Hey, She’s Still Paying Attention

I really thought that as of 2 or 3 years ago, the Older Daughter no longer cared about my opinion nor was at all influenced by me. It really seemed that she was in her own teen world and had it all figured out–at least in her opinion. Well, I found out this week that I actually do still have some influence.

Her high school held a mock election on Tuesday. I asked her who she voted for and she told me. When I asked how she came to the decision, she said that she really didn’t know who to vote for. But she knew who I was voting for, so that’s who she chose. Now of course that’s not the right way to pick a president, but it made me smile that she thought enough of my judgement to make the same choice.

Then last night we were at Wal-Mart picking up a few things. Homemade dinner was not in the cards, so we we picked up some stuff at the deli. The Older Daughter and I both chose the turkey sandwich and threw them in the basket. Then I noticed her checking the shelf again. Pretty soon, she grabbed this huge turkey sandwich and put the smaller ones back. It seems that she noticed that the huge sandwich was roughly equivalent to 3 of the smaller sandwiches but was cheaper than the 2 we were going to buy. When I complimented her for noticing, she said “I learned it from you.” More smiling on my part.

Just when you think you have lost them, they go and show you they are still watching and learning from you after all.

Gone Fishin’

As a kid, I loved going fishing with my dad. However, it was about 25 years ago, as a teenager, that I grew bored with fishing and stopped going with my him. My guess is that it probably broke his heart to lose that special time.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when we were discussing our upcoming camping trip with the Younger Daughter. She informed us that she would like to learn how to fish. I have actually been wanting to take the girls fishing for a number of years, but things just never fell into place. I decided that this time, nothing was going to stand in the way of making it happen.

Last weekend, we went down to the local sporting goods store. I was a deer in the headlights looking at the overwhelming variety of gear available. Thankfully, a friendly and helpful lady helped us to pick out the appropriate pole, hooks, sinkers, bobbers, and bait that we would need to catch some tasty trout. Just a smidge over $100 later, we were out of there.

Now it seems that she was simply too excited to wait a week for the camping trip to commence and wanted to give it a whirl yesterday evening. Not wanting to disappoint, I relented. Given my typical bad luck, I was sure that I would fall in the water, end up hopelessly tangled up in fishing line, have fishing hooks stuck in my face, and get arrested for catching some obscure fish that is on the endangered species list.

Thankfully, things were not even close to being that bad. Yes, some things went wrong. We did have some minor tangling of line here and there. Oh, and I managed to drop the pliars through the slats of the dock…never to be seen again. But it was an amazingly relaxing and peaceful time together. It was quiet except for the birds and the sounds of fish jumping.

So, after 25 years, I again have the patience to enjoy sitting in a chair, lazily waiting for a fish to bite. Whether one actually bites or not doesn’t really matter. It’s amazing sitting with my daugher and enjoying some very special together time in a peacful setting. I realize that in all likelyhood, she’ll one day find this to be boring and move on. But I’m going to enjoy every moment until then.

Warming Parental Flashback

The Older Daughter was washing her comforter this evening, but it didn’t get dry before bedtime. She headed to bed, but asked me bring it in after it was dry, throw it over her, and tuck her in. I smiled. I was more than happy to oblige. This is something that I haven’t had the privilege of doing for a lot of years.

If you have followed me for awhile, you know that I sometimes miss having younger kids and some of the mundane rituals that went along with it. Just a few minutes ago, I took the nice, warm comforter out of the dryer, put it gently over her, and tucked it in around her. Then I gave her a kiss on the forehead and whispered “I love you” into her ear. It was priceless and made my day.

Dad: Now the Preferred Search Engine?

I received a call from the Older Daughter today, but was at work and could not take the call immediately. When I called her back, she answered with “Nevermind, I found what I needed on Google.”

You may remember in a previous post that I was lamenting being reduced to a taxi driver and banker. But now, I guess I’m a search engine also. Initially I was bothered that she didn’t want to take the time to go search on the computer. But maybe I should be flattered to be her search engine of choice–at least in this one instance.  🙂

Cool Dad?

Thanks to John for this one. These things are always of questionable accuracy, but this one seems to have hit the nail on the head for me. I’m not really interested in being “cool”. I’m interested in being a good father. Don’t get me wrong, I’m goofy and have lots of fun with the kids. But in the end, you do need to have reasonable rules and structure.

You Will Not Be a Cool Parent

And that’s pretty okay. While your kids may not think of you as a friend, they will respect you.You know that kids need discipline and structure, and you’re not afraid to give it to them.Just be careful that your strictness doesn’t lead to rebellion.

It’s good to have standards and rules, but you don’t need to have an iron fist when enforcing them.

Washing The Dog

Okay, so the Younger Daughter was washing the dog last night in the bathtub. In the middle of the bath, she came out carrying the dog and heading for the kitchen. When I asked what she was doing, she informed me that the hot water had run out in the bathroom, so she was moving to the kitchen sink. Should I be worried about the lack of common sense? Then again, maybe you don’t know until you think it through that each faucet does not have its own hot water supply.

Reduced To A Taxi Driver And A Banker

A father can serve many roles with his children throughout the years:

  • Janitor when she makes a mess
  • Teacher when helping her with homework
  • Chef when preparing a lunch or dinner
  • Doctor/nurse when she is sick
  • Inventor when helping her dream up a play-time scenario
  • Architect/Builder to make that scenario happen
  • Mechanic when fixing that broken toy
  • Counselor when she needs guidance on a problem

    As the years wear on, she is often less and less interested in these roles. However, there are two roles that remain for me: Taxi Driver and Banker. Sometimes I feel like I spend my life in the car shuttling the kids all over creation. And of course, there’s nothing more expensive than raising kids. I will see the Taxi Driver role start to fade as the Older Daughter starts driving next year. It’s bittersweet. I want her to grow up and be independent, but dads like being useful.

