With our children, it’s so easy to be focussed on the next milestone that we forget that every step they take moves them a tiny bit further away from younger, more innocent times.
This is something I’m particularly aware of with Kara, probably because I know she’s our last child. We won’t ever again go through the joys (and challenges) of having a freshly minted newborn or a crawler or a toddler. No more night-time feeds. No more cooing over first words. No more potty training.
Kara is just a few weeks short of 2½ but, with two older brothers to emulate, she’s already going on 12½. She’s growing up so fast and while I would never wish to halt her progress there are certain things I’m really going to miss about her as she is today – things that will probably become forgotten in the mists of time.
So that’s what I’m doing here. Here are five little things about Kara that I wish I could bottle up and revisit again in the future.
1. More than words
I’ve always loved this period, when a child starts to string words then phrases and finally whole sentences together.
From “Wake up, daddy!”, which she shouts at full volume, frequently accompanied by jumping up and down on my ribs just to make sure I really am awake, to “Be careful, daddy!” when I turn out the light to put her to bed and “I can do it, daddy!” every time I try to do something she thinks she can do herself, she’s adept at parroting both the words and the tone of voice from the grown-ups around her.
2. Welcome home
If she’s still up when I get home in the evening, the sound of the front door opening is enough to send her into squeals of excitement, declaring “It’s daddy! Daddy’s home!” and sprinting into the hallway with a huge beaming smile on her face so she can leap into my arms, declare “I love you, daddy” and cover my face in big wet kisses.
No matter how bad a day I’ve had, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on my face. I’m enjoying it now before she turns into a sullen teenager. I suspect she won’t be jumping straight out of the bath and running up and down the hallway shouting “Naked baby! Naked baby!” forever either.
3. Three in a bed
I know she really shouldn’t be sleeping in our bed at night, but in recent weeks she’s been finding her way in at around midnight and sleeping between Heather and I until morning.
I know all the books tell you that co-sleeping isn’t good for kids and lets them develop bad habits, and we will get round to training her back into sleeping in her own bed again, but I do love waking up and feeling her snuggled up against me and just listening to her breathe. In the morning I’ll often lie next to her and watch her for a few minutes before I get up because she just looks so happy and peaceful.
4, Fun, fun, fun
Kara’s still at that age where she takes pleasure in the simplest of things. She loves getting involved with the boys. (We’re so lucky that Isaac and Toby tend to happily include her in their games.) She’s really starting to understand humour. (I love it when she crinkles up her nose and sniggers.) And there’s nothing quite as exciting as putting a new dress on. And taking it off. And putting another one on. And taking that off and putting the first dress back on again. Every two minutes.
5. No porcelain doll
Yes, there’s the dressing up and the dolls and the other girlie stuff she’s into. But she’s always had a sense of adventure too and she’s robust enough to take her share of knocks and bumps – and to dish them out!
I guess that’s what comes of living with two older brothers – you learn to look after yourself, fight your own corner and give as good as you get. Mixed in with the girlieness is no small amount of physicality and tomboy spirit. As soon as she was able to stand she used to hurl herself from the third stair or from chairs and just expect to be caught, even if I wasn’t actually looking at the time. And now that she has learned to scoot, she’s happy to hurtle downhill at top speed, tumble off at the bottom and get straight back on again with scraped knees and elbows. She also has the best throwing arm of any of our kids. (I’m working on her curve-ball.)
I could go on and on, but those were the first five things that popped into my head. No matter how much Kara grows and changes in the future, I’ll hopefully always have these memories of her. And she’ll always be her daddy’s girl.