Thoughts From a 15 Month Old’s Dad

It’s been a while since I posted one of these, so I figured I’d catch everyone up. StarGirl is now 15 months old, and growing like a weed … but a pretty damn cute weed. Her vocabulary remains limited to “Daddy”, “Hi!”, “Uh-oh” and something that sounds kind of like “puppy” (which she happily says every time she sees a Labrador, either in the flesh or as a photo).

She continues to be utterly fearless — favorite pastimes include running helter-skelter down the sidewalk, getting into the rocking chair and then standing on it, and attempting to walk down the stairs (not half-crawl backwards like normal kids, no, StarGirl will have none of that — it’s forwards or nothing for her, never mind the fact that she can’t actually walk down the stairs). Potty training has begun, and she’s actually used her toilet twice (much to Sue’s surprise — important lesson: always check the toilet after the baby’s sat on it or you may miss something you’ll regret two days later).

I’m continuing to love being a dad. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like the feel of StarGirl with her arms wrapped around my neck, her head nuzzled against my shoulder, and the smell of her hair in my nose. It’s that little kid smell — the smell of summer and dirt and fun, the smell of innocence tinged with mischievousness. It’s intoxicating.

Playing with StarGirl is a constantly evolving experience. She likes hanging out on the front porch and sidewalk, carrying around her watering can or a plastic rake, pushing her new toy truck around, or scribbling with chalk. Chasing bubbles — something I haven’t done in ages — is considered great fun, as is playing in her new wading pool. Inside, she loves petting the dogs and giving them hugs (which they put up with for the most part) and playing with the cats’ tails is good for a few laughs. Books — particularly Daddy’s books — are always good; she likes carrying them around and occasionally sitting down to “read” them (last week she was infatuated with The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian).

Over course, it’s not all bubbles and laughs. Like most kids her age, StarGirl can suffer from separation anxiety, which generally consists of throwing a crying fit whenever Sue leaves the room. This is most likely to happen when she’s tired, or when Sue’s been away from home a lot, and there’s nothing to do for it save distract her with toys and get Sue out of the room as quickly as possible (lingering good-byes are catastrophic).

She can also be extremely willful (no surprises there) when she doesn’t get what she wants, though exactly what she wants can be hard to figure out since she can’t tell us. For example, the other day she refused to eat her dinner with her hands. Sue then tried feeding her with a spoon, but she still refused the food. Only when given a spoon of her own did she finally eat.

She’s been teething like mad, and now has about 16 teeth, give or take a tooth or two — it’s hard to count them, and sticking your finger in her mouth to feel around isn’t advisable. Teething is a special kind of hell for her and for us — it disrupts her sleeping patterns, causing her to wake up screaming in the middle of the night, which in turn throws off her nap schedule. That in turn messes up Sue’s daily schedule, and by the time I get home, everyone’s near their wits end.

StarGirl’s also reached a stage where she must be with you constantly, and demands your attention at every turn. It’s no longer enough for her to be in the same room, playing with her toys, while you do a little Web surfing. No, now you need to be focused entirely on her … even if she’s doing something that doesn’t involve you. For example, she may sit down quietly and “read” her books, but only if you’re watching. If I get up to do a chore, jump on my iBook or fire up the Xbox, she’s right there next to me.

I’m not complaining. This is an expected and enjoyable part of parenting, and anyone who won’t ditch a video game to play with his kid shouldn’t have been a parent in the first place.

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