A not-so-restful Christmas holiday, brought to you by my toddler

My Christmas holiday started perhaps later than I needed it to. I struggled through the first semester, between starting a new anxiety medication and my daughter’s shaky health, due to her daycare being hit by seemingly every cold and sickness. So, when the holiday season started, I was ready to take a load off and let my laptop collect dust, while I took some personal time to recharge. Because of how the schedule worked out towards the end of the first semester I was off from school for a month. My daughter was also set to have a lengthy Christmas break and my wife had no time off, due to just starting at her new job.

I had a restful first week by myself, before my daughter, Emma officially started her break on Dec. 17, which was a Saturday. I spent the weekend with Emma and my wife, Vanessa.

The fun began on Monday. It started with a big and little bowl of cereal. Emma’s pick was Honey Nut Cheerios and I had Raisin Bran. Throw in a banana and some sliced strawberries and that was breakfast. After a quick wipe down to prevent Emma from smearing banana and strawberry fragments all over the couch, she let out a cry: “Cocomelon, Cocomelon.” This meant I had to put Netflix on the tv and put on her favourite show, or else she would throw herself on the floor and scream because she is a toddler and that’s apparently the thing to do. With the blanket tents, kids’ music and steady stream of snacks, we made it through that first day. Just as Vanessa exited her office to signal the end of her work day, I was passed out on the couch and Emma was on the floor with a cookie crumpled up in her hand.

If the first day of daddy-daughter time was any indication, my almost two-year-old was going to keep me busy. Through her countless snacks, apple juice refills and opening each cupboard that she can but isn’t supposed to, it was surely going to be an adventure.

Thankfully, I came up with a plan and found that Emma has a passion for reading – or better yet – getting a pile of books and having me read them to her. All that’s required is snacks, a drink, a warm blanket and an imagination to make up words in English, as most of the books are French. We also delved into colouring books, as Emma has an interest in asking for them each time we visit the dollar store.

With Christmas 2022 being Emma’s second Christmas and the first when she was more aware of what was going on, my wife and I took her to get the tree in Chelsea, Que., from a childhood friend of my wife’s. After decorating the tree with plastic ornaments and lights, Emma and our four cats decided the tree was their personal punching bag. The ornaments would fly all throughout the house, courtesy of Emma. The cats are another story, as many nights in a row I would head to the kitchen for a snack only to find the tree on the floor and one of the cats laying on it shamelessly.

Despite all the running around, picking up ornaments and putting jimmy-rigged locks on the drawers and cupboards to prevent Emma from getting into them, I wouldn’t trade my time with my daughter for the world. At the beginning of the holiday, my daughter would be surprised to see me waking her up by myself, as my wife and I would generally wake her up earlier before my wife starts her workday at 8 a.m.

With my time off, she would end up getting excited and happy, I would hear her over the monitor yelling out to Daddy, for me to go and get her out of her crib, which really warmed my heart. Being a parent is the most rewarding job in the world. It surely goes beyond the 40-hour week, but seeing the smile at the beginning and end of each day and hearing the giggles can’t be replicated. And most importantly, the amount she learns each day is incredible. If you blink, you will miss something.

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