To quote Elvis Presley (paraphrasing William Shakespeare) "The world's a stage and each of us plays a part" (from "Are You Lonesome Tonight," 1961). In your role as father, you and your child will go through many stages together, and these transitions are fast, and furious. Just when you think you've mastered all aspects of caring for an infant, suddenly you have a toddler and the rules of engagement change. I had this conversation just the other day with another father at a "play date"- for my daughter. We both agreed that although change is good (and inevitable), we had mastered the infant stage but now we were in a whole new ball game, and the predictability we had come to enjoy was now a daily struggle to keep up with what can only be called growing pains, or for lack of a better term, progress. How easy it would be to just take a snap shot of your infant child and stay where you were? We knew what to expect. We mastered the skills of taking care of a "baby." But this toddler thing is hard, and every day it only gets harder.
Remember when you yourself were a child and you were given your first bike? At first it was scary, but the combination of training wheels and your Dad's steady hand holding the seat instantly made you feel at ease. But the time came to take off the training wheels, and your Dad, against your will, suddenly let go and you were in charge of your own fate, going ten miles down the road toward a succession of trees and shrubs and fire hydrants. You survived, sure. You probably fell, even scraped a knee or two, but you were still determined to get right back up and try it again. And after awhile, you mastered the balancing act of riding your bike, and even liked the idea that you may run into a tree every now and then. But, that doesn't mean it was easy for you to take that giant leap, and, as a father, that's the issue I have with watching my little girl go from a helpless little infant that relied on me for all her needs to a growing concern with a mind of her own and a penchant for the dangerously dramatic. Change is good. Growth is necessary. But just like it's hard for a child to give up their training wheels, it's even harder for a father to let go.
People say it to you all the time, but it doesn't hit you until you experience it for yourself: kids do indeed grow up so fast. One minute you're cradling your daughter in your arms, watching her with amazement as she sleeps the day away. The next you're going insane because she won't sit still for a second and has your whole house in shambles. Moving forward is hard, moving backwards is easy, but we forge ahead none-the-less. I will miss that feeling of having everything under control, even though it only lasted for what seemed to be a split second. We have progressed to a new stage, my daughter and I, and you can't fight progress. But, if there is a god, and he's listening, I'll stay in Candyland as long as possible as I've looked three steps ahead, and well, I'm not ready for that either... stupid dating!