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