I saw a few milestones this week in Rachel’s little life.

Monday, March 28, she put two words together in a very deliberate way, directly to me and in the proper context. “Bye-bye daddy,” she said as I dropped her off at daycare. This wasn’t the first time. On March 19, she kept repeating “Spencer gone” (in her own, mushy pronunciation) when we visited my brother and her cousin, Spencer, left to visit friends. But it was the first time she’d addressed me using two words together to make her point.

The other event marks a subtle shift in independence, a trait she far from lacks. But, I don’t usually see her exercise that independence in strange contexts. I run at the YMCA when it’s cold, since I can’t take her in the jogging stroller and it has child care. A nice woman named Dee helps Rachel feel comfortable while daddy takes to the treadmill.

I’ve taken her to the YMCA child care perhaps a dozen times. Up until the last one or two, she’d hug my leg and whimper if I tried to pry her off. Thursday, we went to the Y and entered the child care room. She ran off without prodding, deposited her bottle and snack cup on a cupboard, and climbed into a rocking chair. “Oh, we’re good,” Dee said. I knew we were.

Rachel gave me and it’s-all-right glance as she rocked, and I made my exit.

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