorrow. Make sure you wash my blue and orange onesie. The principal is a moron. I'm serious - "

Hi ! I wanted to say. Or What's up? but she didn't give me a chance.

3:17 p.m.

Maura drops Grace off and goes to the gym.

"Do you want a snack?" I ask.

"Yes!"

"What?"

"Cookies!" Grace frowns, staring at the door Maura just walked through. "But don't ask Mom if I'm allowed to. I am. Really. I'm not lying. I didn't have a lot of treats at school."

"Okay."

"So you don't have to call her and ask because, if you did, she'd say I could have cookies."

"How about a banana?"

"Alright … " Grace stares at the floor, dejected.

"Wash up first."

Grace runs to the bathroom. (We're trying to get her to stop running in the house, but so far it hasn't worked.)

The doorbell rings. I walk over and open the door. The UPS man. I sign for the package.

"Hi!" Grace is waving to the UPS man from the bathroom, which is in view of the front door. She's not washing her hands. She's sitting on the toilet.

I make eye contact with the UPS man. "We're, uh, usually a lot classier than this."

"Sure, right."

We're trying to get Grace to shut the door when she goes to the bathroom. The waving is new. I didn't think we needed a rule about not waving to strangers when you're on the toilet.

4:22 pm

Kate comes home. I see her friends waving from the sidewalk. She'll be in high school next year, with her big sister. She's very self-sufficient. No complaints. No nagging required to get her to do homework.

"How was your day?" I ask.

"Great! How was yours?" Kate gives me a big hug.

"Not bad."

"I made you something in art."

She takes a plastic binder from her backpack and removes a sheet of construction paper. Her art looks like the thing it's supposed to represent, not a dead bug on the windshield. A self-portrait in black and white - poignant, accurate, expressive.

"Wow," I say, "That's great."

"Thanks." Kate fidgets a bit. "Oh, yeah. I need a new binder for Math."

"Okay. I think I might have one around here somewhere."

"And … " She looks at the floor. Uh-oh. That's a bad sign. "Some loose-leaf. And pencils. And a trifold for the Science Fair. 36x48."

"You need all this when?" I ask.

"Tomorrow."

"I don't have time, Kate."

"I'll get a bad grade … "

"How long have you known about this?"

"I don't know. Just a little while. Only about two months."

Kate's 13. She's been doing the same thing ever since she was in pre-K. I can remember doing the same thing at her age.

"Are you mad?" she asks.

"A little. But it's okay."

"Good." Kate smiles. "Also, I broke my computer last night and I need it for homework, so you should probably buy a new one of those, too."

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Wine, dinner, conversation.

Wine, music, cleaning up.

7:17 p.m.

Espresso and a book. Winding down. Annie leaps down the stairs. I've stopped trying to get her not to.

"Dad? I need to go to CVS and print some pictures ."

My response has been redacted.

7:22 p.m.

We're at CVS now.

"What's taking so long?" I ask. "You said you only needed to print two photos."

"Yeah, but I have about two hundred. I mean four hundred. I need to look through them all."

"You couldn't have done that at home?"

"Sorry. I will next time."

"That's what you said last time. And the time before that."

"Do some shopping," Annie suggests. "This will only take an hour or so."

"You've got 20 minutes. If it takes any longer, you're walking home."

"Okay," Annie says. "Can you get me a candy bar?"

"Are you kidding me?"

I buy her a candy bar.

I eat it. I buy her another one.

8:32 p.m.

Home. The espresso is cold. I can't find my bookmark. Grace crawls into my lap. "I didn't take your bookmark. In case you were wondering."

"You know, it makes you look guilty if you deny something before you're even accused of it."

"I'm sorry, Daddy. You look tired. Do you want that hug and kiss now? From this morning?"

"Sure."

"Sorry I couldn't give it to you before, but I'm busy now that I'm a kindergartener. Ugh. I sure need a break, you know what I mean?"

"I do, honey. Come here."

We hug. I fall asleep. Grace carries me up to bed.