Camden, that was the question I asked a few of my friends this past week. I recorded their answers along with their telling of a dad joke. I put the video on Facebook. I did not answer that question on the video. I will try to do that now.
I have enjoyed watching my three children grow from the tiny people I held in my hands into wonderful adults who at times need a dad hug. Or dad needs the hug. That is most often the case.
I have enjoyed watching them reach different milestones in their development. Their first steps. Their first words. A lot of words. Very loud words at times. They get that from their mother, grandmother, great grandmother etc. If you know my family you understand.
I think of the small role I have played in what they have become. That makes me smile.
Looking back over the years, I would describe my Fatherhood years as practicing.
Fatherhood is somewhat like being a doctor in some respects. They practice medicine, not really knowing if what they are doing is going to work for their patients. I get that really well.
Fatherhood is similar. Over the years, I practiced being a Father hoping that what I said and modeled might have been the correct thing for that moment. When the kids needed something, I hoped that I would be able to lay down some knowledge. Or if not maybe bullshit my way through the situation well enough that we both actually learned something. I wish Google or Siri had been around.
Camden, if you have not caught on, as I was watching my children grow into adulthood, they were watching me grow into Fatherhood. Who benefits the most from that? Well grandchildren of course.
Camden, you and Adalie are the benefactors of a well-oiled, (old), Grand Fatherhood machine. I am just not quite as agile. I realize that I may not be as good as I once was, but I am as good once as I ever was. Camden I am sure Gaga will roll her eyes. (Thanks Toby)
Doctors have what they call a residency where they learn to be, well they learn to be doctors. I grew up in a residence (see I told you they were similar) where I was supposed to learn to be a father. Well, I will not go into that here today. Let’s just say I learned by watching other fathers and by trial and error. A lot of trial and error. Fathers unlike doctors are not licensed.
Many a teaching moment would present itself while with one of the kids or all three of them while eating ice cream. I loved those moments of talking and answering their questions, and of course eating ice cream.
There were other times I practiced being a Father besides when we were eating ice cream, but they all had something in common. Love is what they had in common. No matter what the problem we had to face they knew that I loved them.
It was those times of sharing. Those times of counseling. Those times of fun that I enjoyed. Still do.
One Sunday after church we went out to lunch. (Yes at one time I went to church) We were at a restaurant where they had great chocolate shakes. Imagine that.
When they saw our family of five, and how young the children were, they found a table for us that was actually a distance away from other diners. I did not blame them. I actually kind of liked being away from others.
Only one table, which was a few tables away from us, was occupied. There sat an older couple. I would have said elderly, but I have stopped using that word. No one better call me elderly.
We ordered our food which included chocolate shakes for everyone. Of course, we four kids found a way to have even more fun with our shakes. Someone, I am not saying who, because I do not remember, started blowing into their straw which of course caused the ice cream to bubble. Okay, probably me, and if not then Justin.
You could see the bubbles through the clear glass. Everyone then became bubble blowers. The bubbles would eventually pop. The ice cream sometimes would go flying out of the glass, and we would laugh. We were making a little mess. We did this many, many times so we were a little loud. Did I mention that my family was loud?
I noticed the older couple kept looking at us and I was concerned that we might have been too loud which was keeping them from enjoying their lunch. We finished before them and as the family walked away from the table l lagged behind. I approached the couple and apologized to them for disturbing their lunch.
It has been many years, but I will never forget what the man said to me. He let me know that we were not disturbing him and his wife. They kept looking over at us because: “We were enjoying watching you enjoy your kids.”
His words made me feel that maybe, just maybe I was doing this dad thing right.