Still coming of age
In just a few short days my daughter will celebrate her 11th anniversary of turning one year old. It’s hard to believe that many years has gone by so quickly but it has whether I choose to believe it or not. It seems like it was just yesterday that I saw her being delivered (no, not Domino’s), saw her face for the first time, take her first breath, open her eyes.
When those eyes opened I was the very first thing she saw. She was delivered, she took a breath, opened her eyes and there I was. I had a huge smile but she did not – she was still getting used to the whole thing.
I will never forget looking into those eyes for the first time, the first time they were ever open. I was in awe then and I am still. I probably always will be. And now that tiny baby is turning twelve; she is tiny no longer and her eyes have seen a great deal, but somehow I am still in awe of her.
A look at the first year
Eleven years ago I wrote a newspaper column detailing her first year. What a difference a few years can make:
Over the last year my daughter learned to eat solid foods, learned to talk (mostly in a language all her own), learned to crawl, and learned to walk (more or less).
It’s been an interesting year, one full of surprises for both of us. I have to keep reminding myself that every day there are things she is seeing that she has never seen before. Every day she is tasting things she has never before tasted (some she is supposed to taste – like new foods and some she is not supposed to taste – like bugs, rocks and leaves). She, like most babies, has started learning by tasting and it’s a constant struggle to keep things out of her mouth that shouldn’t be there.
Over the past month I have fished out of her mouth pieces of carpet, lint, and a hundred other things that are on the ground that are less visible the taller you are. But she sees everything down there because that’s where she is. Sometimes she and the dog race to get something. She loses and the dog loves it.
Yes, I am constantly worried that I’ll never be able to get her “grown up.”
It’s fascinating to watch her look at the world around her and see more and more. Sometimes I’ll be watching her and see her notice something for the first time. At first she glances at it, then looks away. Then she’ll stop, get a puzzled look on her face and look back. Then she stares – hard. You can literally see the wheels in that little head spinning as she struggles to understand it.
For instance, the other day I had her outside with me while I was attempting to bring order to the garage. She was sitting in her stroller, happily drinking from a sipper cup (okay, sipping some and pouring some on the ground) while I was putting things away and talking to her as I worked. Then I noticed her staring at something. I went over to where she sat and stood behind her to see what she was looking at.
I discovered that she was looking at a four-foot long model of a sailing boat my late uncle had made decades ago. She had never seen it before and was trying hard to figure out exactly what it was. Of course it looked a bit familiar because of boats she has in the tub, but this one was big! So I took her over to it so she could get a better picture of it and touch it.
So many things are like that – she sees it then has to see it much closer, touch it, and then file away the knowledge in that growing brain of hers.
And ah, that brain. Aren’t you amazed at how a child’s brain grows, how it functions, how it stores away memories becoming knowledge? Living with that brain of hers, watching it become “her” more and more has to be one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed.
This morning, when she and I were taking her brother to school, she did something and he said “uh, oh.” She then promptly repeated it exactly, tone and everything. He asked, “Dad, did you hear that? She said “uh, oh.”
Of course I did and then he said it again and she repeated it again. This went on all the way to school. Hearing that uh, oh from her little voice had us both laughing and me, again, amazed. Not amazed that it would happen because intellectually I knew (hoped) someday it would, but amazed that it did right then and I heard it. I love the sound of that uh, oh like few things on earth.
In a way I am a bit jealous of her. She is starting new on the road of life and while I’m not yet at the end of that road I have traveled a rather long way on it. She is going to get to see so much, do so much, and be so much. The planet keeps doing more with technology, with science, with medicine and every day new vistas open up for people. Additionally, never before has there been a better time to be a woman. She is not as restricted by her gender – she can go farther, study more, be most anything she wants to be. Hopefully, by the time she gets much older, more sexist beliefs will continue to fall.
Of course, I hope she ultimately is simply happy, but personally, I hope she does great things for this world. I hope she uses her life to further the human race, to aid humanity, to leave the world better than it was when she came in. And I think she can.
You’re one year old (x12), your life is all still ahead. Use it, don’t waste it. Enjoy it, don’t squander it. Savor it, don’t ignore it. It’s going to be one heck of a ride and I’ll always be there – in one way or another – to help.