Instant Responses (Love, Appreciation, Bond)

This morning, I was thinking about how my daughter loves to perform. She does it at dinner, with friends at home talent shows, and she has delighted in her performance opportunities at her summer camps.

Me – “You really love performing, don’t you?”

Her – “Yeah.”

Me – “Is there anything you love more than performing?”

Without missing a beat, she responded-

Her – “You.”

I chuckled.

Me – “That’s sweet. I mean, is there anything else you like to do more than performing?”

Her – “Be silly. Do magic.”

I noted that both of them had to do with performing.

A little while later, we were in the car. Out-of-the-blue…

Her – “Daddy, how much money do you have in your bank account?”

I told her roughly how much I currently have in my checking.

Her – “Wow. That’s a lot.”

It was silent for a moment before she added…

Her – “Would you like to be the richest man in the world?”

Without missing a beat, I responded-

Me – “I already am.”

She giggled, happy with my answer.

Me – “You understand what I mean, huh?”

Her – “Yes.”

The days consist of this. The days consist of that. But underneath it all is love and gratitude for our deep connection.

Can’t beat that.

A Clear Intent (Love, Bond)

We were in the pool at Nonna and Papa’s house goofing around. Her heel bopped me on the shin in a tender spot. Earlier in their home office she had bopped me with a flashlight in the eyebrow as she tried to get me to create a spotlight for her to dance in.

Back at the pool…

Me – “Ouch!”

Her – “Sorry, Daddy! Where does it hurt?”

I held my leg and rubbed the tender spot. Jokingly, I mused

Me – “Wow, you’re determined to hurt me today, aren’t you?”

Without missing a beat, she answered back-

Her – “No. I’m determined to love you.”

And, day by day, it shows.

The Scent of Cuteness (Humor, Sweet Moment to Remember)

I was at the computer, and she ran up to me

Her – “Daddy, time to swim!”

Me – “It’s 5:35. In ten minutes.”

She groaned

Her – “Wait, let me smell your arm.”

She leaned in

Her – “A little bit of a chlorine smell.”

I guess that was from me realizing recently that all the swimming we do occasionally results in a slight chemical smell on our skin.

She started to leave but then quickly turned back and out her arm under my nose.

Her – “What do I smell like?”

Me – “Cuteness.”

She giggled, kissed me on the cheek and ran off.

Happy Days (Wisdom of a Child)

On our way to camp this morning, I was spouting off about being grateful and excited. Not surprisingly, I guess, I looked up to see a car in front of us with a license plate that read


Me – “Look at that license plate, Bear. It says thanks to all of life, maybe. That person is living with an attitude of gratitude.”

After some thought to myself…

Me – “On the other hand, maybe the person is thanking, Al, a person.”

Her – “If I had a license plate it would say ‘Happy Days.’

Me – “Hmmm… mine would say ‘Passion in Motion.’

We drove a bit more and then I added…

Me – “You know, ‘Happy Days’ is a great theme. It’s definitely how you approach life now. It would be a fantastic theme to keep for all of your life. Happy days, one day at a time.”

She nodded and murmured in agreement, and on we drove.

Daddy Boundaries (Fostering independence, Parenting self-care)

She knows I’m dedicated to her well being, day after day, but I do have boundaries.

Her – “Daddy, can you…”

Me – “No, I’m not going to take that plate to the kitchen for you. You get up and do it.”

Me – “No, I’m not going to go get your comb. You know where to get it, and you know where to put it when you’re done.”

And so on.

Of course, I will help her out with things, but I draw the line on things that she ought to take care of on her own, given the situation. It’s important not only for myself but for fostering her independence and self-initiative.

But she will keep trying, as we all do as kids.

Today, she popped one that I thought was funny,

She’s in the zone this summer with having a good time and expressing herself in different ways. This morning, before camp, she started making a loon bracelet.

Honestly, at first, I thought to myself, “She has so many things on her goal board for the summer that does she really need to start yet another project?” But I kept quiet, reasoning that letting her creativity come out as she desired trumped doing something for her summer goals.

