My daughter turned four-years-old recently and I'm having a tough time trying to wrangle my hands around that one.
It's not the fact that the Cub is a four-year-old now. That part is awesome! I can't even begin to explain the sheer joy it is to come home and have Piper shriek, "Daddy," as she runs to me and gives my legs a great bear hug. She then walks with me as I perform my nightly 'coming-home' routine of dispensing my keys and wallet on the counter and taking off my jacket.
As she accompanies me on this task she tells me everything that has happened since I left for work after lunching at home. If our dog Boon Mee jumped up and scratched her, I will be told all about it. If my wife Tanya had to get stern with the Cub or give her a time-out, I won't be home three minutes before Piper is giving me all the details.
She has a little game where she will ask me three questions every time I come home with a plastic bag from a store. She always asks if I brought her candy, and then adding with a smile how much she likes candy. No. Cookies, she'll ask, followed by the same qualifier, no. Ice cream? No.
It never fails to amuse me and it's always cute, at least to me. Sometimes I'll even surprise her by actually bringing her cookies, candy or ice cream.
I love her age and consider this the best time of my life. The thing that freaks me out is Tanya and I have been parents for four years and the time has flown by. It's scary how fast the years have gone.
I was speaking with a former co-worker about this the other day. Four years used to be a lifetime to me. When I was younger I had four years of high school. Well, I went to a junior high so I had three years there and then three years at the high school. Either way, I spent four years accumulating grades for graduation.
Then, after high school, I spent four years in the Marines. I went in when I was 18 and got out when I was 22. So because of high school and the Marines, I have ever since judged time in four-year increments.
So when Piper turned four I thought back to the first year of my enlistment and then compared it with Piper's first year. They both seemed to be so long. It's the same with year two, three and four. What I can't get a handle on is how long four years can be individually but how quickly a block of four years, like an enlistment in the Marines, can go so fast.
It's strange, I know, but that's me. And now I've been a father for the term of one enlistment, and I can't figure out where the time has gone.
At the risk of being selfish, I want it back, or at least to have it slow down. I imagine it will only be worse when Piper is 12 or God forbid 16. Three, than four enlistments?
I know that every father goes through some type of situation as I just explained and maybe I should chalk it up to growing pains.
It will be hard, but as long as Piper keeps greeting me with a shrieking "Daddy" and a hug each night I come home, I think I'll be able to finally grasp it one day.