Holidays as a Four-Year-Old

How was your weekend? My dad and aunt came to visit, and Toby, who has been getting into cooking, created a breakfast menu to present to them each morning. I asked him what he wanted to name it (“Toby’s kitchen?” “Café Toby?” I suggested), but he paused for a moment and then said, “No, Mama…it will be Peter Frankies.”
We listed everything we could make with the ingredients in our fridge. It’s funny because I remember making these kinds of menus as a child, don’t you? I don’t remember anything about babyhood, but now that Toby is four, I suddenly feel like I’m reliving my own childhood: Playing restaurant games. Talking to imaginary friends. Believing steadfastly in Santa Claus. (The other night, I challenged Toby to name four people in our family. His ready answer: “Grandma, Daddy, Santa and Anton.”) And reading The Polar Express (and random books like this!) brings that childhood feeling right back, it’s crazy.
What about you? Do your kids ever give you flashbacks to your own childhood? I really love it. Hope your holiday is off to a great start! xo

P.S. Last year’s tree—the boys were so teeny!

  1. I love this post. It’s so sweet to see what your guys are up to and you’re totally right about reliving childhood memories.

  2. My son was a bit naughty at preschool yesterday, and he pretended to write a letter to Santa last night, confessing he’d been naughty. “Dear Santa, Today I didn’t do good listening at school, and I used some not-nice words.”

  3. OMG! I can’t stop laughing! I love Peter Frankies, it’s my new favorite restaurant!!!

  4. Peter Frankies is the best cafe name ever. Love it!

  5. I honestly love that name!! If I ever open a restaurant I will ask Toby if I can have the name it Peter Frankie’s! NO JOKE! ha ha. He is the best

  6. I did that as a child too, but only had one dish – carrot and celery casserole, which was just broken up, raw veg with salt and pepper. Toby’s resto will get much more business, I think (and I love the name – I’d eat at Peter Frankie’s!)

  7. Sadly, when my teenage daughter is fighting against me or giving me an attitude, I can see myself at her age. Then I think, “She’s not as bad as I was.” It helps me cool off a bit. But something thats happened to me the last couple of years, is that I can remember my mom when she was my age, and all I keep thinking is, “I am my mother!” And so the story goes.

  8. I absolutely did this as a kid. But the only thing on my menu was “soup” made of ranch dressing with croutons mixed in. My poor parents!

  9. i have a 4yo daughter and 2yo son, we decorated our tree last night. my daughter was amazed by each and every ornament that she placed on the tree- for me it was like seeing them all for the first time and all of the magic they hold.

  10. Peter Frankies – that is so cute! I do have flashbacks (we’re reading the Berenstain Bears!) but motherhood offers another perspective. Like, Matilda was awesome when I was a child because she didn’t need any adults (until Miss Honey) but as a mom, I feel a little sad for her. Or, watching Home Alone, to be Kevin and “beat the bad guys” and order your own pizza would be so cool when you watch as a child, but now I identify more with the mom character and how awful I would feel.

  11. Love this! We use to have a hair salon when I was a kid (called “Salon Brick”), and a school. I was the teacher (I have 3 younger siblings), and I made them do homework and everything!

  12. Hilarious name for his restaurant — reminds me of something that would come out of one of those brooklyn restaurant name generator websites :)

  13. I’m loving the fact that Santa is a close relative!!!! Excellent thinking Toby – and i will be putting his restaurant on my list for when in NYC next year! Can he do some gf dishes for me?!!!!!

  14. oh my goodness, he looks so grown-y!! what a hilarious name for a restaurant – sounds like a cool Italian restaurant I think! My kids bring me back to my childhood every Christmas more so than any other holiday bc it’s such a magical time. I wish it could feel like Christmas all year round… without the damage it does to my wallet:))

  15. dc says...

    Thanks for making me smile Toby!! Peter Frankie’s=perfect :D

  16. So sweet. My 6 year-old daughter did the same for my mom when she was in town last week. Made a restaurant and, of all things, called it “Febe’s” (Pheobe’s). We don’t know any Pheobes. So funny. And so fun.

  17. jm says...

    Love this post. I want to order from Peter Frankie’s – too cute!

