The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 12, 2012

LEVINE: A growing child demands little help from parents

By Scott Levine
Associate Editor

CLINTON — Times are a changing in the Levine household and I’m beginning to miss the days that at one point I couldn’t wait to be over.

I had the week off last week and since my wife still had to work, my daughter and I spent some quality time together, opening up my eyes even more to her continued insistence on growing up. Like no other time before, I was relegated to the corner, while my daughter tackled everything by herself.

At one point in her life, I dreamed of this. I longed to move past the early morning feedings, diaper changing and blood-curling cries. But now, as I have to sit on the sidelines, I (sort of) miss having a hand in helping.

Take my mornings for instance during my week off. My daughter yells for me to tell her to get out of bed, which after a few minutes of a little more sleep, I would oblige. She then climbs out of her big bed, reaches for my hand and gets me up.

Then, I get told to go away as she uses the restroom. Once she’s finished with the toilet, she washes her hands, brushes her teeth and likely wants to apply makeup before I finally grab her to get dressed.

I get the same welcoming during changing time, so I wait while she grabs pants, socks and a shirt, and proceeds to change herself with no care about whether she matches. I don’t get too upset by this, because when I’m in charge, matching isn’t always a priority.

When she’s ready for the day, we grab breakfast, and I hear all about what’s happening in her little world. And it’s quite a bit.

During a recent outing at a restaurant, I looked at my wife at one point and wondered if we could get a word in during the conversation. Our daughter was dominating the evening, and we had no time to respond before she was off on another topic.

Needless to say, she’s got a lot to say, and wants to make sure everyone is listening.

When breakfast was over, we moved on to one of our board games — Hi-Ho Cherry-O.

I’m not one of those parents who will let my child win. I play to win, and I don’t care if my competitor is only 2 years old. With that being said, I’m currently winless in eight games of Hi-Ho Cherry-O to my small, but mighty, opponent.

This is another area where I would love to help, but my daughter insists on spinning by herself, and if it’s not good enough, she spins again. It normally lands on a great space, and she proceeds to count her cherries off her tree.

Part of me is proud of her being able to count, but she always tries to add in that extra cherry on the end, hoping that I’m not paying attention. Unfortunately for her, I need all the help I can get since my spins usually land on putting all my cherries back on the tree, so I watch her like a hawk.

By the end of the game, she’s in my face yelling “Hi-Ho Cherry-O,” while I’m on the floor whimpering, asking for a rematch. She usually agrees, and takes me down again.

When she gets tired of beating me into the Hi-Ho Cherry-O ground, we get a little fresh air, where she pushes me aside to put on her shoes, coat and hat. Now, she may be Miss Independent, but it takes serious talent to zip up a coat ( I think I just mastered that when she was born), so I know I will be needed before we venture into the great outdoors.

But instead of seeking help, she tries zooming past me, trying to present her best impersonation of me with my coat unzipped. However, I’m not that slow yet, so I finally lend a hand, and get a big hug and “thank you,” before going outside.

There’s not much left that my daughter needs help with. It’s a little depressing, but everyone deals with this during parenthood.

My only strategy to stay useful is to make sure she can never quite figure out her coat’s zipper.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor at the Clinton Herald.