So we’re different – okay, we get it. Maybe we’re more into baby tossing than we are baby wearing. But seriously…which is more fun? There’s a good chance that pile of dirty diapers laying by the trash can in the kitchen were the shots we missed “from downtown”. You take spin classes, we spin the kids around and around. Same difference right? And maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance we were halfway home from the store when a little head peered over the driver side headrest and whispered, “Hey Daddy, I’m unbuckled”. That last one was purely in theory though. Right? Wrong. Sometimes we just drop the ball – on our kid’s toe. But I’d like to offer a case for letting dads be dads.
We know we’re a mess with our own methods, but we love our kids; even if some of our uncanny antics put them in “danger”… or even regular danger minus the ” “.
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Think back to when you were a girl. Now think of your dad, grandpa or uncle – a male presence in your life that you hold dear even to this day. Why did you love that man? What was it about him that brought you joy then and sends your heart soaring now? He cared enough about you to interact on your level while also pushing you to new heights of adventure. Whether he dressed up and played tea with you or took you camping, he was a man on a mission for fun-filled experiences and he wanted you along for the ride. And not only do you love him for it, you’re more than likely better for it as well.
DADS LOVE DOING CHILDISH THINGS
I’ll never forget the time my dad bought me my first gun. I was 6. I know right? It was a daisy lever action single shot BB gun. No scope, just a basic BB gun. I was THRILLED of course, while my mother proceeded to verbally predict the gruesome scene of my own demise at the hand the vicious gun. As if gifting his 6 year old son a BB gun wasn’t enough, he showed me how to load it…in front of my mom. May seem like not a big deal. Loading the gun? No big deal. Who cares? Just wait.
Dad turned to me and said, “Here’s how I used to load my BB gun as a boy.” He grabbed the box of bee bees (shaped like a small paper chocolate milk container from the school cafeteria) opened one side and then literally poured a few hundred… get this… into his mouth! He then placed his lips to the loading slot on the barrel of the gun and began spitting the bee bees into the gun with great force. I still remember my mother’s reaction: “Doug Foster! Do NOT teach your son things like that! Caleb, you better not load that gun like your Daddy just did!” Just when I thought Mom had exhausted all the horrifically creative ways I may die from the bee bee gun, she then added choking to the list. Go figure. Good thing my mom didn’t pass out from shock and need mouth to mouth from Dad. That could have gone downhill fast!
If you’re a good guesser you might already know that I ignored my mother’s safety request and later that day filled my mouth with bee bees and our mailbox with tiny dents. Good times.
DON’T MISUNDERSTAND ME
Looking back, I can see how what my Dad taught me was in no way safe or orthodox. I honestly would not teach my child to load his bee bee gun that way, at least not at 6. But who’s to say I wouldn’t get them the gun? The point is dads are different. Clearly. We love to push the envelope and cause little hearts to pump fast. We’re rough around the edges and don’t consider scraped knees when we invite our little girl or boy to climb a tree with us.
We’re teaching them that life needs adventure. And while we know adventure often comes with pain or at the very least fear of the unknown, we consider their training in adventure a rite of passage into the real world of adventure, pain and heartache. If we don’t teach our kiddos how to rise above risk they will cower in fear all their lives, and probably have beautiful knee caps. We consider the cost of a few knees, cuts, bruises and even the occasional fracture to be cheap in comparison to the massive personal cost of navigating the adventures of adulthood with no experience in creativity, risk or adventure.
So the next time we toss her a bit too high for your comfort or pull an unorthodox stunt with gun, tree, fence, fireplace, couch or the like… just remember, your children need to know that risk often rewards those who know how navigate it well. Rather than tweaking our parenting style, try embracing the adventure with us. In letting dads be dads, you may just feel that little girl heart of yours start to soar again.
The Man Foster on behalf of dads everywhere