The Born Adventurer

A Dad’s Letter to a 1-Year-Old

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First trip to the beach!

First trip to the beach!

Dear Anneka,

As I’m writing this, you’re still a bit too young to read. But one day, you might enjoy what I have to say the day before your first birthday.

Let me start by listing a few things that you’ve done before today: You have flown on 18 different airplanes on trips as short as one hour and as long as eight hours. You have been in three foreign countries, met your German relatives, eaten all sorts of unusual foods, traveled by high-speed train, learned to walk and much more.

You also seem to love music in all its forms. When I play the guitar, you will walk or crawl over to me to listen. You always like to touch the guitar, and it seems like some part of you understands how it works (you always try to touch the strings). You have your own small guitar, but seem to like my guitars best … and there’s one in particular that I hope will be your first and favorite guitar if you decide to play. It has a long and very cool history behind it! You don’t seem to like the violin, harmonica or didgeridoo quite as much – but that will probably change. By the way, there are probably only a few families around here that have a didgeridoo. I may have to make a small one so you can try playing it.

A few days ago, your mother went to exercise. I took you to a coffee house; there was a musician playing a guitar and singing that morning. You watched and listened while sharing a ham, egg and cheese bagel with me. You walked around a bit to meet other people, and danced a bit in front of the musician. Everybody thought you were a lot of fun!

1-year-old

Anneka displays her prowess sleeping in the big position.

So about that food. You love salmon, cheese, steak, chicken …you’ve also eaten mussels, crab and a wide variety of fish. This is unusual for someone your age – your mom and I believe in introducing you to the same foods we eat, and it’s worked really well. You’re not a picky eater, but you are discerning. You’ve been known to refuse food that doesn’t meet your standards (that happens at school, never with us). You don’t seem to like desserts as much. You’re good with vegetables, especially yams and sweet potatoes. You’ve very good with noodles, too. At your first dinner with your German cousin, you had a great time eating a noodle called spaetzle. Your mom and I have talked about getting a spaetzle press – I’m sure we’ll get to it soon!

first birthday

Little person, huge plane

You also like being a little chilly. Most of our trip to Europe was a bit chilly, and you seemed perfectly happy. You seemed to like flying in airplanes and riding on trains. Many people have told us how good you are at traveling.

Here’s something funny – you like to sleep in a very unusual way. You kneel, and then fold your body over your knees. If you fall asleep when I carry you, I’ll put you in bed on your back. But without even waking up, you’ll roll over onto your position (your mom and I call it the Bug Position, but in yoga it’s called “child’s pose” … but nobody in my yoga classes sleeps that way!).

1-year-old

This one is ready to be your first full-size guitar!

You also have a natural confidence about you. Even at a playground where you’re one of the smallest people around, you don’t let all the bigger kids running around scare you in any way. You try to make friends (and usually succeed). You smile and laugh. Speaking of laughs, you have an understanding of what makes people laugh. There’s this little noise you make – your mom and I called it the “wubba wubba” sound. I don’t know what made you start doing it, but it makes us laugh. So whenever you feel like some laughing will be good for everyone, you do the wubba-wubba noise.

It hasn’t all been easy, though. As you learned to crawl, you’d sometimes fall over and hit your nose on the ground. Nothing makes a dad as sad as seeing his little daughter get a bloody nose. But it’s part of growing up, and there’s just no way to avoid it. It happened to me, too. You also caught a few colds, but nothing could seem to make you unhappy for very long. I think there’s a message there: Life will sometimes give you a bloody nose, but you can learn from it and be happy again soon.

baby's first Halloween

Mom and Furiosa celebrate a happy Halloween!

While you like other people, sometimes you need your own time. At the playground or at daycare, you’ll sometimes go off by yourself and play independently. I think this is a great trait – it tells me that you’ll learn to be happy by yourself. I fully believe that people need to be happy by and with themselves before they can be happy with anyone else; that’s not to say others can’t make your life even better – but first, start with yourself.

Your mother and I feel very lucky. You are healthy, lively, smart, adventurous and very charismatic. I’ll write to you again next year to let you know what’s happened!

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