I have blinked a few times in four years

Published 1:04 am Sunday, February 12, 2017

For all of the people who warned me, “You’ll blink and wonder where the time went,” just before and just after our first child was born, you were correct.

This week our “baby” will celebrate four years of life.

Last week I realized I apparently had blinked a few times over the last few years.

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I blinked at her first word — Da.

Initially it stood for anything and everything. I was Da, momma was Da and the dogs were as well.

I blinked after several months when Anna began eating solid foods, which for babies is a misnomer, as baby food has nothing solid about it.

I blinked just after her first birthday when she gained her first level of true independence — the ability to walk. The moment was captured on a cell phone video so we can hopefully cherish it forever.

Each step of that independence came as she screamed and walked with uncertain footsteps into a new realm of life.

I cannot imagine the number of tiny steps she’s taken since — most without tears — or the number of steps she’ll continue to take throughout her life.

I blinked again just after she experienced snow for the first time. Beyond an initial interest, the white stuff wasn’t all that intriguing to her.

Months passed and I blinked again as she started preschool, and I saw her growing up with others.

More blinks came with her first visit to big church, traveling to see relatives, helping me wash the car walk the dogs and a myriad of other small things that we just take for granted.

As I think about it, on the eve of her fourth birthday, realizing just how fast she is growing up is difficult.

Sometimes long, adult-like sentences come out of Anna’s mouth. The sentences — and her imagination — never cease to amaze me, but they also remind me of just how much she’s growing. We’ve gone from “Da” to long, elaborate stories in just a blink’s time.

It seems like just yesterday I could hold her in one arm and sail her across the imaginary sky as I flew her around the room.

Today, at more than 30 pounds, I don’t fly her much anymore, and certainly not with a single arm.

Earlier this school year, she cried when I dropped her off nearly every day. She loved school, once she was there, but I think it was her way of telling me that she loved me and didn’t want to leave.

I relish the morning drive to school with her. I blinked a while back and she pops out of the car in the mornings and says, “Bye Daddy,” and heads off to school.

Soon I’m sure she’ll be riding a bicycle without training wheels, then driving car and dating. I’m not sure I can handle the latter; I may have to blink hard during that.

Thinking through the amazing technological changes the world has seen in my own life, it’s unfathomable to me the things Anna will see in her life.

My prayer is that she is happy and healthy at each step along the way, provided that’s God’s plan for her life.

Anna likes to be in control of things. Learning that she is not fully in control of the world will be a tough lesson for her one day.

For the time being, though, her imagination mixes with her plans for the future.

She told me recently her plan is to marry her little brother, James, who she loves dearly, and move out of our house one day.

I hope — the brother marriage aside — if that happens, I’m there to see it.

Until then, I’m trying not to blink so I can see as many moments as I can.

Happy birthday, little girl; I love you.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.