My daughter was never a thumb sucker. She never really favored one stuffed toy or a blanket to carry around a lovey. A couple of the things that I perceive as classic kid moves, just didn’t catch on with my daughter.

She does, however, have her own little habits. She may not have had a lovey, but there was an entire year where she wore a tutu nearly every day. She’d pull the thing on no matter where we were headed or what we were doing. She wore it right up through the day of her preschool orientation, then more or less dropped the habit when she started school. I can now count on one hand how many times she’s worn it out in public in the last eight months, though she does request it on some days. She’s still not ready to let it go completely and it’s still in heavy rotation when she plays dress up.

My daughter may not have had a pacifier, but she does have her habit of playing with everyone’s ear. For her, this is both a connection and a comfort, much like a thumb would be for another child. It’s still one of my favorite things she does.

The other night I was snuggling her to sleep (no, I’m not sorry that I still do this) and I noticed another little thing that she does: keep one foot on me at all times while she’s drifting off to sleep. She’ll reach out with her foot while laying next to me, and this way she can feel that I’m still there no matter what other position she chooses to fall asleep in. There’s no sneaking out of the room while she’s not-quite-asleep when there’s a foot on you.

It’s at times like these when I realize how small she still really is, when daily it seems she’s growing at an unimaginable rate. I’m in awe of my daughter’s growth and development every day, but sometimes, I just want to hold on to the baby she once was. I love those reminders of the connection we share, of how much I’m still needed. These little things remind me that she’s still so little, and that I have many more years to enjoy helping her grow.