Matt Knutson: Active daughter keeps parents on their toes

Published 9:17 am Friday, February 24, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“You won’t believe what someone said to me at church tonight,” I told my wife after Gracelyn and I arrived back home from Mass. Most Sundays we attend two church services, one in the morning at Sera’s preferred denomination and one in the evening for mine. Some people have scoffed at this idea, but we’re several years in, and it’s working out great for our family. This particular Sunday evening, Sera wasn’t able to attend with Gracelyn and I because her mom’s Bible study group was meeting at the same time.

Thus, it was daddy-daughter time at the 6 p.m. church service where I was quickly reminded of why we tend to do things together as a family. Our little one is now fully walking, sometimes running, to wherever her heart desires. At times she has all of the adventure of her mother and none of the trepidation of her father. Had I taken my eyes off her for more than a brief moment, she certainly would be attempting to climb atop the altar in a most unholy way. When Jesus said become like the children, I don’t think he was referencing Gracelyn’s unyielding free spirit. I quickly adapted, and we spent a good chunk of the service outside of the sanctuary where our little girl could roam in peace.

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As communion was served and the service drew to a close, we returned to our seats to pack up the books and toys that had failed to catch Gracelyn’s attention. A nearby family approached, as they often do, to remark on how adorable they found our daughter. Yes, we’re blessed with a cute one, and sometimes I think she doubles down on her adventurous nature because she knows other people will smile and wave as she pushes the limits of socially acceptable behavior. It was at this point that the family asked something I had never been asked before. “Is she your little sister?”

It came at the most peculiar of times. I’ve learned there are times in parenthood where you are oozing confidence and think no one could possible be as good of a father as you. Then, there are times where you wonder how your life got to this point and if you’ll make it through the next few moments of screaming. At this moment in the parenthood journey, I was celebrating the successful end of a public outing with very minimal public embarrassment. Only awesome dads can pull that off, especially when Mom isn’t around. (I’ll take this brief moment to once again give a shout-out to single parents. I will never know how you do it, and you have my utmost respect.) In what world would a big brother put up with the antics I had just overcome? I’m sure my sisters would award me Brother of the Year in a heartbeat (right, sisters?), but very few older brothers would put up with Gracelyn’s very public thrill-seeking quests.

What was most surprising about the timing of the sibling question was that I had just celebrated my birthday the day before. While age has never really bothered me, and I count myself pretty fortunate for the accomplishments I’ve encountered for my age, there was a tinge of feeling old for the first time on my birthday this year. Maybe it’s the concept that fatherhood has finally settled in after the first year of beautiful chaos, or maybe it is that I recently started a new job that has a strong business professional culture, but that moment of realizing my age did dawn on me this year. I’m not at the stage where I’m dreading getting older, nor do I think I ever will be, but it was a bit of self-reflection I had not anticipated.

I acknowledge that I look quite young, and that when I’m 80 and I look like I’m 65, I’ll be the envy of everyone else at my assisted living home. That being said, I often forget about how young I look. It does take awhile to feel comfortable with not always looking the part. What I have learned in my many trips around the sun is that it is often more important to be able to do the part rather than look it. Perhaps our daughter’s keeping us on our toes in order to make us age faster. After a church service like that, I think I’d be OK with a wrinkle or two.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist living in Rochester.