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Living

Diary of a First-Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

With no brothers or sisters for company, Frankie tends to be quite dependent on the company of her parents.
That, combined with her insatiable curiosity, means we cannot move an inch without her looking to see if there is anything interesting about to happen.
And when you’re only 13 months, an adult opening the door of the fridge can be like Christmas morning.
So a trip to the back kitchen – off limits for Frankie with too many bins and other bits and bobs that she will try to pull down – has to be done with either great stealth or great speed. I reckon we’ve about five seconds out there before she makes it from the sitting room, through the kitchen and in after us.
And that time window is narrowing every week.
So when you go to leave the room for a prolonged period of time, the door closes after you or else Little Miss Curious will be down the hall for company. The kitchen and the sitting room are child proof. Most other rooms are not. If a door was left even an inch ajar, she is out the gap in a heartbeat.
Which was all fine and well until the last couple of weeks. When one of us would leave the room and close the door before she was able to join us, Frankie would start bawling crying. She would miss us straight away.
Well, when I say miss us, it was more a case of missing me. Despite bringing her into the world and doing most of the caring for Frankie, Aisling didn’t get quite the same reaction when she left the room.
I tried not to gloat, but for a few days I may just have been the most smug father in the land.
But, not to worry; Aisling is now eliciting the same reaction. Dropping Frankie off to the childminder’s this last week has led to tears on Frankie’s behalf. And, though she won’t admit it, probably Aisling’s too. But no more than when I leave the room, Frankie is right as rain a couple of minutes later, distracted by some other curiosity.
It is very cute to see it though, knowing your child is crying after you. But it’s also an ‘uh oh’ moment – this could become a habit; she might not always be as easily pacified as she becomes more aware of what’s happening.
Seeing as prevention is better than cure, I’m trying to prevent the crying by stealthily leaving the room without her knowledge. The cure – coming back to calm her – is definitely not a good habit to be getting her into.
Same with Aisling in the morning, when coming back is certainly not an option if she wants to get to work on time.
Sage advice from a relative, though, is worth noting: Enjoy it, because it won’t be long until they are running away from you, not after you!

In his fortnightly column, first-time-father Edwin McGreal  charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.

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