The surprise was supposed to be when my two year old came downstairs and saw more pictures and dangly items featuring Elmo from Sesame Street than you would see at a Toys 'r' Us.
The real surprise is how this tiny human who still cannot put more than three words together (and a lot of times we guess at what one of the words is) inspires me to be the best person I can be. I mean at this point she already believes I am the most impressive being in her tiny corner of the world. In her eyes, I could get away with being a jerk to other people as long as I still make wacky faces and noises.
The odd part is that, unlike most of my life, I will not settle for being likable enough to make everyone think I am pretty pleasant. She has forced me to become a better person.
Parker Ella Pearson just passed the 24-pound mark so I probably could take her in a fight. So, I figure her power does not come from power.
Plus, I do run into people with whom I have more interesting conversations than "Swing. Outside. Yayy." (That is her part.) My part usually involves, "Yayyy. Good girl. Love you."
The fact that she exists makes me actually pay attention to the world. (Did you know there are other channels besides ESPN and Comedy Central?) I have learned that because I need to know the kind of world Parker in which Parker is growing up.
The weird part in all of this is that she really is pretty easy to fool. All it takes to make her love me is being willing to chase her around in a circle and be able to read the same book about a teddy bear four or five times in a row. I could get away with being the shallow guy that people seemed to prefer when I was single. She would still go crazy when I walk in a room if all I had to offer was running to her and making a tuba-type sound on her belly.
For some reason I look into those blue eyes and I want to earn that giddiness. The more unconditional the love she gives me the more I need to be worthy of it. At this point, as long as I am willing to push her on a swing for twenty or thirty minutes I could definitely be the pretty thoughtless and careless guy who just floated through life and she would still light up and say "DADDY!" every time I am around.
Yet, even with that lack of a challenge I challenge myself. This little girl is forcing me to stop being a GUY. She is making me be a MAN.
I can tell the difference because people who expect me to give them grief and bring a non-stop barrage of "Seinfeld" and "Saturday Night Live" quotes now get commentary on the quality of schools and how we need to do something so our kids do not have to pay for the national debt.
Who is this guy?!
I can say that the ME from my time as a very popular GUY would probably not want to spend a lot of time with this MAN. I definitely have not reached who I want to be--nowhere close yet! It's this little girl, who in just two years of life has made me want to get there.
I just want to know that when she actually does have thoughtful opinions she will be thinking of someone who did everything to make her proud and point at me and say, "Yep, that's my Dad."