Dads everywhere have long received a bum rap when it comes to their parenting abilities. If past movies or TV shows are any indication, a dad usually falls into one of two categories: a flustered and clueless idiot, not even capable of changing a diaper without tongs, duct tape, and a gas mask or a cold and distant larger-than-life man who works all day, only to come home and hide behind the newspaper with a pack of smokes.
Of course, these are myths, at least most of the time. Dads are worthy of our highest praise and respect (and some harmless teasing, if the situation calls for it). My kids’ dad was once honored to be named “World’s Greatest Dad”. A coffee mug can’t be wrong. He didn’t get this title for nothing.
WHY MY KIDS LOVE THEIR DAD:
He has no sense of danger
When my son was five years old and could barely reach the height limit to ride the Log Flume ride at Funtown by himself (even on his tip toes), my husband thought it was a bright idea to send my sweet dimpled boy (and his imaginary friend, Steve) on the log-shaped Death Trap anyway, conveniently when my back was turned. For the next three and a half terrifying minutes, I watched my son gripping the handrails, grinning from ear to ear, yelling at Steve to “hold on!” As he slowly ascended Mt.Everest, I closed my eyes and prayed that he wouldn’t spontaneously jump out at the top. My son and Steve safely made it down after all, completely drenched and laughing. I shot my husband The Look, ran over and crushed my son with hugs, thinking, Thank God he’s okay! I walked away with a few new wrinkles and, I admit, a pretty cool picture to put on our fridge. And, to my son, Daddy was the hero of the day.
He feeds them crap
On the rare mornings that I get to sleep in, I’ve shuffled out to the kitchen only to find one of my kids halfway through a BBQ potato chip bag or a box of cookies. Their dad usually pretends he didn’t notice they’d somehow dragged heavy chairs across the floor to raid the pantry. Or he’ll shrug and say, “So what? It’s just cookies. It’s not gonna hurt ‘em.” I have my suspicions he’s been taking cues from Bill Cosby’s old 80s stand-up routine: “Dad is great! He gives us chocolate cake!”
He forgets to dress them
Whenever my husband is alone with the kids for any length of time, my kids inevitably end up wearing things out at Wal-Mart I wouldn’t dress my dog in (if I had a dog and even then, I’d still spare the poor dog any embarrassment of wearing a hot pink tutu over winter boots, a tiara, no shirt and a tie). Or he’ll somehow forget vital articles of clothing entirely, such as socks, mittens, a hat and a jacket when it’s minus twenty with the wind chill. “What?” Dad will shrug. “They’re only outside for all of two minutes from the car to the store. The cold isn’t gonna hurt ‘em.” Once again, Daddy = Hero.
He is their favorite toy
My kids have every electronic gadget, loads of Legos, Hot Wheels and Barbies. But nothing tops playing “tickle monster” with Dad. Every night it’s like the WWF match-up between Andre the Giant and the Little People. If it involves my husband being attacked by two giggling hyenas, rolling around the living room floor, my kids are in heaven. Sure, Dad may have to pause here and there for a breath or defibrillator, but he presses on with the head-locks and accidental kicks to the groin because he knows they love it. Dad is The Man.
My husband’s arms were the very first to cradle both of my kids after they drew their first breaths. Those same arms and hands rocked them during those endless, colicky nights, changed their diapers, rubbed their backs when they were sick, hugged them close when they had nightmares. He blows my son kisses at the bus stop every morning and swings my daughter up into the air when he gets home from work, covering her in giggly kisses. He is full of love and affection for them and I see their light shine when he is around.
He respects who they are and believes in them
The one thing my kids know for sure is that their dad will be there for them, guiding and supporting them in any way he can. He listens to my son when he cries that a kid teased him at school or when he’s frustrated with a basketball game loss or when he asks, “Why did God make the world?” Sometimes Dad knows the answers and will give some advice. Sometimes Dad will ask them for advice. This, to me, is the most important duty of any parent/caregiver/teacher in a child’s life: to really listen and to encourage a child to discover their true shining inner self and soul. This foundation of acceptance and security will help support them the rest of their lives and shape the person they will become in immeasurable ways. For this, their Daddy is my hero.
This upcoming Sunday, I will celebrate the amazing father my husband has become over these nine years. And I will honor all of the other dads out there doing their best every day to show their kids how much they love them. Even if that means Oreos for breakfast.
Happy Father’s Day.