Me – “Just make sure you’ve brushed your teeth and have everything ready for camp before you continue.”

She took the little loon maker in the car and weaved away. By the time we arrived with the help of a YouTube tutorial, it was almost complete.

Her – “Can you finish it while I’m in camp?”

I bust out laughing

Me – “No!”

Her – “Yeah.”

Me – “Like I don’t have anything else to do with my day. I’m going to go home and watch a YouTube video on making loons so you have a bracelet while you’re having fun in camp? No!”

She nudged me in the arm with her elbow, annoyed, as I continued to chuckle about her request

Me – “Look, I love you, but I have some boundaries, too. You can complete it tonight.”

That earned me one more bop from her elbow.

You never know how your child will pick up a lesson. Setting boundaries with people is an important lesson to learn in life. Hopefully, this brief moment between us helps with that.

What a Child Wants in a Parent (Love, Connection, Quality time, Playfulness)

A couple years ago, I saw a news story about a boy whose Dad had died in the war in Iraq. The boy was asked what he thought his Dad was like. Although he hadn’t had the chance to really get to know him, he said, “I think he was kind and fun.”

I was moved by his words.

One, the boy would never see his Dad. Sad. But it also got me thinking… “I think that’s really what kids want from their parents… fun and kindness. I want to do even better at this. That’s how I want my girl to think of me.”

Fast forward to this afternoon as we drove after we had just dropped off one of her best friends…

Me – “Wow, you’re having a great summer!”

She murmured in agreement as she continued building something on Minecraft.

For a moment, I just sort of basked in the satisfaction that she is having such a wonderful summer. It’s a mission of mine to make this summer count as she is growing up so fast.

I also thought about how after she’s had many playdates, even though most of them happen at our home, we miss each other. She will eventually say she wants to spend time with me, and I’ll feel the same. Two days it starts to be felt and three days and it’s a real pull to get in that quality time.

Me – “Isn’t it funny how after a bunch of playdates and you being at summer camps we miss each other, even though we’re around each other?”

Her – “Yeah.”

As we drove on, I reflected on how fortunate I am…

Me – “I appreciate traveling through the Universe with you.”

Her – “I appreciate you, Da.”

Me – “Thank you, honey.”

Her – “I appreciate that you’re such a fun and loving Daddy.”

Me – “What did you say?”

I thought I had heard her correctly, but I wanted to hear it one more time…

Her – “I appreciate that you’re such a fun and loving Daddy.”

Me – “Awww… thank you.”

Cue sappy Daddy. I was touched.

One isn’t always spot on as a parent, especially after having to repeat oneself about basic things for the thousandth time while being low on sleep. But one tries. In fact, I’ve been really trying to be even more loving and playful with her throughout the summer as I know that my energy is what sets the tone for our home and thus her summer. It’s sort of my secret Daddy mission each day.

My eyes moistened up a bit for a minute after hearing that she was feeling this way about being around me.

Then I recalled the little boy who lost his Daddy who, despite not really knowing him, thought of him as fun and kind.

It’s pretty much what kids want. Yeah, sure they need safety, healthy foods and life skills. But what they thrive on is love and playfulness.

Sometimes, my Mom tells stories about her Dad. She always smiles as she recounts funny things he said or did. She has all these stories. When I hear them, I always think, “That’s what I want… for her to be able to look back one day on her childhood and just think, “He was fun and loving.”

So, I’m feeling good as the thoughts I had when I heard that boy speak a couple years ago are my reality and thus her reality.

You never really get to call it mission accomplished as a parent, though, because the days keep coming and they keep changing. It’s a commitment I have to renew each morning.

“Make this day count with her as she’ll never be this young again. Be loving, invest time in her, and create playful moments to remember.”

And, if there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, when I’m in a loving and playful place, parenting is just plain easy. After all, I’m speaking her language; the language kids love to hear most as they travel through time and space with us.