Here’s what I’ve learned in the last 11 months:
* Having a kid did not magically change me in one instant. This notion that parenthood flips a switch inside one's head is bunk, as near as I can tell. We came home from the hospital and I was surprised by how little had changed. Dirty dishes: check. Meals to cook: check. Books to read, jobs to do, Kate to laugh with: check, check, check. There was just this small person who sleept a lot, in the next room. Was I a father then, or simply a caretaker? Dunno.
* I know I'm a father now, though. Eleven months of having this marvelous little person in my life has altered me as surely as wire shapes a bonsai tree. Slow, ever-changing circumstance and gradually altered habits have crept up on me.
* I watch her learn - to roll, to babble, to eat, to splash - and I am amazed. * Cooking for the people I love is one of my greatest joys, and cooking for Piper one of the best of those joys. So many people seem to assume that babies should only eat bland, pureed, overcooked mush... and sure, Piper's eaten that sort of thing. But watching her happily scarf down the curried lentils and currants I'd just made, and then go back for seconds? Awesome.
* Just in the last week, she's crossed a threshold: to wit, the door from her room to the hall. I set her on the floor and turned my back while doing [SOMETHING DIAPER RELATED] and when I turned around, she had actually **left the room** to go out and investigate the fringe on the edge of the hallway rug. Friday she tossed herself into the frigid sprinkler at the park. Yesterday she chased the cat around the living room in slow-motion Lurch-O-Vision. This morning, she beat on the glass-fronted electronics cabinet with her remote control. She is going to break things, it's clear: She is going to fall down, cut herself, bang her head. There Will Be Blood. And I will put band-aids on her and cheer her on as this heady cocktail of pride, caution, adventure and foolhardy exuberance hits us both. * I am her Abba, this year, even if Piper has not yet mastered the word.