After a few weeks of hiatus, including time invested in my artistic pursuits (audition, rehearsal and performance), I'm back to my plan to offer a few more modest nuggets related to fatherhood. This one is fairly short and sweet.
Two points only on this topic. First, make active involvement in your kid's life one of your top priorities. Second, give it your best shot, even if you don't feel confident.
By active involvement, I mean taking your son or daughter to the playground regularly; playing with them on the living-room floor; colouring pictures with them; watching a bug crawl across the lawn; floating pine-cones in the little streams running down the gutters and lanes from the melting snow. As they get older, this might include coaching their soccer or hockey team, attending their school concerts, dance or piano recitals and school band performances.
I have spent many hours standing in the cold/wind/blistering heat watching my kids playing soccer, or getting a numb butt sitting in the bleachers at a gymnastics competition or sweating my ass off on the plastic chairs in a school gym, waiting for my kid's junior high band to play. It's all part of the subtle rewards of fatherhood. And it isn't always easy to do. My only advice for those times when you have the option to go or not to go - make the choice to go. It pays dividends in the quality of your relationship with your children, sometimes not visible until years later.
Kids have long memories and astute powers of observation. Their bullshit detectors are acute and they will almost certainly see through any lame excuses you make for not going. And there are few things worse than deadbeat dads who promise to show up and don't make it. I'm pretty sure that's worse than being honest about not being able to go. I defer in this matter to those who have learned this lesson the hard way. I went to almost all of my kids' performances and spent many long hours at soccer games - and have no regrets. But you sure have to put some of your own desires on the back-burner while your kids are growing up.
Bottom line - you may not always enjoy what you're doing at the time, but your kid will remember if you went willingly or reluctantly. As in all aspects of being the dad you want to be, you are modeling what your child will learn about dads.
For me, most of the time it was fun, often because of the little rewards of appreciation from my sons. If you're going to bring a child into the world, you might as well enjoy those parts of the responsibility that come from seeing your child having fun, practising a skill, or mastering a challenge. It's all worth it in the end.
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1 year ago