Every day I come home and Lila is another year older. She'll be wearing a new jacket (or a new hand me down, anyway) that adds a generation and walking around like a two and half foot tall grown up. Today she ran to me, arms open in anticipation of embrace, and jumped onto my shoulders to deliver a hug. Now dads out there know that this welcome home hug is no ordinary hug. It is a coup de hug. An alpha and omega hug. A hug that transcends its own metahugness and implodes upon itself only to explode into a hug supernova to end all and create new hug universes. Am I laying it on a little thick? Too bad, it's the greatest feeling in the world, so let me hyperbolize. But still, when I picked her up again not ten minutes later, she'd already put on another five pounds and I swear was about to ask for my advice on selecting a grad school.
The thing that I do love about this rapid development is seeing the new things she's saying and doing and ways she's communicating all the time. In fact, I have a new favorite that gets me every time. Anytime she sees another kid she pauses what she's doing and says, gleefully, "Hi, friend." On Sunday we were swinging at the park and another dad brought his son around in a wagon. From across the wood chips Lila, mid-swing said, "Hi friend. Hi friend's daddy." And even if she can't see the new friend who is the subject of her greeting, she extends the courtesy of salutation anyway. Like on our walk tonight she heard some kids playing in a tire swing a block behind us and at the sound of one sneezing she stopped to offer, "bless, friend."
Sure, I think it's cute, but I'm a dad and a sucker. Kelsey has made more than one "hilarious" observation about me being wrapped around Lila's tiny perfect finger this week. But I can deal, because Lila's current habit has me thinking about her character and how the future miss Lila Jo will relate to people. I love that she considers herself a friend to all, and everyone a friend at first contact. Now as an introvert, I'm aware of the inherent challenges of having a daughter who is like her Aunt Jess or Uncle Scotty who isn't thriving unless she's surrounded by maximum occupancy. And I don't care one way or the other if she's a popular kid or not, but I love the glimpse of a life of hospitality that comes with calling people friends. I hope that proves accurate. Because who doesn't want to be greeted with an enthusiastic "Hi, friend" and have it be the truth, whether or not you've met her before? Exactly. Nobody.
And, just for some sad-but-cuteness, here's a picture of sick Lila when I stayed home with her last week. We watched a lot of Elmo. A. Lot. I took this picture roughly ten minutes after she threw up all over herself, which was one minute before she hoarsely squeaked, "paaancake." So, yeah. Puke, then pancake. I'm a great dad.