Being a Dad isn’t easy and I don’t think I understood mine until I became one. Don’t twist my words and think that my Dad wasn’t involved, because he was. That is actually the whole point of this. Every year he took my friends and I camping. He coached my sports teams. He played with me, he worked hard, he listened to me when I was willing to talk. He read me bedtime stories. Some of my fondest memories, though, were building.
We had so many blocks. So many. While my Mom was out, usually at choir practice (yes my childhood was pretty idyllic), we would eat fish sticks and French fries and take out the blocks. We would go into the hallway and we wouldn’t just build a castle, we would build a kingdom. There were roads, and towers, and twist and turns and just a whole lot of smiles, laughter and amazingness. In retrospect it seems like such a simple thing, but wow those moments linger in my mind so vividly.
The impact comes from that undivided attention that invaded the ether in the pre-Iphone Facebook age, a level of attention that I am not sure even exists anymore in our overly-interconnected world. Until I became what passes for a grown up these days, I had no idea how much giving undivided attention costs. My Dad was a busy guy, but there was always an extra moment for me. He has always been there, even when I was in college and dodging his calls because I was getting crappy grades. Quite often, as I move along my insane day as a Stay at Home Dad of three kids under four, I remind myself that if my Dad did it, so can I.
Attention. Our kids want it so bad they will even take it if it is negative. That should give us all pause. It should make me hide my cellphone in a drawer and break out the blocks. I want to give my kids so much but they need nothing other than my eyes just on them. My Dad taught me that. In fact, to this day, I love moments where it is just he and I engaged in some humdrum activity, because when he pays attention to his big ‘ole boy, I still feel like a million bucks.