The impatient father

Michael Boylan's picture

Last week I published my first column in a long time. Apparently, I was a little rusty because I made a faux pas. When discussing my infant daughter, Nora, I stated that she tended to look like Peter Boyle from the back. Although the line was greeted with much laughter, I was urged to write something a little nicer about her.

After all, she will grow up with all of this technology at her finger tips and everything that is ever written about her could end up on some futuristic social networking site. When she is in high school, people could still bring up this Peter Boyle line and she will be incessantly teased and tortured.
I would not wish that on anyone, especially my own flesh and blood.

Nora is our second child, which means that a lot of what she is doing comes with a “been there, done that” quality. It isn’t her fault and I’m trying my best to recognize and praise her unique talents and stop constantly wishing for her to hit the landmarks of toddler-hood that leave infancy in the dust. It’s hard though. Her big brother, Colin, will be four in April and is very entertaining. In comparison to her brother, the showboat, baby Nora is a little dull.

That sounds harsh but if you haven’t been around babies very much let me tell you that they can be a little boring. The fact that all they do is eat and sleep during the first few weeks and months is a blessing. It lets the parents adjust to the new person in the household and eases them in to some of the tougher transitions (the teething, the first cold, etc.). Unfortunately, babies don’t add much else to the repertoire in the following months aside from attempting to eat disgusting goop and crying more as they get frustrated at not being able to communicate with the obviously frustrated humans that tower over them.

Don’t get me wrong, Nora is trying really hard. She smiles at us when we walk in the room and her smile is gorgeous. It does warm my heart and bring a smile to my face, partially because her two bottom teeth have kind of come in and they give her a bit of a crazy look. She is also zooming around in a walker and is already trying to stand up by herself, as if she knows that her Dad wants her to enter the super, happy fun time known as toddler-hood.

Now, I know that toddler-hood is full of its own challenges, but I think the pros far outweigh the cons. For instance, when Nora is upset now, she cries and it takes awhile for us to figure out why and then try to fix the problem. When a toddler gets upset, you can talk to them and distract them, even bargain with them. Many of Colin’s meltdowns have been fixed with handing him one of his Hot Wheels, a cookie or throwing an episode of “Curious George” on television. None of that works for Nora quite yet. Some times she just needs to cry (and scream) it out.

Knock on wood, Nora has entered a very important phase - sleeping through the night and soothing herself back to sleep when she does wake up. My wife says she is doing it much faster than Colin did, but I don’t remember. To me it feels like it took forever to get to this point. It may be unfair to Nora to think so and hold her to this standard that her brother didn’t even meet, but I can’t help it. I don’t want her to grow up too fast, but if she could be a year old tomorrow, that would be cool with me.

Now, before you readers accuse me of being a monster, let me assure you that Nora and I play every night and that I am an active participant in her care and feeding. In fact, one of the things that we have in common is our love and respect of the remote control to the television. After I have selected a program and pressed a button that prevents her from changing the channel, Nora has control. This allows us to enjoy a football game or Jeopardy together, even though she barely looks at the screen. The remote also tends to find it’s way into her mouth, but so what? She’s having fun and so am I.

She also enjoys being tickled and loves to pull hair, so I blow raspberries on her tummy and let her giggle and pull at my hair. This may have established a dangerous precedent as she now pulls my wife’s hair every time she picks her up, but it’s too late to change that now.

Nora is also very curious. She is a climber, crawling over to me each night in her room and holding on to me to walk around, often to try and pet the cat who is hiding behind my legs. She also tries to play with Colin, but he is having none of it. He will kiss her and tell us he loves “his baby Nora,” but that love stops the minute she grabs one of his trains or tries to pull his hair.

I know that I will look back on these days fondly, mainly because everybody tells me that I will, but I can’t stop looking forward. There will be a day next spring when both of my kids will be running around the swing set out back and, some time soon, Colin will hand Nora a piece of a cookie and we won’t scream in holy terror of Nora choking on a chocolate chip.

Those days will come eventually. I just have to be patient and enjoy all of the steps along the way. No matter how small they seem to me, who has already seen a child complete them and move onward and upward, they are large landmarks for my daughter and I am, and always will be, proud of her.

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