Dad is Great – Happy Father’s Day

Father, Dad, Daddy-O, Big Daddy, Padre, Pappy, Poppa, Big Poppa, Poppa Bear, Pops, Old Man – however you call him, it’s time to celebrate fathers. Father’s Day is here again.

The history of Dad-kind can be tough. How many of us grew up with the cliché “wait until your father gets home?” The image of Dad “the Enforcer” has tempered but it still lingers a bit. And there is the image of Dad the “bread winner” as well. Of course, this dynamic changes for a stay-at-home-Dad because we are always home and probably cleaning up bread, not winning it.

Obviously our house lives these differences because we wait for Wife, “Mom”, to get home. And Sweetie is too young to cause any major trouble yet so I am not throwing silly threats at her. So really, we can’t wait for Wife to get home. Last Thursday she came home with fresh Cheese Danish and Sweet breads from a local Polish bakery. Mom is not only winning bread, but sweets! As Sweetie and I shared a treat, it reminded me of my most favorite pro-Dad story.

I first saw the stand-up routine Bill Cosby Himself when I was a child. My family and I were able to enjoy the comedy together as it is loaded with adult humor with kid-friendly language. I have watched this stand-up routine as an adult and still laughed out loud. In one skit, Bill Cosby describes how he feeds his children chocolate cake for breakfast. As he describes, chocolate cake contains milk, eggs and wheat – also parts of a nutritious breakfast. To express their joy, his children begin singing praise to him in a simple but effective tune: “Dad is great, he gives us chocolate cake”. Writing it out does not do it justice, so enjoy the man himself:

And that’s the point of the day, right? It’s a day to sing our praises for our committed Father’s. So whether you stay at home or you get to come home; whether you are the enforcer or the bringer of sweets – Dads are great. To all you out there, from all of us on the detour – Happy Father’s Day!

Early Father’s Day Gift

I know what you are thinking…Father’s Day is Sunday, why does he get early gifts? Sometimes we earn special treatment, sometimes it’s something inside that moves our children, sometimes our children have movements. Again you ask, “How is he so lucky?” Heh, Heh…

So Wife, Sweetie and I spent Friday evening running errands and caught a barbeque dinner out. Good times. Once we got home, Wife set about getting Sweetie ready for her bath. Of course this requires stripping the little one down, and recently we have added some naked scurrying. Sweetie thinks it is hilarious to try to outrun Wife on the way to the bathroom. More good times.

This night things took a different turn when Sweetie scooted in to her closet. From the bathroom where I fill the bath I could not see everything that happened, but all of a sudden Wife was shrieking, came running into the bathroom to promptly placed Sweetie on her training toilet. She turned to me with a wry smile and calmly said, “your daughter just pooped in her closet.”

Hmm. Okay. I got the message loud and clear, so I thought. I thought Wife had caught Sweetie when she was just getting started and scooped her up. So I wandered in to the closet expecting a small mess. Well, the full story is that wife saw Sweetie crawl in to her closet. A few seconds later Wife noticed that it was strangely quiet. When she peeked in, Wife found Sweetire reclining on her side, calmly taking care of business. A small mess? Yeah, no. A full steamy pile. Happy Father’s Day.

So your humble narrator, your flagman on the detour, your de-tour-guide, me – I went about cleaning it up. I still wonder how such a small, sweet little girl can generate such a large, foul reminder of her presence. It’s one of those times where all we could do is laugh and clean it up. We were thankful she is (obviously) healthy. We were thankful we have hardwood floors that clean up without staining. So Wife and I got her cleaned up and gave her a bath and got her ready for bed. And we kissed her good night and told her we love her, even when she poops in the closet.

Meet ups and First Friends

Chicago spring is in full effect and charging right in to summer – now is the time to get out and enjoy the local parks. At the end of last summer and through fall, Sweetie and I took many walks around the park nearest to our house. So far this spring we had also stopped in at the organic greenhouse to check that out. But we had not explored the playground areas, not tried out the swings. I decided it was time to step up our park trips to the next level. No more solitary walks, it was time for park meet-ups. Meet-ups meant that Sweetie would have a chance to play in a new environment and I would have a chance for conversation.

Role call for the main family that we “meet up” with is Big Daddy B, Momma Z and their daughter Linda. We met these friends in music class at the beginning of the year. Among their fellow 6-12 month olds, Sweetie and Linda demonstrated superior musicality and quickly rose to the top of the class. We watched the girls interact well together, sharing toys and instruments. Big Daddy, Momma Z and I talked after class a few times and figured out that we lived a short distance from one another. And we worked out that Linda is about two weeks older than Sweetie. With so many things aligning we decided to get together outside of class.

Our first meet-up was at a park just down the road from us, in their neighborhood. This park is nice for the girls. There are swings and slides and small obstacles for smaller kids and larger equipment for the older ones. There is plenty of space so I don’t spend the whole time worrying about some rogue 5-year-old blasting into my daughter. They installed cushy rubber flooring everywhere so it is comfortable for crawling (our park is all wood chips). Sweetie definitely enjoys the swings but prefers cruising around the grounds while Linda enjoys the rhythm of the swings. Perfect – no fighting over playground equipment with these two.

Good times

Good times

Watching the girls at play got me thinking about first friends. My parents lived next door to the couple that birthed Captain Jack (see Gratitude for a bit more). Through their connection he and I became first friends. The 37 year ebb and flow of that friendship is an interesting slice of life. We moved out of the neighborhood when I was 1, but the families stayed in touch. We would see each other a couple of times a year, definitely around the holidays. Ten years later when we were in the fourth grade, he moved to my neighborhood. Over these years there were times when we were not the best of friends but thankfully we were never enemies. Historically, when we met up with one another we picked right back up where we left off. Since I moved back to Chicago five years ago we have enjoyed a great reconnection. We’ve seen each other get married and buy houses and grow careers – and he is totally into Sweetie. And once again we live right down the street from one another.

So maybe this is what Sweetie and Linda are growing. Obviously no one can predict the future, and kids are all over the place so you don’t really know what’s next. Wife and I aren’t really the types to force a friendship, and Big Daddy and Momma Z don’t seem like the type either. But so far the girls play great together and it is neat to watch them think of the potential. And technically speaking, whatever direction their relationship goes, they are still first friends.

All the gushy friendship stuff aside, these meet-ups are a great chance to get out of the house and interact with other parents. Grown up conversation is refreshing. I imagine many of you are like me and you speak to your child all day long. Sweetie listens attentively and sometimes responds, but it’s really a 12 hour monologue. So it’s nice to shift to a give-and-take conversation for a couple of hours. There is also the idea sharing and note comparing. Talking with Big Daddy and Momma Z has been a chance to talk through feeding routines and sleep habits and most recently, teething. And sharing our stories empowers us to support each other as parents. Overall it’s just been good to meet and get to know these guys.  We share many interests and they have some great stories as well. It’s also a nice reminder to Wife and me that there are, in fact, other people outside our home.

Same time next week?

Same time next week?

So park meet ups are a winner and we are big fans. I appreciate the grown up conversation and the chance to interact with other parents. Sweetie loves getting out, the change of scenery and new places to play. She has some nice new sod in the backyard and some fun toys, but not swings! I know she benefits from the playground socialization and the introduction to those life lessons she won’t necessarily learn from Wife and I. And she has made her first friend.