Sunday, November 24, 2013

Perchable Dad

Great dads are sometimes harder to spot.  It's not that there is any lack of them out there; it's that moms tend to lead the charge.  Moms are often quieting the crying baby, grabbing something out of their bottomless bags to keep the kids entertained or disciplining a wayward child.  Yesterday, I had the gift of seeing a father in action and it truly moved my heart.

I was Christmas shopping at our local outlets and stopped for a few minutes to rest.  I sat down on a bench by the fountains and opened up my ipad to read a book about discipline (more on that another day!) and a father with three boys sat down on the bench next to me.  The boys were messing around by the fountain and I smiled to myself feeling a sense of familiarity.  I certainly know what my boys would be doing around a fountain.  As they raced around it and jumped on and off the lip of the pool, one of his boys had a bright idea.  He wanted to dip his legs in the two foot fountain of water.  

His father said he could but that he would have to live with wet jeans.  The boy took off his shoes and socks and put both feet in the water.  His brothers cheered and he climbed out of the fountain with a smile.  And then he realized how uncomfortable it is to have wet jeans.  He hung his head, whined a bit and petitioned for a new pair (we were at the outlets, after all) and his dad gave him a bear hug.  "You can't have new jeans, papi," he said in a loving voice.  "Come here you crazy kid."  He never gave in but he never withheld comfort and understanding.

I watched the boys each take turns pushing him to do something they shouldn't (example: "Can we play catch?" in the middle of the mall walkway.) and I watched him handle them with much love but with a firm hand.  He must have hugged each of them at least twice during the fifteen or twenty minutes I sat there and it was clear that they respected and loved him very much.  "I wouldn't trade my kids for anything," he told me after yet another debate about the wet jeans.  And I could see in his eyes that he meant it.

Parenting is a constant balance of discipline and kindness but as I watched this man parenting his kids, what struck me the most was his joy.  Even with all the normal challenges he experienced, it was so clear that he had more fun with his kids than with anyone else.  It was clear that he would choose time with them over any other opportunity.  It was clear that his joy made them feel incredibly loved.  And that is what is ultimately means to be a Perchable Parent.

How can you find more joy in your everyday experiences with your children?

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