Her blue eyes twinkle in the sunlight and a sly smile forms at the corners of her mouth. Her shirt, which may be close to being a size too small, rides up as she tries to straighten her back against the door frame. Her chestnut brown hair falls in little ringlets at her shoulders as she tries to squeeze a few more centimeters out of the measurement.
She raises her little feet off the ground while I gently remind her to keep them flat. “How much I grow?” she asks me desperate for me to show her how big she has become but I’m just not willing.
She is our last child and she is growing too fast.
I’ve been a late adopter of many things with her. Hesitant to transition from breast milk to regular milk, slow to move on from bottles to sippy cups no matter how much I hated cleaning the bazillion parts they had. Before I knew it, she was in a real bed and the crib we have had since our first child was off to another family who was expecting.
I was sad to see the binky go and frankly, though I know she should be potty trained by now at three, I am still hanging on to her being our baby by allowing her to wear diapers. I am an enabler. It is because I am having a hard time letting my baby grow up.
I love seeing her becoming who she will be. Between our three children, each has been so different and distinct in their likes and dislikes that only their striking blue eyes seem to connect them. I know in my heart that they can’t stay puppies forever and that I now have to live vicariously through others who still have babies.
While I tease my wife about the kids growing up I secretly wish they wouldn’t. My wife often claims “They will always be my babies” and like most things, she is right. You never quite ever give up that connection with them from the first moment they opened their eyes and looked at you or that first time you heard your wife say, “Say hi to your daddy.”
My daughter did everything early, mostly as a product of being the third child who didn’t want to miss out on what her older brother and sister were doing. She was walking at nine months and gave up all naps around eighteen months. She seems like she is in a hurry.
You can’t see it when they are right in front of you. It is not until you go away for four days without seeing them that you realize how much can change in such a short time.
If this picture is any indication of what her teenage years are going to be like I fear that they are just around the corner. She may only be three but she is going on thirteen already, at least that is what it feels like.
I just want it to SLOW DOWN.
Trust me, it feels like you blink, and those hours of fretting about them not sleeping, cursing whether they going to ditch this godforsaken phase, and wondering if you are ever going to have sex with your wife again vanishes.
Before you know it, you are worried if they will ever reach the next benchmark you read about in that book with your wife way back when. It’s those small moments that grab you and you start to take notice.
It is when they start to amaze you with their first smiles, even though most of them are usually just because of gas but you’ll take it anyway. You’ll watch them laugh for the first time or see them pull up on the couch. Next thing you know they are doing the Frankenstein walk toward you and you wonder where the time went. Everyone says “It goes by fast” and everyone is right.
You honestly never see it coming until it has already passed you by. What I hold on to is that I can replay these moments in time like they were yesterday. I often look back at the tomes of stills and reels of moments I wouldn’t let get by me, to remember how it was though I don’t think I can truly ever forget.
Of course, I relent, knowing that she is growing and I need to support the excitement in that. Moving from baby status to big girl is a colossal leap in the life of a toddler.
“You grew a whole centimeter!” I say in a ridiculously loud voice hoping that my animated face accurately expresses my excitement.
“I’m a big girl now!” she laughs, jumping up and down. She can hardly contain herself as she embraces me and it hits me. That is exactly what I need to do, too.
Bye-bye, baby. For now.