The new normal: fathering 3 girls

Yesterday we had an interesting conversation over breakfast and it went something like this:

My wife: Olivia, no back talk, do you understand?  

Riley: What about front talk mommy?  

My wife: What’s front talk Riley?

Riley: I don’t know.  

At that point, my wife and I both looked at each other laughing, because clearly neither did we, but we were impressed at the question nonetheless.  Leave it to Riles to come up with something like that.  True to form, we’re still figuring it out ourselves.  Clearly that’s what parenting is all about, making things up as we go, trying our best to learn from the wisdom of others, and understanding our kids so that we can adapt what works to fit their needs.

If you had asked me before I became a father if I saw myself as a dad of 3 girls, I probably wouldn’t have said yes.  I always wanted a large family, at least 2 boys, 2 girls.  But in truth, if I were honest, I’ve always found something special about father daughter relationships.  Seeing the way my sisters grew up without their father, seeing the damage that negligent fathers can do to the development of daughters, something inside of me always wanted to rectify that for my family.  So i couldn’t be prouder and happier about the opportunity I have to be a daddy of now 3 girls.

And it’s been fascinating to watch the older two, Riles and Olivia settle into their birth order roles (i’ve been reading a lot about birth order lately, fascinating stuff).  Riley clearly has the stench of responsibility and my daily prayer for her is that she doesn’t take herself and life too seriously.  I’ll never have this worry about Olivia, now the middle, no longer the baby.  It was almost as if she was born with a bit of an edge, in her earliest pictures she can be seen cutting her eyes and staring down the camera as if to dare me to take a picture lol.  She’s the talkative one (hence the need to remind her not to “backtalk” at breakfast).  And well, London is only 2 weeks old, but we’ll see what her personality turns out to be.  I assume she’ll exhibit many of the characteristics of the baby of the family, especially with such a distance between herself and her sibling (Riley is 5, Olivia is 3).

One thing I’m thinking about a lot these days, because of their birth orders and the natural tendencies to compare, is to find time to do things separately with my girls to further study their individual identities.  The other day I came home and as usual Riles was upstairs in the playroom by herself creating something brilliant as grandma puts it.  Sure enough, i went upstairs to find her making a lantern for her teacher’s birthday (she just came up with that on her own!).  So I hung out with her asking her questions about what made her want to create that today.  On another day, Olivia was driving me up the wall with her repeated questioning…she does that a lot, reminds me of myself…so I acquiesced and let her get on the computer and we played games together on disney junior.  Turns out, technology is Olivia’s best friend, it’s the rare thing that keeps her captivated (TV doesn’t do it, she literally has to be manipulating an I-pad or i-phone).  I’ll have to remember that for the next long car trip.

I’m in full study mode of my girls.  What makes them tick?  What makes them unique?  It’s been a fun learning experience thus far, and it’s only just beginning with the new one.

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