Tag Archives: dad

I’m not babysitting, I’m her Dad.

20140203-095440.jpgMy wife has a part-time job, and my hours are very flexible.  This means I spend a lot of time with my two daughters during daytime hours.  We go to restaurants, grocery stores, nursing homes, and the office.

Both of my daughters are adorable and engaging.  They smile and wave at people.  They tell people things like, “Your shirt is pretty.”  This means that I have many conversations with strangers that I otherwise would not have.

Usually this is quite fun.  I like meeting new people, and I love how my girls brighten people’s day.  There is one conversation though, that gets on my nerves.  On a fairly regular basis, someone will ask me something like, “Are you babysitting today?”

Once I actually said, “No.  I’m her Dad.”  The woman looked at me a little puzzled, as if I didn’t understand her question.

What I wanted to say was:

No. I’m not a babysitter.  A babysitter is someone who occasionally watches a child, often for money.  A babysitter has temporary hours, and goes home.  I am her Daddy.  I cut her umbilical cord and handed her to her mother.  I never breast fed her, but I spent many long nights holding and feeding her.  There were a few months when there was no one on earth that could put her to sleep faster than me.  I changed diapers, wiped butts, and cleaned up puke.  I was at the helm of The Great Poopy Disaster of 2011.  The last time she had a stomach virus, the only place she wanted to sit was my lap.  I had to change shirts twice.  I once got a little bit of her poop in my mouth.

“I made up a song about how strong and smart she is, and sing it to her at night after carrying her to bed. Every morning before she gets out of bed to start school, I hold her.  I hold her and I pray for her and I kiss her sleepy head.  I know that in my arms she is safe, and I contemplate just staying there safe and warm forever.  Every morning we eventually get up, I cook her breakfast, pack her lunch, and kiss her goodbye when her ride gets here.  I send her into the world and pray to God that I sent her with enough love to get her through the day.

“I can make a pretty tight pony tail, paint a pretty neat fingernail, and I’ve taught her how to catch and throw a softball.  She’s my doctor, my hairstylist, and my makeup artist.  Sometimes she picks out my tie.

“We built a Lego Jabba’s Palace, and we’re working on the Rancor Pit.  I’m currently leading the best-of-101 game Stanley Cup air hockey series 23-17.  I took her to her first hockey game, her first Major League baseball game, her first ballet, and we have already set a date for December 18, 2015.

“The last snow day we had together, we turned on the TV a total of zero times.  I help her with homework, and taught her M&M math.  She told me when a boy hurt her feelings at school, and when her best friend was mean to her.  She has wiped many tears on my shirt.  My kisses work to heal boo-boos.

I’ve messed up plenty.  I’ve been the cause of more of those tears than I wish to admit. I get too angry over little things.  I get frustrated because she just won’t listen.  I wonder why she doesn’t seem to understand the phrase, “you need to hurry up.”  Sometimes I’m too busy, or too tired, or too selfish.   I’m not a perfect Dad, but by the grace of God I’m trying to be.  She teaches me everyday about the power of grace and forgiveness.  Being their Dad is the greatest, and most important thing I’ll ever do.

“So no, I’m not babysitting.  I’m her Dad.”

But usually I just say, “Yeah, Mom is working.  Aren’t I lucky?”

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Growing, Grown, Gone

This is a poem that my Dad used to read every team party.  A more personalized version hangs on the walls in my sister’s, brother’s, and my rooms.  I haven’t read the original in years.  I do not know the author.  Spme have suggested that it was Erma Bombeck, who was an author writing about parenthood in the era my Dad would have found the poem, but I’ve never found this particular piece attributed to any one. Today a nephew turns 15.  Tomorrow my oldest turns six.  I try to savor every moment.

ImageOne of these days you’ll shout: “Why don’t you kids grow up and act your age!”
And they will.

Or: “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do . . . and don’t slam the door!”
And they won’t.

You’ll straighten up the boys’ bedroom neat and tidy . . . bumper stickers discarded . . . spread tucked in and smooth . . . toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closets. Animals caged. And you’ll say out loud: “Now I want it to stay this way.”
And it will.

You’ll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing and you’ll say: “Now there’s a meal for company.”
And you’ll eat it alone.

You’ll say: “I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No pantomimes. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?”
And you’ll have it.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti.
No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms.
No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps.
No more clothespins under the sofa.
No more playpens to arrange a room around.
No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent.
No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathrooms.
No more iron-on patches; wet knotted shoestrings; tight boots, or rubber bands for ponytails.
Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby-sitter for New Year’s Eve. Washing only once a week.
Seeing a steak that isn’t ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.
No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o’clock at night.
Having your own roll of tape.

Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste.
No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark.
No knees to heal, no responsibility.

Only a voice crying, “Why don’t you grow up,” and the silence echoing,

“I did.”

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Derek Redmond’s Dad

You probably don’t recognize the name Derek Redmond.  You might recognize his story though.  He was a sprinter in 1992 Barcolona Olympics.  He was the British record holder and a contender to do well in the 400m.  He had an injury-plagued career, but as he prepared for the most important 45 seconds of his life, the announcer claimed that he was in the “best form he’d shown.”   About 15 seconds into the race, he tore his hamstring.  He crumpled to the ground in pain.  If that was the end of his race, no one would remember Derek Redmond, but as a trainer started to attend to him, Redmond got up and started limping around the track.  He was determined to finish what he had begun.  He was determined to finish the lap.

As he limped around the track, fans started to cheer.  Several attendants approached him, but he waved them off.  He was alone on the track.  A wide shot of him in the video below reveals a strange scene – one man hobbling and barely able to stand, not the usual group of amazing athletes speeding along the curve.  As he comes around the turn, the crowd is cheering him on.  They understand what he is trying to do.  They admire him for it.  But then something else happens.  Something extraordinary.  Something that until recently, I don’ t think I really understood.  Watch below.

A man comes out on the track.  We don’t see what he had to do to get on the track.  We do see him push past one person that tries to stop him.  He puts his arm around the wounded athlete, and the recognition on Derek Redmond’s face helps us understand.  This is his father.

This is his father who he drapes his arm around.  Suddenly, the emotions of the moment catch up to the pain and Derek Redmond buries his face in his father’s chest.  His father is now literally holding him up as another attendant comes.  This time the guy is more adamant, but there is nothing that is going to take the boy from his father.  You can almost read his lips, as he waves the man away, “Get the hell out of here!”  is what I think he says.

The two finish the race together while the stadium rose to its feet in appreciation for what they had witnessed.  Afterward, the father says, “Whatever happened, he had to finish.  And I was there to help him finish.  I intended to go over the line with him. We started his career together.  I think we should finish it together.”

Derek Redmond is now a motivational speaker.  On his website, he gives an interview where he describes his father as “My motivator, my hero, my pal, my bodyguard, my physio and my masseur some days.”  I have seen this video of him and his Dad before, but the other day I watched again – perhaps for the first time as a father myself.  I started thinking about Derek Redmond’s Dad.

My girls are too young to participate in competitive sports, but I’ve already began to dream about what their future holds.  I think about their lives as dancers, athletes, students, friends.  I think about the relationships they’ll make, the people they’ll know, the places they’ll go, and the accomplishments that await them.  Is the Olympics in their future?  Who knows?

As a father I can dream with them.  I can dream for them.  I can imagine myself watching my daughter in the biggest moment of her life.  I can already be nervous, waiting for her chance to shine.  I do not know what her dreams will be, but I can imagine being at the cusp of them, ready to emerge victorious.

What would it be like to be watching your son or your daughter run in the most important 45 seconds of their life, and then come up injured.  How much would it hurt to see her body lying on the ground, broken; her race over; her career over; her dream over?  How much would it hurt to think of the hours of practice, the trips to the gym, the diets, the training, the injuries, the coaching, the sacrifices that had all come to this point, and end with her crumpled on the ground waiting for the stretcher to carry her off the track so they could keep the schedule of the rest of the event?

Then, what would it feel like to see her get up?  I remember the first time she fell off of her bike, and I remember with pride the moment she got back on her bike and kept going.

As I watch this video of Derek Redmond hobbling around the track I can see my daughters, struggling to finish something that they set out to achieve.  When I dream their future, I don’t dream of them victorious.  I dream of them courageous.  I don’t dream of them with accolades and fame and money.  I dream of them with conviction and perseverance and strength.

And when I see Derek Redmond collapse into the loving arms of his father, I dream that someday I will be able to be there for my daughters.  I hope beyond hope that when they face a obstacle in their life that feels bigger than they can handle, that I will be able to be there for them.  I hope this in part because I know what it feels like to collapse into the loving arms of my Dad.

The fact remains, I might not always be there for them.  So I live every day teaching, praying, reading, dancing, laughing, and crying with them so that they know, and that they will always know that their Daddy loves them.  More importantly, I do these things so that they know, and that they will ALWAYS know that our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loves them. Amen.

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