It may seem selfish, but my kids’ birthdays always become a moment of reflection for me. They are milestones and milestones usually have that impact on a person, no matter if they want it or not. Yet, as first years go, this one seemed to speed past, leaving a soul wondering where all of the time went and why it had to go by so fast. Here are nine of my initial thoughts on her birthday and the last year…
1. I have heard that many say when your babies age, it makes a parent feel older. That has yet to be the case for me. Maybe I have a touch of the Peter Pan/young at heart thing going you see in the movies, but having kids has made me reclaim bits and pieces of my own youth. I wear brightly colored shoes now, I know all about superheroes, and I can read Fox in Socks incredibly fast. To be honest, I like being this guy, I like being a dad. In a way, it is a gift my kids gave to me… If that doesn’t sound too Hallmarky.
2. The thing I find fascinating about being a parent is how quickly you get used to your child at their current age. In a way, it is like you are growing with them, not jumping into stage after stage as people do when they only occasionally see little ones (Usually followed by saying “Wow, look at how much bigger you are!”). The fact my daughter is now walking and starting to talk, is all very natural. Yet, when I take a few minutes to consider just last year at this time she was a tiny little newborn, the brain staggers.
3. I have two kids and it is stunning to me how quickly I realized the differences between my kids’ personalities. Beyond the obvious gender differences and what that entails, they are very different people. My little girl is very independent and harder to make laugh. That’s not to say she isn’t happy, she is amused by everything. You just have to work to get the little baby giggle out of her; while my son always seems to be laughing and silly. When I would drop my son off someplace he would be upset. My daughter walks away, sometimes merely waving goodbye to me over her shoulder. Frankly, I feel the departure more than her.
4. No matter what present or toy I hand my daughter she will always discard it in a second for whatever her brother has. I love watching this. When he is playing cars, she is usually next to him, with a few for herself, racing along him. When he has a superhero toy, she is usually crawling around the ground trying to find one for herself. She has learned his games and stories he acts out with his toys. She is the Robin to his Batman. I love that.
5. I never had a sister, nor had much experience growing up with girls, so having a daughter has been a little eye opening for me, especially in regards to the “pink” aisle at the toy stores. I know sooner or later I am going to write an editorial on this topic when I have more time to research and collect my thoughts, but it is a problem in my opinion. Are there really any learning/educational toys in that aisle? Not that I could see. Is everything around being a housewife, dressing up, and dolls? Yes. I find that very troubling in this day and age; it feels so 1950’s.
6. I know my daughter is a girl and people talk about girls in a certain fashion different than boys, I get that. But she is one; seriously she doesn’t need a boyfriend. Yet, at the daycare (and even sometimes with my wife) I get jokes about this boyfriend or that. Everyone needs to take a breath. She is a baby. She is not going to be able to date until she is 16, so let’s stop with the boyfriend jokes… I mean, 18…. Heck, let’s just wait on the whole dating thing until she is done with college… with a Ph.D.
7. When it comes to my son, I could not be prouder of him as the older brother. Wow, he really stepped up to the plate. Maybe it helped that when he first met his little sister in the hospital she had a new Batman helicopter waiting for him. What seriously makes a better hello than that for a three-year old new brother? Yet, as the year has gone by, he has really played with her, hugged her, protected her. They go to the same daycare, and from what they tell me at the school, he stops by all the time to say hi to her in her room. Like I said, I am really proud of him. I really hope they can keep this relationship going for… well… at least through the teenage years; he will probably need to drive her to school.
8. With each of my kids I really felt the turn of the tide in the generations. See, when my son was born my grandmother died 9 months later… And when my daughter was born, I then lost my grandfather 9 months later. While I love the idea that my grandparents each got to see a new great-grandchild, it does add some melancholy looking back over the time. Their first years will always have that element of loss in my reflection. And with both of my grandparents gone, it definitely makes me feel that much more the adult and parent. This is in my hands now; they are in my hands. When my grandfather died, my dad wanted to give me my grandfather’s wedding band. I thought for sure it wouldn’t fit, since in my memory his hands were so big… But the ring fit, it fit perfectly.
9. My favorite time of the day has become early morning, sometimes between 5:30 and 6 AM. This is the time when my daughter has woken up, but the rest of the house is still fighting to stay asleep. Typically, this is the time I get up with her, and it feels special to me; these quiet moments just the two of us playing, exploring, talking, listening to music and dancing, or reading a book together. All this activity as the house slumbers and the sky turns from black to gray to light to blue. I know that these mornings are what I am going to think of first when I remember back on my little clever girl.