When you watch a child play, you learn a lot about how they see the world.
Imagination can take you to all sorts to wonderful places, even the roof.
"Daddy, you can't do that!" my 2-year-old yelled one evening.
Perplexed, I put the dish I was cleaning aside and looked around the corner. "What can't I do?"
"Not you!" she replied.
"Do you have another dad?" I asked.
"No, silly," she said. "I am playing." She gave me a look that told me to return to the dishes.
This has been a regular occurrence. I'll hear her call for me, but really she is in the middle of an interesting story line that may already have been optioned by Netflix. When I realize I haven't been summoned, I apologize for interrupting the show.
In this latest instance, Dad decided to enter the house via the roof, not through the door. This is highly frowned upon.
Another day, I heard her yell for help in a way that said she wasn't really in danger but more warning someone, say her sister, to leave her alone. But my oldest was on the other side of the room coloring. The distress call was from a tiny squirrel that had fallen off of a cliff into the snowy bottom at the base of the ottoman. It needed Elsa from "Frozen" to build some ice stairs to save it, she explained.
She is about to turn 3, and a lot is changing. She started getting herself dressed, in clothes that match, no less. She's using the bathroom on her own, though she can't reach the faucet yet to wash her hands. She can sit through an entire movie, if it's a good one. She knows all of the words to the songs that here sister loves. And the other day, she rolled her first Yahtzee.
But the biggest example is in the way that she plays. When you watch a child play, you learn a lot about how they see the world.
One night, she noticed me watching her and asked if I wanted to play, too. I did.
"You can be Sven," she said, handing me a reindeer figurine. "We are having a party."
"Great!" I said, walking the reindeer toward the door of the house. She stopped me.
"Sorry," she said. "You can't come in the house. You have to wait outside."
These are the moments I live for as a father -- those moments where I feel like Mister Rogers changing his shoes and putting on a cardigan to share some wisdom.
"You know, you should try and involve everyone," I said. "How would you feel if everyone was invited to the party except you?"
"Not good," she said. "But I invited Sven."
So, I moved Sven toward the door. And she stopped me.
"Sorry, you have to wait outside," she said.
"Why do I have to wait outside?" I said in my best reindeer voice.
She walked her toy up to mine. "You have to take your shoes off to come in, but reindeer don't have shoes. So, you can't come in."
I looked at her.
"Plus, you won't fit through the door," she said. "But I'll bring you some cake."
"OK," I replied sadly. "Have Dad bring it to the roof."
David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @DaveManley