Two Wonderful Girls. One Day At A Time…

Archive for October, 2013

Hello World. Here Comes Iris.

Iris is turning eight years old today. As a parent, it’s a new world now. Her personality has seriously developed. She has shed a lot of baby fat and now our former-Buddha baby has the fair skin, full lips, and thin frame that you see in fashion magazines. She recently hinted at her first crush. Her interests are forming. Needless to say, I am completely unprepared for all these forces to come together. And yet, this is exactly why I became a parent.

Those of us who dreamed of becoming parents had an ideal in our head when we first get the news that they’re expecting. For some, they love the idea of having a baby. I’ve seen friends who swoon at the sight of a crib or clothes from the Baby Gap. Others who want to play with pre-schoolers until both of them are ready for naptime. Me, not so much. Don’t get me wrong. I like babies. I think they’re cute, they make funny noises, and their soft features make them irresistible. And I like toddlers. Heck, it’s in the name–they “toddle”. That unbelievable earnestness, that wonder and amazement at the simplest of things. But this is the age that I knew things would get real. The conversations, the interactions, and my ability to influence them and learn from them. It truly starts now and the girls have reached an age where we’ve hit our stride as a family…

Our conversations are different at the dinner table. With Robyn being five, we’ve reached a relatively mature dynamic in our family. We discuss things, do random math problems, or have conversations about our day. While Robyn is the clown and keeps things light, Iris is the focused dreamer, making To Do lists for weekends. I’m floored by Iris’ ability to take on every challenge I give her. I bought her a novel by John Grisham (I have a weakness for Grisham books and read one a year) that was written for 7th graders called “Theodore Boone” and we created our own book club. Let me repeat: my daughter and I read the same book–separately! But last week’s list included basketball, reading Theodore Boone, writing her own research book, designing a website, and learning to write code. Yes, that last one was a last-minute addition that I suggested as an experiment, but I’m suddenly feeling encouraged to push boundaries. And clearly, this was a huge boundary.

There are moments in a parent’s life that they realize that they’ve crossed a moment in their lives as it is happening. And unlike graduations and weddings and other rites of passage, these moments aren’t celebrated even though their impact is just as important. Last week, when Iris and I wrote an app in PHP, it felt like one of those moments. It wasn’t sophisticated, but it was went a lot deeper than “Hello World”, the proverbial first simple program that everyone writes. No, she wanted to do a lot more than just say “hello”.  She decided she wanted to test herself with her multiplication tables, so her program took two numbers, multiplied them and compared them to her answer. While I helped, she understood every line and, perhaps more important, she got it and wanted to learn more. After we wrote the first program and were going to move on to another project, she surprised me when she said “Daddy, can you teach me more programming?” I keep thinking back to a friend who told us that her father, who was a doctor, described kids like a computer with an empty hard drive, constantly looking to write data there, and we’re responsible for filling those hard drives. Who am I to deprive her hard drive? So we started going into other tenets of programming until I finally saw she needed a break (or maybe it was me that needed the break). I don’t expect this to be the last time something like this happens and I hope she never loses this thirst for learning. It’ll keep her growing and me relevant, both pretty important as a father.

It’s the dawn of a new day here. Gone are the helpless days of infancy and toddlerhood. Two elementary school kids with strong personalities, huge hearts, and a thirst for learning. Iris is ready for John Grisham. She’s ready for PHP and Python. It’s up to those of us around her to turn it into something special. I expect these next eight years are going to be something truly special…

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