by Hugh O. Smith

My daughter is six going on twenty-two. Things are changing. Too damn fast.

Yo Gabba Gabba, Dora the Explorer, and Little Bill aren’t on the television anymore. I miss them. Even the Fresh Beat Band is a thing of the past.

Now there’s the Disney Channel and the more grown up Nickelodeon and something called Big Time Rush (a blatant Monkees rip off). She picks out her own clothes, and where I used to take her to dance class and walk her inside, now she runs in alone, waving as the door shuts behind her.

I’ve been preparing for this, although I didn’t imagine it would come so soon. The most jarring change came in the last two weeks. I’m used to hearing Daddy this and Daddy that, but now, suddenly, I’m Dad. I let it go for a few days before I asked her why I was now Dad instead of Daddy.

“Because the kids at school said Daddy is for babies,” she said.

“That’s not true at all honey,” I insisted. She looked unconvinced.

“I know, but I like calling you Dad,” she said. “I’m comfortable with Dad.” And that was that.

I don’t know why this bothers me so much. Maybe because her voice calling me daddy is proof she was still my baby, no matter what channels she watches or clothes she picks out. Or maybe I’m just used to it. After all, she’s called me Daddy since she could form the word.

I didn’t make a fuss, though, and after a couple of days I got used to it, or I pretended to. Still, I sometimes wish for a simpler time when she wasn’t too heavy or too tall to lift and carry in my arms and there was no problem that couldn’t be solved with a juice box and a piggyback ride.

Then, a few days ago, we got the news that her beloved Grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I didn’t tell my daughter the details of her Grandmother’s illness, all she knows is that Grandma is very sick. Sad and scared, she climbed onto my lap and called me Daddy again, looking for answers I just didn’t have.

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