Daughters are precious. Seems like yesterday when I took her into my arms for the very first time; it’s been 17 months already, and time seems to have no intention of slowing down. At the office, I just can’t wait for the day to end so that I can enjoy the sound of her laughter, the sight of her cherubic face, the touch of her little arms wrapped around me, the taste of the half-eaten saliva-soaked potato chip that she lovingly shoves into my mouth, and the smell of watermelon-flavored baby shampoo in her hair. Every day I get to spend with her is a day I cherish.
There are instances when my daughter’s out with her mother and I finally have some peace. I hate to admit it but I am super-excited about the prospect of getting some alone time for myself, but five minutes into this ‘quality time’, and I start missing her immensely, my existence fading away into nothingness. So to fill this void, I grab my car keys and go pick my daughter up from wherever she has gone to; if that’s not an option (like when she’s with her mother at a wedding reception), all I can do is wait for her to come back. Sigh!
At this point in her life, she’s on a road to self-discovery, learning new words, acquiring new tastes, and making bold choices at a staggering pace. Fairly recently, she started calling me ‘Papa’, while referring to herself as ‘Dolly’. Moreover, she now understands the meaning of ‘No, No, No!’ and she doesn’t wait to say it out loud if something is not to her liking. She’s becoming head-strong, assertive and opinionated, less a child, more an adult. It makes me reflect on the high intellectual level kids these days have as compared to kids in my generation, all the while being painfully aware that she’s growing up faster than I want her to. There are a few quirks of hers that, at times, astound, amaze, annoy, irritate, and even worry me, but looking at them from another perspective, I am reminded that these cute little habits of hers won’t last forever, that the sands of time are a slipping, no matter how tightly I try holding on to them. So if you have a little angel in your life, you should just*:
1. Let her eat what she wants, when she wants; it won’t be long before she starts counting calories.
2. Let her snuggle and sleep in your arms all night even if you find it uncomfortable; it won’t be long before she starts getting comfortable with her independence.
3. Let her play with her toys for as long as she wishes to; it won’t be long before she’s drowning in books, fighting to survive in this super-competitive world.
4. Let her run all over the house like a headless chicken, even if it means getting a few bumps on her head; it won’t be long before she is bound and gagged by the ‘norms‘ of our society.
5. Let her ask as many questions as she wants and answer her no matter how many times she asks them; it won’t be long before she discovers Google.
6. Let her throw tantrums when she’s mad; it won’t be long before she starts hiding her emotions behind a smile.
7. Let her hug you and kiss you and call you ‘papa’ incessantly; it won’t be long before she leaves you for another man.
8. Let her squeal with joy as you throw her up in the air, waiting to fall back into your arms; it won’t be long before she gets too heavy to pick up.
9. Let her escape your grasp every time you try combing her hair; it won’t be long before she begins spending hours in front of the mirror.
10. Let her make ‘pretend‘ calls on your phone; it won’t be long before she starts making ‘real‘ calls and you’ll be the one frowning at the bills.
11. Let her put her feet on your feet while you walk; it won’t be long before she finds her own stride.
12. Let her wear clothes/accessories that match yours; it won’t be long before she hates the very idea of color-coordinating dresses with her dad.
13. Let her run straight into your arms when you get home from work; it won’t be long before she has more pressing matters on her mind than to greet her tired old man.
14. Let her make a mess; it won’t be long before she gets obsessively organized.
15. Let her push you to your limits and beyond; it won’t be long before she’s gone off to college, leaving you all alone in your ‘comfort zone‘.
16. Let her chase after cats; it won’t be long before she follows in her mother’s footsteps and jumps on a chair every time she spots a feline in the vicinity.
17. Let her enjoy her regular reading of bedtime stories; it won’t be long before she’s engrossed in a riveting novel she’s just picked up, while blocking you out.
18. Let her have as much milk as she wants; it won’t be long before she finds you chasing after her for her daily intake of calcium.
19. Let her wake you up in the morning; it won’t be long before she leaves for school by the time you wake up.
20. Let her roar with laughter when you make funny faces at her; it won’t be long before she develops a sense of humor and realizes funny faces aren’t ‘funny‘ anymore.
21. Let her drag/squeeze you into her four-feet-by-four-feet play tent to have a tea party; it won’t be long before she discovers that the exact same (invisible) area around her is actually her ‘personal space‘.
22. Let her scream at the top of her lungs; it won’t be long before she comprehends the wisdom behind silence.
23. Let her believe she is Cinderella; it won’t be long before she realizes life isn’t a fairy tale.
24. Let her discover the rich creamy smoothness of chocolate ice cream; it won’t be long before she gets wind of the Baskins Robbins selection or, God forbid, Peshawri ice cream.
People say you can only understand being the father of a daughter only if you have one of your own, and this has never been truer. The first time I laid eyes on my daughter, I cried, knowing that God has loaned her to me for a very short time, until someone else sweeps her off her feet and takes her away. Try as I might, I can’t delay the inevitable, or stop time for that matter, but she’ll always be my baby girl no matter how old she gets.
‘Papa loves you, darling, and he knows he will always be your first love.’