(Note: I originally wrote this as one of my posts for the Early Learning Hub.  I changed and went a different direction, which you can see here, but wanted to keep this version to post on my own blog later.  I hope you enjoy!)

“I’m not a toddler I’m a baby” said my nearly two-year-old daughter not that long ago.  I often call her “baby girl” or “little one” but day by day she is continuing to grow and not look as much like the tiny little baby I could almost hold in one hand.  I recently wrote about my oldest going off to preschool for the first time…a big transition no doubt…but another big transition is seeing your youngest grow up and leave the baby phase behind.  There are a few things that I’ve really noticed as this change has taken place.

Independence – It’s been pretty easy to see how different my two kids have been, even since their first days, but the difference gets bigger and bigger as you see their personalities start to grow.  My daughter is so much more independent and a much bigger explorer than my son. She will often play on her own and loves to try to do things by herself. She’ll get frustrated and isn’t quite able to do everything she sets her mind to yet, but it is impressive to see how hard she tries.

Attitude – For such a sweet and compassionate soul she can really hold a grudge as well!  I recently saw her spend nearly two hours upset with a baby who was “annoying” her simply because he touched her shirt once.  She knows what she likes and doesn’t like and is not afraid to say something about it. This is a very good thing! However, it can also make asking her to get ready for bed or get her shoes on so we can leave a more difficult task.

Imagination – It is so fun to see the sweet and funny things that kids can dream up and pretend.  She already is more creative than I ever was and really enjoys playing dress-up and pretend with Lego’s, animals and little people.

As I look ahead to my “little one’s” birthday I’m thinking about the cute, tiny baby she used to be.  While I can’t help but feel sadness that the days of her quietly sleeping in my arms are gone, I can’t help but feel joy and pride when I see the beautiful little toddler she has become.

This is fatherhood…