As I continue to try and figure out this parenting gig, I can’t help but compare how I thought I would act (pre-child) and what I actually do.

We both knew going into it that I would probably be more strict (I’d call it “firm but fair”) in my parenting style. Of course, the thinking back then revolved around discipline more than anything else, or at least what I thought that concept entailed.

I find myself wanting to set pretty rigid boundaries, despite V only being 18 months old. I believe she can still understand consistency if not the reasoning behind our “no’s.” I recognize that this can come across as being too rigid, especially as I constantly need work on my tone when “laying down the law.” Yet I can’t help but find myself falling into the socialized trap of acting as the stern father who is iron in all things (especially regarding her protection and rules—in that order). Plus, I don’t want her trying to put one over on the old man (or her mother) just because she’s so darned cute. I’ve been there V, I wrote the book on puppy-dog eyes! I’m impervious to your charms and I can put up a wall to deflect any emotional bombardment that might be launched my way.

Then she throws her arms around my neck and gives me a hug, saying “da-dee.”

Needless to say, I fold faster than goose shit through a hot tin horn (a local colloquialism). She has undermined that wall more efficiently than the sappers at Rochester castle in 1215 (score one for nerdom). I wonder how I could have been seemingly so cruel and cold to her as I scoop her up and shower her with tickles and kisses. After a bit she toddles over to the lamp and looks at me as she reaches for the chain to turn it on.

“No, no” I say sweetly with a smile.

Then she looks me in the eye, gives me a sly smirk and pulls the chain before dashing off into the other room.

All I can think is that it’s going to be a long 18 years.