Like, duh, it’s hard to be a parent. I mean, like, seriously, duh. It’s harder than, you know, math. Or brain surgery. Or getting a tall, non-fat, no-whip caramel macchiato and drinking only half of it.

It’s harder than trying to channel a 13-year-old girl when you’re a 31-year-old man.

Is that weird?

Forgive me, I’m not operating on a ton of sleep. For months now, I’ve been sacrificing. Rest. Time with Colleen. Personal goals. And just about the time I start to lose it and begin talking like a teenage space cadet (not you, Kayla), I get a much-needed reminder of why we do this.

It started this morning when Declan took a 2-hour nap, which seemed (not surprisingly) to rejuvenate him. Afterward, the three of us went to the coffee shop (as we do most mornings) and Deck lit up, showing off many of the skills he’s learning, showing off all the charm and personality that is uniquely his.

He’s a babbler. Full of vowels and consonants and inflections and squeaks and strings of almostlanguage. At coffee, it was all on display. He was loud. He was funny. He was talking pretty much the entire time. To plants. To strangers. To us. Once he figures out that you’re not supposed to talk with your mouth full of fingers, he’s going to be a linguistic force. Both Colleen and I think he will be saying his first words before long. Incredible.

For weeks, we’ve noticed he’s good with his hands. He picks things up, turns them right-side up and upside down, and moves them to and from his mouth with surprising control. Lately, he has discovered that hands are made up of fingers, and that fingers operate independently. He’ll hold his hand in front of his face, curl his fingers into a loose fist, and then spread them out again, all the while staring at them with an expression that says “This is going to change my life.” And it will. That knowledge is going to come in “handy” once we start giving him forks and spoons for solid food, or toys with buttons to press and pull.

So today at coffee, Colleen and I sat there for about an hour and talked as I held Declan and Declan showed off, cooing and smiling and thrusting his legs. I didn’t want it to end. It was the best. This is the same kid who’d been such a pain overnight?

Mostly, I could just feel his lust for life, to use a phrase made famous by Iggy Pop. Declan is fascinated with the world. It’s probably part of the reason sleep has been a challenge. I think he has a tough time turning off his powers of observation. He wants to see it all, to understand it all. Just like his dad. Although, sometimes, his dad forgets. The labor of life is hard, it’s beautiful, it’s maddening. And to get to watch as my son discovers that… it’s worth the sacrifices. It’s even worth squealing about. Like, totally.