    Because I Said So

    Thanks to Nectarfizz for sharing this clip. She’s got some funny stuff–check her out.

    Most of my posts are from a dad’s point of view. But let’s take a moment to honor moms. In my household (and many others), if it weren’t for The Wife, things just wouldn’t get done. Seriously, if I wasn’t married, I would probably sign up for a grocery delivery service, move the fridge to the living room, and have the couch surgically attached to my butt. That’s how lazy I would be.

    In this video clip (Mom’s Overture by Anita Renfro), she has taken all of the things a mom says to the kids in a day and condensed them down into just under 3 minutes. She sings them to the tune of the William Tell Overture. Enjoy…

    I’m The Dumbest Person On The Planet

    I think my last brain cell just died…at least in the eyes of the Older Daughter.

    A few weeks ago, The Older Daughter wanted to go to a movie with some friends on a Saturday night. They had some time constraints, so she needed to know the times the movie would be shown. I located the newspaper and found the movie listings. I showed her the listings and had this conversation:

    Me: “Hey, I found the show times for that movie. It looks like it’s not showing at the time you wanted to go.”

    Older Daughter: “Well those are not all the show times.”

    Me: “Yes these are all the times. The want to sell movie tickets, so they list all of the show times.”

    Older Daughter: “You don’t know that.”

    I’ve been around for 39 years and thought I knew how to navigate a movie listing in the newspaper, but I guess not. I’m the dumbest dummy around.

    Childhood “Lasts”

    It is an absolute joy to watch a child grow up (perhaps less so as they hit the teen years, but that’s a different story). Starting from birth, children are learning, exploring, developing, and growing at a rapid rate. We mark this development as we observe various “firsts”: first solid food, first time crawling, first steps, first words, etc. As the years go by, the pace of milestones dramatically decreases, and in the teen years the “firsts” become oriented toward becoming an adult: first crush, first date, first kiss, first time driving, first job, etc.

    What we as parents often miss, however, are the “lasts” that occur at the same pace (rapid in the early years–slowing throughout the years). These milestones are every bit as important. However, as lasts, they are more difficult for us to recognize as they occur. We may not realize until years later–oh yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore. As I thought through some of these, it actually brought tears to my eyes. Had I known it was going to be the last time, I would have taken the time to cherish it that much more. So below is my list some “lasts”. If you’ve never thought about this before, you may want to grab a Kleenex. It breaks your heart a little bit when you remember all the little rituals of childhood that have passed.

    As a baby, there was the last time…

    • She woke you up crying in the middle of the night
    • You changed a diaper
    • She nursed
    • She drank from a bottle
    • She needed binkie to fall asleep
    • You dressed her
    • You fed her
    • You rocked her to sleep
    • You woke up to her sweet cooing in the morning
    • You gave her a bath
    • She slept in a crib

    Next, during the toddler years, there was the last time… 

    • She fell asleep watching Barney
    • She rode in a stroller
    • You buckled her into a car seat
    • She sucked her thumb
    • She pulled the pots and pans out to bang them together
    • She wrapped her hand around your finger while walking with you
    • You kissed an owwie to make it better
    • She got chocolate smeared all over her face
    • She pulled on the cat’s tail
    • You tucked her in
    • She woke you up way too early on a Saturday morning
    • She slept for the entire trip
    • She rode a bike with training wheels
    • She needed help tying her shoes
    • You picked her up to help her get a drink at the water fountain
    • You took her to restroom with you
    • She cried when her balloon floated away

    Then in elementary school, there was the last time…

    • She woke up on Christmas morning excited that Santa had been there
    •  She left a tooth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy
    • She hunted for Easter eggs
    • She colored a picture for you to hang up at work
    • She played in the Playland at McDonalds
    • She sang the ABC song
    • You held her hand while crossing the street
    • You hoisted her up to put the angel on the Christmas tree
    • You pushed her on the swing
    • She asked you to come have lunch with her at school
    • She sat on Santa’s lap
    • You went to Toys-R-Us so she could explore and dream about what she wanted for Christmas
    • She curled up in your lap to read a book
    • She played on the floor with her toys
    • You carried her your shoulders
    • She rode on the kiddie rides at the carnival
    • She ordered from the kid’s menu

    Finally, during the teen years, there was the last time…

    • She went trick-or-treating
    • She needed your help with homework on a daily basis

    Still upcoming for me is the last time…

    • I drove her to school
    • She received an allowance
    • She slept in the house as a member of the household

    (I couldn’t come up with a lot for the teens years. I think this is probably because The Older Daughter is 14 and the “losses” haven’t hit me yet.)

    I have tried to do a good job throughout the years of staying involved and doing lots with the kids. Still, there are regrets sometimes. Occasionally, I’ll think of something that I always wanted to do with them, but now it’s too late because they’re too old. We have lots of pictures and videos, but sometimes I look back and wish we had taken more. I also wish that I had kept a journal. I would give anything to know some of my thoughts during their early years or to have a record of a conversation we had over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch between Barney movies.

    But enough of the regrets. It’s never too late to do a better job. Part of the reason I started this blog was to help record some of my thoughts over time. I also hope that this post can in some way inspire newer parents also. To those new parents: Just remember, while time may seem to be going by slowly now, you’ll look back 15 years from now and wonder where it all went. Cherish and make the most of every moment. Take pictures, take videos, and keep a journal. Most importantly, just take time to be a family. The housework can wait, but your kids will only be kids for a very short time. Make the most of it.