It started with a Stormtrooper.

A Stormtrooper LEGO LED light, to be exact, which I happened to spy beside me while I was taking pictures of my then two-week old baby girl. I took a picture of the Stormtrooper (whom I named Stormy) peering over her basket with the caption “Sometimes, even Stormtroopers just want to help”, and posted it on Instagram.

That one picture of Baby Cheang (or rather, #BabyCheang) and Stormy was contagious, and I began to take more and more pictures of her with all my pop culture toys and collectibles, just for the heck of it. Optimus Prime, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Ultraman, Jack Sparrow… those were just some of the “friends” my daughter grew up with. And of course, Stormy became a regular fixture, as I used him for weekly “size comparisons” to measure just how much she has been growing.

Stormy wouldn’t have missed Baby Cheang’s  first birthday party for the world. Photos: Michael Cheang

Stormy wouldn’t have missed Baby Cheang’s first birthday party for the world.

My daughter turned one earlier this week, and it’s no longer possible to take pictures of her without her trying to take a bite out of the toys. She’s also a lot taller than Stormy these days, and has taken to swinging him around like a hammer. Poor guy.

Baby Cheang was born last year, on Father’s Day to be exact. What a day that was. It started out with the World Cup match between England and Italy (which England lost, yay!), and ended with me staring at my little baby daughter, asking myself, “What kind of father do I want to be?”

Sometimes, Stormtroopers just want to help. Baby Cheang at one week. – MICHAEL CHEANG

Sometimes, Stormtroopers just want to help. Baby Cheang at one week.

One year later, I’m still asking myself that same question. The past year was like a blur of dirty diapers, late night feedings, and constant worrying over the slightest fevers and flues, though truthfully, my role as a dad was easy compared to what my wife went through. Besides breastfeeding and taking care of Baby Cheang at night, she also had to go to work in the day.

Yeah, I don’t know how she does it. One month, I had to take care of Baby Cheang on my own for a few weekends straight, and after all the struggles to get my baby to stop crying and sleep/drink her milk, I had renewed respect for what my wife does, and loved her even more for it. I also volunteered to do all the housework and cook the meals so that I didn’t have to deal with the baby as much (sorry, dear!).

Anyway, the first month was especially chaotic. Everything was new to me – I didn’t know how to hold my baby, how to put her to sleep (still don’t actually), and was pretty much a headless chicken when it came to trying to get her to stop crying.

As the months flew by, it became easier, but new challenges started coming in. Like when she started turning over in the fifth month, we had to install guardrails on the bed to make sure she didn’t roll off the bed. When she started eating solids, we started worrying over every little choke and cough, and whether the food we were cooking for her was suitable for babies. Oh, and don’t get me started on when she started crawling, and started putting everything she saw into her mouth.

The writer with his daughter, taken at her first birthday party past week. – MICHAEL CHEANG

The writer with his daughter, taken at her first birthday party past week.

Don’t get me wrong though, despite all the stress and anxiety, this past year has been one of the best years of my life. Every month has brought new developments and milestones, and watching her grow up from a tiny little thing to an active one year old has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

This Sunday, I will be celebrating Father’s Day for the second time as a father, but it will be the first one where I will be truly aware of what being a father is like. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. I don’t know what to expect in the years to come, but I do know one thing is for sure – I’ll never stop taking pictures of her with Stormy. Even if these days, he does seem a little short for a Stormtrooper.