Baby Or Not? That is the Question for Grace

She’s just a baby.


Grace is the youngest, therefore, she gets that name. The Baby. I’m 41, she’s 8. When I’m 91, and she’s 58, she’ll still be The Baby.

Grace plays like John Kerry on this issue. Daddy carries her on his back, baby monkey style. But Grace also wants to do things on her own, figuring anything she can reach with help from a kitchen chair is fair game. She’s a second-grader who thinks like a high schooler sometimes. Good and bad.

Science gives me no concrete solution.

Theory 1: Baby status ends on the first day of kindergarten

False. She breezed through the celebrated 100th day of kindergarten straight through to graduation. First grade is a memory. She’s better than halfway through second grade. No, she’s not in driver’s ed yet, but she’s asked for cute boots for her birthday and I swear she had on mascara the other day.

She’s still on the Kissasaurus’ visit list. Still my baby.

Theory 2: A lost tooth begets big-girl status, officially

False. Her first wiggly artifact popped out during lunch at school. Many more have since followed, replaced by big-girl chompers that more readily resemble sharks’ teeth. She even uses toothpaste that doesn’t taste like cotton candy and her toothbrush isn’t shaped like Scooby Doo.

I bet she’d still let me brush them. Still my baby.

Theory 3: If a child requests crustless sandwiches and orders chicken nuggets in a Mexican restaurant, color her baby

False. It might hold water in the “I just want chicken nuggets!” argument (oh, and mac and cheese), but this argument falls apart at the mechanically-separated seams. Elise requested crust-off status on her sandwiches up until age 13. And this weekend, at age 15, she just left them on the plate.

So, false, thanks to Elise’s picky eating habits. Still my baby. Both of them.

Theory 4: A child who eats pizza with toppings is sophisticated enough to shun the baby label

False. She shuns all things Little Ceasar’s (although kids today have no idea how awesome the big rectangular pies they used to serve in the paper wrappers … can I get a witness?), and she’ll surgically remove any toppings (except for olives, but olives are baby food).

Silver lining: I get her discarded toppings. Still my baby. And SUPREME supreme pizza.

Theory 5: When she nets her first soccer goal, her baby status is traded

False. The score-happy monkey had many hat tricks under her belt the day she pulled my pants down between two busy soccer fields. After one particularly effective scoring game, she declared as she climbed into the car, “daddy, sometimes I’m pretty, and sometimes I’m dirty.”

By the looks of her uniform and the scowl on the other coach’s face, I’d say it was a dirty day.

But it sure was pretty.

In conclusion …

This is tough: She’s little enough to ride on my shoulders, and play baby dolls. She’s often painted up with temporary tats, susceptible to the cookie bribery (who am I kidding? So am I), and will tool around on while her sisters look at Pinterest and Star Dolls.

She’s snuggleable, but less tolerant of my scratchy chin. She made me a folder last season to take to Carolina Panthers games I cover for the Associated Press, with the left pocket labled “win” and the right “lose” – with happy and sad faces indicating which is which. I use it, after almost every game.

When she draws me, I’m still a stick figure with messy hair and a crooked smile, not the anatomically and visually accurate rendition her 12-year-old sister does. (Let me run on the treadmill another month before you draw me again, Marie!)

I asked Grace about her “dirty” game recently. She didn’t complain about the refs or the goals we gave up late in the game to settle for a tie, wiping out Grace’s hat trick. Babies are supposed to be all “mine mine mine,” right?

Instead, she gave praise for the girl’s effort.

“Did you see her stretching and running and jumping on the ball when it came close?” she reminded me. “She made some really good saves, daddy!”

That’s not so babyish. Kind of … big-kid like.

Me:That’s my big girl.

Grace:No, Daddy. I’m your baby.

I won’t argue. But only for the next 60 years or so … tops.



  1. Lisa says:

    Beautiful kids!!!

    1. Mine are, yes – but I don’t post their pictures on my blog any more. So I use these stock-photo stand-ins!

  2. Chris Carter says:

    Oh I just LOVE this post! Such an honest and thoughtful take on how a daddy sees her baby growing up… I could relate to it all as a mom…with both my kids!! My almost 7 year old still says, “hold me like a baby mommy” and yet he can run with the big kids like he’s 14 years old too. All those milestones and stepping stones lead us to believe they are growing up…when really, there are still so many whispers of “baby” still in them. 🙂 Holding on to it too…

    1. Staying home with that baby today for a case of head lice. Poor kid. That’s what happens when everyone in school is doing tumbling on the same mat! I’ll take a work day at home while she watches Shrek any day. That’s my baby.

      Thanks Chris!

    2. I kind of see the other two as babies still, too. I remember Elise in a jumper heading off to kindergarten. Marie with her front teeth missing. Seems like yesterday.

      Today, Grace is sleeping on the couch. I stayed home with her because she has lice! Poor kid. But I just tucked her in with her soccer blanket. I think tucking in means she’s still a baby, right?

  3. Pretty sure shes always the baby, no matter while milestones occur. Evil is my youngest and my middle daughter (complete with middle daughter syndrome) gets fully disgusted when I refer to her as *the baby* so I make it clear shes my baby too ,she just chose to take big girl status a lot earlier than my Evil . 🙂

    1. Those middles are something else, aren’t they? I love that you refer to your baby as Evil. Capital E. Must learn more about this child!

  4. Kim Hughes says:

    I love this blog. You’re going to have to share this with her in a few years 🙂

    1. Are you kidding? I’ll remind her of at least one of these items once a month. Minimum!

      Thanks KH!

  5. Cynthia Persin says:

    Great Blog Eli!!! Yes no matter what age….she will always be the Baby. I have three and the youngest now has her own Baby…But she to is still the baby of the family. She actually like it. LOL

    1. Thanks Cynthia! I really think the baby always likes to have that title, you know? It’s kind of a Get out of Jail free card in life. Well, except that it won’t really get you out of jail.

  6. ilene says:

    My baby just turned 5 and the same daughter who *insisted* on zippering her own coat at preschool pick yesterday- whose multi attempts almost made us late for the bus stop of my older kids, also insisted on being carried down the stairs from her bedroom this morning. I have a feeling she will be flip flopping with this a long time- maybe until she’s 58.

    1. I think we kind of like this, don’t we? For them to sort of need us, but branch out on their own a bit. Flip-flopping has to last to at least age 58. Wait, how old is John Kerry?

  7. Ugghhh…my baby just turned 3 and she rolled her eyes at me! Already! She’s one step closer to becoming one of them (and they are awesome from time to time but they are flip floppers at their own convenience) and even though I agree that she’ll always be my baby, it makes me sad.

    1. Older siblings are horrible influences. Almost as bad as Disney channel shows.

  8. Anja says:

    Absolutely lovely!! My baby will be turning 18 in March….that name never goes away. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Anja! Does she mind you calling her the baby? Not that it’ll matter in my case.

      1. Anja says:

        No, not when I call her baby. 🙂 I don’t use it every time but save it for the big moments. She had wonderful news the other day and I immediately said, “I am so proud of my baby girl”.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        smart! That’s the way to sneak it in there, like putting the veggies on the bottom of the bowl in Chicken Alfredo.

        I call mine “The Baby,” like it’s some sort of title. “Daddy’s baby” is another common term. She doesn’t usually object.

      3. Anja says:

        Hmmm my kids actually like their veggies…..ha

        My daughter would prefer Princess as her title. 🙂

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