I remember it like it was yesterday. After about 13 long hours, they finally wheeled Jen into the operating room. Not to have my usual routine broken, even on a day like today, I was watching Jeopardy. Before Final Jeopardy, they called me into the operating room, and I watched as my little girl emerged from the Cesarian incision, coneheaded, screaming her tiny baby scream–if only they stay that way–and covered in slimy stuff.
She was so tiny, barely over five pounds, but as we would learn less than four years later, not as tiny as they can come. She wouldn’t stay tiny for long though. Before too long she had plumped up nicely, complete with Michelin man arms and legs and a chubby round head; the roundest in all the land if all the comments we got are to be believed. Not much hair though, that came later. When her teeth started coming in, she got her bottom two front teeth first, but then only one top front tooth. She looked like our little hillbilly baby. They eventually evened out and gave her a beautiful smile.
Her early attempts at vocalization were grunts a Neanderthal would’ve been envious of. The grunts eventually mellowed to a much more pleasant coo. At about six months she became a screamer. A high-pitched, wailing, banshee-like scream. It wasn’t angry, just enthralled with its own voluminous existence. Fortunately it didn’t last long. She wasn’t an early talker, but once she started she never stopped. Hasn’t stopped. And it’s not just the quantity of words, it’s the quality. Full sentences almost immediately. Words that most adults don’t use correctly. You always think you’ll remember the memorable things kids say, but there’s just too much and you never do. I hate myself for not writing more of these things down (ok, hate is a little strong). For every hilarious thing she’s said or done, there’s four or five more I can’t recall at will, though they might float through my conciousness from time to time, wispy, like dandelion spores. If only I could grab them before they blow away.
Like the speech, locomotion did not come early. An accomplished roller, she didn’t see the use in crawling and didn’t do it long. After a year she was up and running around, the extra movement slimming down her thunder thighs and pot belly. The hair started coming in, giving her a nice baby mullet that was the talk of rednecks all over town.
And today she turns five. Five is sort of a milestone year. Now she’s going to be, like, a real kid. Five is almost like a new starting point of your life. I remember a few things from when I was four, maybe even a couple of very hazy memories of three. But I remember a lot of five. I remember watching Star Wars–which Lily and I will be doing on Monday–and I remember a lot about kindergarten. I remember moving to our new house and even my fifth birthday party, and other random memories from the glory days of 1981 and ’82.
Now my little girl is at that new starting point. She’ll be in kindergarten next year. She’s already started extracurricular activities, “playing” basketball and “doing” gymnastics. There will be sleepovers at friends houses and learning to ride a bike and swimming lessons and boy/girl parties and “dad can I borrow the keys” and “you’re not going out of the house wearing that” and boyfriends and college tuition and…and…and……….! Ok *deep breath* I may be getting a little ahead of myself.
I guess the point is, time flies when you’re having fun, and raising Lily is a blast, so before I know it she’ll be all grown up. But until then, I’ll enjoy all–ok, most of the minutes, hours, and days when she still calls be daddy and asks me to carry her to bed.
Here’s my favorite pictures of Lily from this year.