We as Dads have to savour the moments. My friend and devoted father, Greg McInerney, describes these moments; for example, your 8 year old daughter “at the end of the game when she sneaks in a hug, all your dad DNA does a happy dance too”. I call these moments “Dad’s Joys”. Greg calls them “Dads DNA happy dance moments”. Call them what you like, we need them as Dads; but our children need them even more!
So what triggers these moments? In one word ‘giving’. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to Give than to receive.” If you don’t want to receive it from Jesus, listen to Einstein, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” If you will not receive it from Albert Einstein take it from Gandhi. In reference to giving Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” From a Dad’s point of view Francis of Assisi summed it up best, “For it is in giving that we receive.”
Many years ago when my youngest daughter was twelve going on eighteen, I asked her to come to a Good to Great Dads & Kids Fun Camp at a remote wilderness area called the Wollondilly River Campground. To a very social, almost teenager, the thought of doing without a mobile phone for the weekend, the company of bull ants and using bush toilets was an anathema so I knew I had to use my ‘Dad Smarts’. Suddenly I had a brainwave, “What about you ask your best friend from school?” The deal was sealed and in spite of the bull ants and bush toilets she had a lot of fun. So did her friend. I might add that I went out of my way to make sure that they both did!
The next day I got a text message from her which I kept on my mobile phone until aliens robbed the phone from me to put it into their ‘ancient earthling technology museum’. The text message simply said, “Had a great weekend – You are the best Dad in the world.” My DAD JOY barometer went through the roof for at least a week and my Dad DNA had lots of happy dance moments. Ah, the delight of those joyous Dad moments.
I will let my good friend Greg McInerney share his story. He writes every second week for the Single Dads section of the Dads4Kids newsletter and this story is definitely worth the replay.
Soccer played by eight year old girls is enormously entertaining to watch. The entertainment is fuller when I view the game as an umpire and, best of all, as dad of a player. I suppose it doesn’t matter what the sport is, looking on with pride and delight is a grand thrill.
My daughter isn’t in my care after school on the Thursday that the games are played. Most often she is collected from school by mum and I have moments in those afternoons that I wistfully wonder what she is up to. When the sporting seasons come around, it creates an opening to cheer Miss 8 from the sidelines or to run up and down with the flow of play adjudicating the game.
I hope that your dad status draws you to your children’s games. When the daughter or son you don’t otherwise see clears the ball to the other end of the ground or they converge on the ball at the same time as five other players, I hope that your heart ticks over a little faster, just as mine did. I want to know that when you get an extra sighting of your child making chatter to a player on the other team that your heart smiles. Mine did. And, at the end of the game when she sneaks in a hug, all your dad DNA does a happy dance too. You get that too if you are a single dad who gives to your child just by turning up. Know that your beaming dad face on the sidelines calls out “I CARE” to your child.
Earlier in the day, I had to pop into Miss 8’s school and overheard my daughter’s name be called. “Your dad’s here!” was the excited cry to my daughter. All at once she was surprised and quizzical and happy to see me. We shared a fleeting stroll into the morning tea quadrangle that we mixed with an explanation for my visit and a hurried hug, before I split out to be at work. Although it was barely three minutes, it may well have been three hours for the feeling of having my dad heart topped up.
I don’t get to do school drop off and collect as much as I would like. Yet, I was pleased to be recognised by my daughter’s friends, enough to affirm that I must be a presence to them as Miss 8’s dad. I didn’t visit the school to see my daughter, yet having unexpectedly shared a chance encounter sent a gratifying happiness into the core of my being her dad.
My mum and dad visited my football games. They cheered me on and talked me up after the game, when my own sense was that I played like I should have stayed home with a jigsaw puzzle. Even now at being old (according to my children), I can still trigger the sensation of being mum and dad’s sporting hero by winding back my memory to primary school Saturday morning football. Fast forward thirty-odd years and I like to muse that I will be cheering on some grandchildren. I like to think that my adult daughters and I will be gifting our child and grandchild with the legacy of feeling like a star, with a fervent knowledge that they are cared for.
Just make your children feel cared for by giving what no one else can give them: some glorious ‘Dad Time’. You might have to negotiate. You might have to use some of your very precious ‘Dad Smarts’. Whatever it takes, start going out of your way to give your time and attention to your children. As the wise man said, “Ït is in giving that we receive.”
Yours for more Dad Joys