“Daddy.” That’s the best word my daughter says. Every time I hear it I perk to attention, curious for what comes next. It’s rarely the same and it always leads me into new territory as a first time parent.
Everly is a growing, soon to be 3 yr old, with all the best characteristics I hoped for in a daughter. She is an active, smart, fun, engaged, curious, determined, independent, and stubborn toddler, with a perfect smile. In short, she’s the best.
These great qualities are an amazing foundation to build a fulfilling life, and I’m so grateful that she was just born that way, without much effort from me. Those same qualities are also the ones that will give any parent a heart attack multiple times a day.
Because behind that great smile lies some serious mischief. Like hiding behind the couch to scare me when I sit down, or deciding that the aquaphor in her closet would work better all over the mirror..and her face… and her pajamas…. and her bed and… everything else she decided to touch in the 5 minutes of quiet we had as parents.
This all leads to many check yourself moments as a parent. That moment where you want to yell, get frustrated, scream and get angry at this little kid who is obviously intentionally torturing her parents who just need 5 minutes of silence.
It’s in a moment like these that I discovered something about her I hadn’t noticed before.
She hasn’t figured out lying.
It’s actually the opposite. Often when we catch her doing something wrong, she’s proud of what she’s accomplished, gladly offering her achievements, for us, her parents to celebrate.
Of course as a parent, these are distractions that throw off our schedule, that lead to hours of laundry or an unexpected bath after you just gave her a bath, or changing the clothes for the 3rd time before you head out the door. Frustrating for sure.
I became aware of this the other day when she had grabbed a cookie from the snack cabinet. Something she knows not to do.(One, she has to climb the cabinets. Two, she knows she has to ask for a cookie. But what or who is going to stand in the way of a toddler with a serious chocolate addiction. To Everly nothing. It’s already hers.)
After making off with her delicious cookie treasure, she walked into the living room, obviously hiding something and coyly smiling. When I asked her what she had in her hand, she opened it and proudly declared “a cookie.”
It was perfectly adorable, and she knew it. It wasn’t enough to win her the cookie, but it did allow me an extra second to think, how it was a little odd that she just told the truth right away. Then we talked through the lesson from that moment and moved on.
It has happened 2x more since I noticed it.
Once, at the gym child care where she had decided that the barely able to stand baby was holding something she would be able to use better.
Another time, she decided the scissors that were drying in the dish rack would be a fun toy.
Both times when confronted the truth came out immediately. She knew she did wrong, sadly handed over the goods and took the punishment. That makes me happy that even when she knows she’ll be in trouble, she’s does the right thing. That’s a proud parent moment.
There is no doubt that my wife and I have our hands full trying to corral a child that is so determined. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
My biggest concern, as we raise her, is to make sure we never let that spirit of independence get trampled by our actions or words. That we allow all those great qualities to grow into many more new discoveries that help her have a fulfilling, amazing life.
Also, note that if our children play together in the future and there is a disagreement between them, my daughter is telling the truth and it’s your kids fault. :)