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Among Life's Milestones - A Daughter's First Birthday

My little girl Lola turned one on Sunday and, I hate to say it, but, man, what a slacker! She doesn't make her bed or do any chores; she refuses to cover her mouth when she yawns; and she's started to throw her food all over the place. She pays no rent, won't lift a finger to dry herself after a bath, and, between you and me, she can be a real crybaby. My wife Melissa and I've been thinking that one day Lola might pack her stuffed cat, zip the zipper, and hit the road. But as Melissa reminds me every now and then: "She's still heee-ere."

Not only is Lola completely unsocialized, but she's pretty much undone OUR own decades of social training in ways we once teased veteran parents about. Nowadays we absentmindedly sniff at Lola's diaper in public. At work, I'll catch myself looking fondly at a bit of dried spitup on my shirt, courtesy of you-know-who. Just last week I made TWO job candidates look at pictures of Lola on my desktop. Yup, it's true: I've become an insufferably happy pappy.

In fairness, while Lola's stripped us of our dignity, she's also greatly expanded our social circles.

Take her three babysitters. They're the ones who taught her to dance in her high chair. They helped teach her how to wave - with palms facing inward, instead than outward, it's true, but picky picky. With our own camera-slash-videorecorder out for repairs, they're responsible for our last few weeks of Lola photos and YouTube videos, including the only ones we have of her early steps. These young women are friends-for-life now.

Lola spent this past Halloween as a chicken a quite thoughtful, somewhat somber chicken. Thru her, at a party thrown by someone in Melissa's moms group, we made the acquaintance of her friends the tiger, the bear, Yoda, and a little creature I couldn't quite identify. At a party on High Street that night, Lola introduced us to the Three Wise Men, The Big Bad Wolf, Mr. IPOD, and Rabid Mets Fan, among others.

I have work colleagues - in Columbus, across the country, even internationally - who give me grief if too much time passes between Lola pics, videos, and updates.

HEY, Lola's the reason I got on Facebook, and now I have 105 friends! I know some people have hundreds, even thousands of friends on Facebook. But 105 isn't half-bad for a guy whose wife just last year felt compelled to set him up on a "friend date".

Last week on David Letterman I heard that noted expert, Julia Roberts, say about parenting: "you just crack wide open." Take it from Mr. Happy Pappy: it's true. Having Lola has added a whole new dimension and vibe to my relationships with other adults. And I don't think it's just that a lot of people are drawn to Lola and to babies in general. It's also that babies give us an excuse to approach and connect with each other, an impulse we often suppress because of fear, social anxiety, awkwardness, whatever. So thank you, sweetie. And if you ever do decide to hit the road with that stuffed cat, do you think you could leave behind your rolodex?