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I Keep Wanting My Daughter to Be Older Than She Is

On almost every sitcom in TV history, where one of the characters has a baby, that child will inevitably be aged up at some point. The kid ends one season as a 2-year-old and, magically, starts the next season at age 5 (played by a child actor who knows her lines and can talk back to her on-screen parents).

That's sort of how I feel about my 14-month-old daughter Evyn right now.

Don't get me wrong, I love that little girl to death. I love the fact that she looks at her pink Yankee hat and says "hat" or that she snorts when she laughs as I tickle her. I love how she seems to enjoy flavorful foods and grabs onto a piece of pizza and doesn't let go. Just like her dad.

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But I also imagine Evy older—not much, maybe 4 or 5—with her hair in adorable braids or (more likely) in a natural puff-ball, telling me and her mother about her day at school, about her favorite episode of "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" or even letting us know when she's hungry or tired or hurting.

Right now, she can't do any of that.

Photograph by: Joel Keller

And while I want to stay in the moment when it comes to raising her, knowing that I'm going to blink and she'll be off to college, I still want her to be just a little bit older, which I think will be the most fun age for the two of us.

My wife, Rachel, thinks I'm crazy. "I miss the baby version of her already," she always tells me. Her mother, who watches Evy three days a week and has forged quite a bond with her, doesn't even want us to call her a "toddler."

"She's still a baby," she tells us, taking the definition of "toddler" literally. "She's not toddling yet, so she's not a toddler."

[H]ere are some of the things I've envisioned doing with Evy since day one: Taking her to a Yankee game, watching Monty Python with her, enjoying a burger and shake with her, talking to her about things and people she's seen in the world, watching her play with her friends and learn new things.

Evy will be toddling very soon. She's about a month away from standing on her own, and she's already cruising around our coffee table. We're also starting to wean her from her bottle—she's off formula completely and one of her milk bottles is in a straw cup that she drinks from with vigor. It just makes me envision her walking and saying, "Hi, Daddy," interacting with other kids and making smart-ass remarks about everything around her.

While I've been thinking about this in one form or another since I held a 2.5-pound Evy in my arms on the day she was placed with us, the feeling has strengthened since I read an essay at Vox.com by one of my colleagues, Noel Murray. The father of two teenagers, Noel wonders why there are so many words written about parenting babies and toddlers when kids, preteens and teenagers are so much more interesting.

"If all goes well," he writes, parents who write about the tough first years as a parent "get to spend 15 or so more years living in a home alongside reasonably well-behaved sons and daughters, who develop personalities and passions of their own and become active participants in whatever adventures the family has."

After reading the essay, I could have been taken aback, since I'm one of the many writing about being the parent of a tiny one. But Noel's words really hit me, because here are some of the things I've envisioned doing with Evy since day one: Taking her to a Yankee game, watching Monty Python with her, enjoying a burger and shake with her, talking to her about things and people she's seen in the world, watching her play with her friends and learn new things.

I'm so looking forward to showing her a video of Derek Jeter diving into the stands for a ball.

My theory about why there are far fewer words spilled about kids and teens than about babies and toddlers is that parents start to become hyperaware that their words can be read by their kids, their kids' friends and their kids' friends' parents. They don't want to write anything that will embarrass them.

But a careful writer, who keeps kids in the loop about what they're writing, could tell some fantastic stories about life with preteens and teenagers, ones that show them making insightful observations, helping people in need, creating art or solving problems. Sure, they'll likely also have their heads buried in their phones and roll their eyes at their parents every so often. But I tend to think that kind of behavior is exaggerated—at least when it comes to most teens.

Other parents I've talked to on social media think the same thing: that as much as they love their tiny one, they can't help but envision them older.

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Am I going to miss these days when Evy is as cute as a button and can mostly babble? Of course. But I can't wait until I can tell her about when Han Solo shot first, and she'll actually understand and want to see it. I'm so looking forward to showing her a video of Derek Jeter diving into the stands for a ball. Most of all, I just want her to talk to me.

But I'll be sure to enjoy the time leading up to that as much as I can. This isn't a sitcom, after all.

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