One of the more entertaining ways of measuring how big an impact becoming a parent has had on my life is to tick off on my fingers the things that I have done that I had previously said I would never do as a parent. Things like using the words “because I said so,” owning a minivan, using my pinkie to pick my child’s nose, and using my pinkie to pick my child’s nose while in public. This week I got to add another item to that ever growing list.
Geralyn, as she is wont to do if I don’t keep an eye on her, signed me up for another after activity after work earlier this week. Actually, it sounded kind of fun: all the dads were to bring their kids to the preschool that we had been hearing so much about and we would carve pumpkins and eat hot dogs. Sam lead me the sidewalk to the school entrance, promising to introduce me to all the “school people” I knew only by name or the occasional nefarious deed. When we got there, she promptly began acting like she didn’t know any of these people from Adam or Eve, but we had fun carving our pumpkin nonetheless.
After the carving we moved inside to dine on some of the most godawful hot dogs I’ve ever tasted, plus cookies and stupefyingly tart lemonade measured out in six ounce dixie cup servings. It was at this point that the teachers unveiled the surprise they had for us: All the kids (like, 30 of them) were called to the front of the room where they lined up and started singing us songs! Halloween songs!
This is the point where I started doing something I had always thought I wouldn’t: I started gufawing and clapping like some kind of moron. By any meaningful, objective measure the performance was dreadful. Half the kids weren’t even facing the right direction, half looked bewildered and thoroughly shocked to be up there in the first place, half were screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs more than singing them, and several of them actually wandered off to grab another cookie. One girl even started wandering up and down the line, bellowing “HAPPY HALLOWEEN” while bludgeoning the other children over the head with her magical fairy wand.
And yet I sat there, utterly delighted and snapping picture after picture. Despite the rather gauche nature of the performance there was something about seeing my Samantha up there singing to me (well, when she could remember the words) filled me with delight. So, yeah, add that one to the list.
Mandy has her own growing list, mainly consisting of little developmental milestones. She’s started crawling with her knees up under her, and is now capable of achieving alarming speeds, particularly when we leave our various stairs or displays full of antique thumbtacks exposed. She also really surprised me when I told her to “Wave to Sammy” and she complied. Suspecting a fluke, I conducted a few more trials where I told her to wave to Geralyn, me, and the cat. She did them all, correctly, each time. I’d have to check my notes to be sure, but I think this kind of language comprehension is happening sooner than it did for Sam.
And so the comparisons continue…