Day in the Life: Watching a Child Experience Things
Of all the things that I cannot get tired of as a dad, it’s seeing Terra experience the world around her, and in her own unique ways.
It’s not uncommon for a portion of her Saturday’s to be home. During that time, it’s also not uncommon for her to dig through her toy chest for a large bag of building blocks, dump all of them onto the floor, and decide on a construction project. For most projects, it involves selecting one of her plushies and building a house for them. However, ever since she received this white goat as a gift, she decided to upgrade the goat’s house to something much grander. When I asked her what she had in mind, her immediate response: “I want to build a castle.”
“Why does a goat need a castle?” I asked, trying hard to not smile like a goof (I eventually failed at that).
She looked at the goat dangling from one hand and a green block in the other. “Because… because the goat likes big castles.” She eyed me, her eyes focused, her voice unwavering.
“Oh, I see,” I responded, nodding.
She then smiled. “Yes! He needs a big castle, Daddy.”
“But what about your other plushie friends?” I asked.
“Oh, they can visit Mister Goat in his castle,” she said. I felt like she dodged my question, but I let it slide.
And so we began the construction of Goat Castle.
My daughter has a bit of a creative streak, something that I’m consistently surprised when I witness it first-hand or see what she brings home. My wife, however, always nods knowingly. For her it’s clear as day why our little one loves to create drawings, build structures and little stories for said structures, and loves creating new games for us all to play. To be frank, I understand as well, for our daughter is growing up in a home where both parents spend large chunks of their time… well, creating. For my wife, it’s corporate branding and UX (user experience), while I’m here trying to get books and short stories published.
But anyway, I almost digress.
When given the option, using washable markers on windows always trumps crayons on paper. I don’t usually join in on window coloring - for those art sessions I tend to step back and watch it all play out. Trying to figure out what was being drawn proves to be doubly fun now that my daughter tends to have a vision, in her mind, of her creations and what they represent. More importantly, she can now express those thoughts.
As she draws, I always ask her periodically what was just created and why.
“Why are those blue lines going down?” I’d ask.
“Oh, it’s raining,” she’d reply while carefully drawing a yellow circle, after which she’d fill it in.
“I see,” I’d acknowledge. “And the circles you just made - what’s that?”
“Those are my friends jumping in the puddles,” she said, switching over to the blue marker again. She made big blue swooshes.
“Do you like the rain?” I asked, knowing the answer. That didn’t stop me, though - I never get tired of the response.
“I love the rain,” she exclaimed. “I get to wear my rain boots and jump in the puddles.”
“With your friends?”
“Yes! We find a puddle and jump in it.”
“Sounds a bit messy.”
“Yes! Water gets everywhere!” Laughter. Always laughter.
Just about all of her friends are those she’s met and befriended while at school.
“School when she’s not even three yet?”
Hell yeah! In the end, my wife and I would rather expose her to social environments earlier than later. We both work full-time so keeping her home isn’t an option. Finally, our families don’t live nearby - that is, they live thousands of miles away; though I know for a fact my mom wouldn’t hesitate to babysit, that just isn’t possible for us.
Fortunately we got lucky and got our daughter into a school just a couple of minutes away from our home by car. In summary, the experience has been worth it from day one. She’s learning so much across the board while being given the flexibility and freedom to approach tasks as she’d like. All the while, she’s making friends and potentially forming bonds that will last for years, if not decades or lifetimes.
As I write this, my daughter’s getting over a high temperature (just a degree below a fever) which I expect will break by Monday morning. She didn’t want to eat much, and got cranky when we offered her a variety of dishes over the course of the day.
Nobody said parenting is always fun and inspirational. In fact, I’ve told many people to always factor in the challenges of parenting before embarking on that life-altering path. Everything must be taken into account.
That said… despite the hard work that goes into being a dad - the stress, the new grey hairs, and the occasionally volatile emotions of a little toddler - I love the job.