My daughter, Catherine, turned 14 months old on July 26. Here’s a fairly recent photo:
By all accounts, she’s quite a handful. She’s walking like a champ, can climb onto just about everything, and joy of all joys, she’s able to reach the knobs for our gas stove and turn them on or off at will. Which means that we have removed the knobs, and hidden them in a high cupboard, only taking them down and attaching them as needed to turn things on or off. She can also reach the button that stops the microwave and opens the door, so we have to keep an eye on that if we’re trying to heat something up.
She eats pretty much everything we put in front of her. She’s never eaten baby food, and she didn’t even like when we tried to puree solid food. So we just started giving her bits and pieces of whatever we eat. It works out great! At home or at restaurants, we just share our food with her. The only thing we’re holding off on is nuts – the doctor advised to wait until two years to feed her any nuts, because studies have shown that early exposure can lead to the development of allergies. Other than that, the sky’s the limit! She loves meat of just about any kind, beans and veggies, and has a special fondness for bread. We’ve even given her spicy and sour food on occasion, and usually after the initial reaction she enjoys it. Heck, she’s even taken to eating lemons! Her first reaction to lemons might have been like the babies in this video, but now she loves them!
She’s developed an incredibly cute reflex, which I take to be indicative of the cell phone age: whenever she hears some kind of electronic beep, anything that sounds remotely like a phone ringing, she puts a hand up to her ear, cocks her head to the side, and says “ewwo??”
Catherine has also learned to give kisses and even to blow kisses from across the room. She’ll do it with one or both hands covering her mouth, and then, “mwwwwah!”. She has played at giving her teddy bear water from a sippy cup, and just last night I saw her “burping” her teddy bear.
Rebecca has a daily routine to water our garden with a plastic watering can. After the can is empty, Catherine will pick it up and walk back over to the garden and “water” it herself! She even holds the handle in the right spot and points the spout in the right direction!
Other than “ewwo”, her words are still fairly limited. She’s got “mama” and “dada”, and she can say “teddy” when she sees her teddy bear. She’ll occasionally say “kitty” if she sees an animal she thinks is a kitty. She’s making a lot of sounds that sound like words, as though she’s slowly building up a repertoire of consonants and vowels, and will soon be putting them together in the right combinations. For now, though, her speech is still a mystery. Despite that, she makes herself pretty well understood. We can tell when she’s sleepy, hungry, or just wants attention.
Clearly, Catherine learns from quickly from our examples, so even at this young age it’s important for us to set good examples in everything we do.
Catherine is full of energy. We were reading “What To Expect: The First Year,” and there was a passage talking about getting your baby to sleep. It said something to the effect of “when your baby is in a calm state, but not yet asleep…” Huh? Catherine is either awake, happy, and busily running around, sleepy, cranky, and running around, content and nursing or eating, or (eventually) content and asleep. Unless she’s really sick and lethargic, there is never an occasion where she just sits or lies in a calm and awake state. I know that there are those babies who have their cuddly, docile moments, but Catherine is not one of them. If you’ve ever been around her, you’ll know what I mean!
As for fatherly revelations, the biggest thing for me is that it doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Since I’m at work for eight hours a day, I don’t have as much time to spend around Catherine as Rebecca does. I don’t have the same opportunities to observe her habits, likes and dislikes, and routines. So when I get home from work, I have to spend as much time with her as I can so that I can learn who she is, and develop my relationship with her. Of course, I have other responsibilities when I’m at home, so I can’t exactly sit and play with her all evening. So I’ve got to try and balance that out with doing chores around the house, taking care of the bills and other clerical matters, and taking some time for my own interests.
I’ve been a dad for just a little over a year, and it has been wonderful and challenging at the same time. I’m looking forward to many more years of fatherhood to come, and I my hope is that I can grow to be a better dad every day.