  18. I’m 18 so I don’t have any kids, but I have a little brother 7 years younger than me. I remember I came home from school one day and he asked me to spell “iCup,” which I remember telling all my friends to do when I was in elementary school myself (“i-c-u-p” AKA “I see you pee”). The nostalgia!! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  19. I’ve been resisting to comment on your blog for months now, because I’m lazy to take the trouble for posting a comment, but there has been many occasions when I melted in front of the screen seeing photos of Toby, Anton or you.

    Toby is such a beautiful, sweet little boy, you must be so blessed to be his mother. And you are a great mom for documenting all these lovely moments!

  20. Toby is such a sweetheart. I definitely made restaurant menus as a kid. My Nana kept one from my childhood that she particularly liked. It had a wine menu included and the wines listed were “white” and “grape.” Ha. I didn’t know much about wine, but I knew my nana loved it, so must be included!

  21. We don’t have kids yet, but hope to start trying in the next year. My husband and I both love to cook, and always talk about how excited we are to cook with our kids and see what they like. I’ve worked for years to perfect my bolognese recipe (, just because I love the thought of having a special meal that my kids request and even crave once they’re grown.
    I think 3 and 4 year olds are pretty much the most fun ever!

  22. He’s so incredibly creative! He’s going to be the family novelist – how fantastic.

    My kids make everything seem so new. They remind me of feelings I had, but not really things I used to do, at least not yet (they’re not quite 3 and 1). But the intensity of the feelings – that I remember.

  23. Joanna! I think its time for the next “conversations with a 4 year old”. haha i love them! <3
    Hope you and Caroline have a great holiday season with family and friends!

  24. amy, OMG, YES!!!!!!! hahahaha i am laughing out loud reading your comment. toby is forever saying, “oh, we don’t have sandwiches,” and “oh, we don’t have soup…” i’m like, what DO you have?! hahaha so funny. would be curious what a child psych would say about why kids do that!

  25. So cute! My 5 year-old loves to play “cafe”. The problem is, nothing is ever available! She takes our order with her little pad and pencil, then tells us that they’re out of whatever we order. Maybe it’s the only sort of power that she can hold over us, telling us that the last of the imaginary empanadas and chocolate cake were sold to the customer before us? Do any other kids do this?

  26. This is quite possibly one of my favorite Cup of Jo posts to date (and exactly the reason why I love this blog so much)! So authentic, so simple, so sweet. This really shows who you are Joanna, and makes me smile. You find ways to make the most everyday things seem special, and I totally remember doing this when I was a kid, just like Toby. I loved having a pretend grocery store in the spare bedroom with my brother. My parents would save empty serial boxes and paper towel tools, rinse out cans, etc., and we’d use my cash register and Trader Joe’s paper bags at the check out. Thanks for sharing. :)

  27. Makes me think of the four year old I work with–we’re constantly talking about all the members of his family: what they like to eat (our specific conversation recently was who in the family likes chocolate) , how many of them there are, etc.

    Today we spent all day talking about the Elf on the Shelf, have you heard of it? There’s a book and a little toy elf who you hide around the house, and the book talks about how he reports back to Santa each night. I think the magic might be wearing off, because A was quite insistent today that the elf couldn’t see him when he was in the other room. We had to re-explain how the elf magic works ;)

  28. betsy, totally!! did you ever try to make food look “professional”? i also remember asking my mom if my creations looked “professional” — the highest praise!

  29. kate, i have no idea! but it totally sounds like a brooklyn restaurant.

  30. My babes are 9 years and 3 years, 361 days (HA!). They make everything seem so much more interesting.

  31. My man and I are at the point where we feel bad for our friends who can’t come out anymore and still view going to Target on a Saturday morning as a form of birth control. Nothing like that one child you can hear screaming from every corner of the store to convince you that you and your nerves aren’t ready yet.

    BUT… posts like this remind me exactly how much a really do want kids and always have deep down. The moments that make your heart swell, even just reading about them second hand, are what get me.

    I was really big into plating food at Toby’s age. Everyone’s plate had to be “pretty” before I would deem it ok to be put on the table. Toby and little Betsy could have run a mean cafe ;-)

  32. I have moments like this all the time ! My kids are teens now and are going through all sorts of teen issues that I went through. It brings back such powerful feelings . X

  33. LOL Peter Frankie’s- too funny! Where did that come from I wonder?

  34. Too cute! I also remember making up a restaurant when I was little, much to the surprise of my mother, whom I informed would be the chef for all of the neighbors I’d just invited over. :)

    Love watching Toby grow!