Every year at this time, I write about time flying by too fast.
As I’ve aged, I haven’t changed my tune about that. Instead, I’m hoping to mark my daughter’s fifth birthday with a different outlook this year.
Today marks her fifth birthday and I can’t believe we’re only months away from starting kindergarten. Where has the time gone? OK, that’s the last mention about time going too quickly.
My wife posted a Throwback Thursday photo on Facebook this week, showing my daughter just as she was born. It’s incredible the amount of development our bodies and brains go through in our first years of development. I may not be the same person I was at 24, but I’m not that much different.
I haven’t grown a few feet or learned a different language, so I’m pretty much intact from five years ago, albeit with a few more aches and soft spots developed from having children.
For my daughter, that’s a different story.
Getting ready for the day
Almost each weekday morning for the last five years, I have been in charge of getting my daughter out of bed before 6 a.m. In the beginning, she didn’t need any help waking up, because 6 a.m. was her time to greet the world, regardless of what day of the week it was.
Gradually, over time, she started to need assistance in waking up. Now, she has an alarm clock to get her out of bed and start her day. All she has to do is brush her teeth and get dressed. That’s it.
Then, she can head toward the door and get into the car, waiting for the arrival of her brother and me.
What are the chances she’s the first person to the car? Consider that I have to do exactly what she does, but also shave, get a drink, pack my son’s bag with his clothes for the day, and wake him up and deal with his inability to want to get out of his crib. Then I have to change his diaper and put on his coat. Then I have to get him into a car seat that he must have raging nightmares about since he acts like I’m putting him into a death chamber every time I strap him into it.
You’d think the chances are high that she would easily outdistance the other two men in the house. You would be wrong.
Instead, over time, she’s developed the ability to move slower than a three-toed sloth.
“I’d rather wear a dress,” she normally says from upstairs.
“Just wear what’s laid out,” I say, trying to wrestle my son out of his crib.
“I think I’ll just wear sweatpants, then,” she retorts, knowing full well that if it’s a school day, sweatpants are out the window as a choice.
“Just wear what’s laid out,” I say, trying to grab something to keep my son entertained on the changing table.
By the time I walk upstairs to see if she’s done anything, I usually stumble upon her still in her pajamas without her teeth brushed. As we look back at the timeline, she has usually been up for about 15 minutes without doing anything.
The only way I can get her moving in the mornings is to tell her that the last person in the car will be the rotten egg. It’s amazing how that statement, and also counting to three, works on her to make her move more like a deer, rather than a turtle.
Something tells me that I won’t be able to use those techniques much into the future.
My daughter has always been a good talker. Maybe that has something to do with being a girl, but ever since she was a baby, she has always been babbling or letting me know her thoughts on something.
In the beginning, we talked at her. She would soak it all in, and I would look fondly on the future when she would begin talking.
Then she started talking. And she hasn’t stopped.
There was a point in her life where frustration happened often with her verbal skills, since she couldn’t quite explain what she wanted. That stage is now reserved for my son.
She talked 90 miles an hour and looked at me like I was an idiot for not understanding it. Come to think about it, she still has that look for me sometimes.
Now, she’s the conversation starter. She’ll bring up stories from our past that I barely remember and provide me a detailed summary of her day. It’s a big difference from those days where she only communicated with crying. I can’t say I miss those days.
One of the things I always looked forward to when thinking about having children was sitting in the living room, relaxing together and possibly playing a game or watching television.
If you’re a parent or know anything about being a parent, you know that when children are infants and toddlers, they need constant supervision. With my son, my biggest fear is when he’s in the other room and being quiet. One-hundred percent of the time that happens, he’s up to no good.
And my daughter, like every other child, wasn’t any different.
Now, though, she’s grown up to the point where she’s difficult to talk to while she’s watching a show. Even while watching the Chicago White Sox on opening day, she was entrenched in the game. She was so engaged that every time she had to run into the kitchen to grab a drink (which seemed to be abnormally often), she paused the game.
When I left the room because I was so disgusted with what I was watching, she yelled over to me about the happenings in the game.
It’s truly been a remarkable journey these last five years. I’m not sure what to expect during the next five. She may seek me out a little less as a play partner and maybe won’t need my assistance for brushing her teeth.
For now, I’ll take a little extra enjoyment in playing “prince” to her “princess” and hold on tight for whatever the next chapter in life brings.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.