An Open Letter to my Newly Two-Year-Old Daughter

Dear Maddie,

Today you are two years old, and I am the stereotypical emotional father who can’t believe how much you have grown and evolved since you were that impossibly small little being whose appearance changed the course of my life.

I am so proud of you. While your first birthday was epic in its own right, this one somehow seems like even more of a milestone. Your physical growth has finally caught up with the rest of the toddler population, and your emotional and social growth has surpassed almost any two-year-old I’ve ever met.

Look at this kid.You astound me every day with your increasing vocabulary, your hilarious jokes1 and your ability to pick up on context and social cues. You are listening to everything that your parents say and understanding far more of it than we think. I never thought that we would be spelling out words and speaking in Spanish before you turned two, but that has been our reality for several months now.

No matter how many photos or videos I take of this precious time, this has already become one of those ages that I wish I could freeze in amber and pull out to enjoy years from now in all its fullness and freshness. You are a marvel.

For the past several months, being your dad2 has been nothing short of delightful. You are curious, intelligent, emotive, thoughtful and hilarious.

There are so many amazing things you do completely unbidden. Like saying thank you when we give you something. Or saying “good job mowing the lawn, dada!” when I come in from mowing the lawn.

Today you asked me to “play toys” with you and asked me to “sit on rug” in the living room. We started by playing with your foam letters which you love to use to spell “Maddie,” “Charlie,” and other people and things in the room. “We need a M. That start Maddie.”

After we had fully spelled your name3, you sauntered over to me and started gently rubbing my back with your hands, as you’ve probably seen Mommy do. “That feel better, Dada?” you asked. Yes, Maddie, it feels much better.

You got to do a lot of your favorite things today. You listened to “Joe Pace” (Old Joe’s Place) while I changed you, because you are currently hardcore obsessed with the soundtrack to Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind. You also love Havana (“Ooh Na Na”), Grow by Andy Grammar, and Uptown Girl. I have a special playlist for you on Spotify now.

You got to hang out at our house with your similarly aged girlfriends, even though you still just mostly play around them in the same room.

You got to go to a library and hang out with all of your uncles. You got to “play toys” and read books and blow bubbles. You got to walk “to the wood chips”–a planter full of wood chips at the end of our block–which has become your favorite field trip.

You enjoyed the Sesame Street-themed party posters we hung in the dining room featuring Cookie and Elmo and Birt (Big Bird). “Those friends watching me eat!”

My little girlYou also skipped your nap and were a bit cantankerous by the time we were ready to celebrate tonight. As we did a birthday call to Grandma and Grandpa, you chanted, “I’m not sleeping!” You freaked out when Mommy put the number 2 candle on the Mariano’s cheesecake we bought. “Dinfrent candle!” and you ripped it out. We tried normal candles and you didn’t approve those either. We ended up holding a candle near the cake and singing to you.

Singing happy birthday is one of your favorite things, too. You had been looking forward to this day for weeks, and honestly so had we. The only thing more delightful than just watching you be yourself is being able to delight you with some new experience or song or catch phrase.

I love you more than you can possibly know, and I love that I can feel the love coming back from you these days. Every moment that you’re asleep feels like a wasted opportunity to spend quality time with you.

Happy birthday to my precocious, outrageous, fantastic little girl. I love you.



  1. both intentional and unintentional
  2. or just being anyone in your general vicinity
  3. There’s only one D in the set, so we have to steal a magnetic D off of the fridge to complete your name

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