What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

My daughter is about to turn one and a half. She’s grown into such an interesting and funny little girl. But I still have such a hard time communicating with her.

She gets what I’m saying – but it’s the relaying info back to me where we get caught up. She knows if she says the word loud enough and points, I’ll get it. If she screams “DAD!” before something, she knows she’ll get my attention. (This cracks up my wife every time.)

It’s fine and dandy when she’s just asking for her cup or a snack. She’s now taken to just getting up and going to get whatever she wants (she’s very independent). We get by and no one goes to bed hungry.

A couple weeks ago – she was sick. She’s been sick before, but the first night of this wave, it was something different. She had a runny nose. She had a cough. But there was something in her cries and whimpers that really sounded ‘off’. She tried to tell me what was wrong and I couldn’t understand. Her teary eyes looked straight into mine – pleading with me to help her, and I didn’t know what she was saying.

It killed me. I was helpless. All I could do was sit there and hold my baby as she cried – for hours and hours. This kind of all-nighter took me by surprise. I changed her, I gave her water, I sang to her, I walked her, I rocked her, I changed PJs, I got her favorite doll, I changed rooms, I laid down with her, I read books…. It wasn’t helping. She just wanted to tell me what was wrong and Daddy couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

As the cough got worse, my wife and I decided it was time to steam her up. I sat with my baby in my arms on the floor of the bathroom. The door was closed and the shower turned up to lava-hot. The steam filled the room, the towels, the rugs, our clothes, my glasses and finally – her chest.

When my wife took her to the doctor the next day, he mentioned that he believed it was a flu-like virus that was causing her aches and pains. A little baby Tylenol and she seemed to be somewhat better.

It’s been haunting me since that night though – I couldn’t understand what she needed. If she was able to tell me she had aches and pains, Tylenol would have made a perfect solution. But, I wasn’t able to help. I felt useless.

It happened with my son when he was learning to talk too, and now he and I have grand conversations.

photo: getty images

At only 3 years old, he’s amazing at explaining the word he’s trying to say (which I don’t get). He can describe the use of the word – allowing me to figure it out. This kid is so much smarter than I am.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, and I know this isn’t just a ‘Dad’ thing. All parents go through things like this. What did you all do to work on this? I’d love to hear some ideas in the comments – help a guy out!

I know that sooner than later my daughter is going to be talking non-stop. Then it will just be the references I don’t understand – but I still have a few years before I’m that out of touch… right?

-KP

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