Reclaiming the”Fun Dad” role

This weekend my wife was out of town, so it was just the girls and I. (I didn’t even call in any reinforcements from grandma or my sister-cue the pat on the back!). So while she was away for the weekend, I wanted to do it up big with the girls.  This was my chance to recapture some of the fun dad magic, loosen up a bit. My typical role is the disciplinarian, the one who maintains order and structure, aka, the “not fun” dad. But, when it’s just me and the girls… I guess you could say I have something to prove. When did I stop being “fun dad” and how do I get that title back?

Quick side note, growing up ironically I felt similarly about my own dad. He always seemed so serious, except for the rare occasions when he wasn’t and I got to catch him actually having fun. I loved seeing that side of him. What’s cool is that as an adult, that’s the side of him I get to see the most. Go figure.  Perhaps that’s who he’s always been. As a kid, I certainly didn’t associate him (or really any of the male role models in my life) with fun. What’s that about? Perhaps they were too busy trying to work and protect what they were building for our family to enjoy it with us?

At any rate, whenever I have these daddy daughter days or weekends, I tend to overcompensate myself, because I have this gnawing feeling that I’m doing the same thing. If I’m being honest, the version of myself that the girls regularly experience isn’t always the best version. They sometimes get the stressed, tired, just need a break at the end of a long day dad who’s not really interested in playing games or having fun. When I spend my entire day putting out professional fires, it’s hard to turn off that hose.

With that said, when I’m not actually working (and sometimes when I am), I can be a fun guy. Perhaps even funny? What’s interesting though is that I’m really at my best when I’ve found a way to relax and throw a bit of caution to the wind. That also is what tends to get us into some of our adventures. Here’s one thing I can say, whenever the girls and I do hang out solo, we always have a story to tell afterwards. Here’s our story from yesterday.

My original plan was for the girls and I to take our newly vaccinated puppy of 9 weeks, Coco, to our favorite park in town for the first time. Afterwards, we’d walk around a few shops, and maybe even do some biking around town. Sounds ambitious right? Sure. But, after the girls reminded me how much of a disaster it was the last time we tried to ride bikes with Coco in tow, I quickly nixed the bike part. (On our last daddy daughter date, I took the girls and Coco to ride bikes around a lake near their school and well, Coco refused to stay in the bike carrier, escaping several times and we ended up chasing a very fast 6-8 week old puppy around a lake, so that’s the story for that ill-fated adventure).

So instead of biking, we settled on just bringing Coco to the park and walking over to Ponce City Market to try and enjoy some outdoor shopping afterwards. Seemed safe enough, and everything was going fairly well at first. Sure there was the requisite fussing along the way…(everyone wanted to play on the playground equipment before walking Coco, suddenly after bringing scooters instead of bikes no one wanted to actually ride them alongside Coco, Sloane for some reason was super fussy…but I chalked that up to her not having a nap yet…).

By the time we’d finished up playing with Coco, we decided to venture across the street to the shops. No biggie right? I was so distracted by the ongoing pouting from the girls and the incessant whining that I didn’t even notice Coco was doing her little poop dance. Next thing I know, right in front of the door to Lululemon of all places, Coco sits down and releases the biggest poop I’ve seen her produce in her short life. Moments ago I’d been getting all kinds of cudos from passerbys about the well behaved dog and cute family (4 daughters oh my! is what they all gasp and cheer when they see me out with the girls). Now, all I could feel were disapproving stares as I saw a security guard walking my way as I quickly scooped up her excrement and got out of there.

We made it back to the park and all I really wanted to do at that point was just get in the van and go home, but suddenly everyone was begging for a few minutes on the merry go round. I feel like I’d been on one already this afternoon, but I also was exacerbated (and obviously not thinking clearly) so I relented. Moments later, remember that 3 year old who’d been fussy all afternoon? Well, she threw up all over the merry go round. I’m sitting there with 4 other dads (it must have been some kind of national dad afternoon?) and suddenly we all hear screaming, and kids fleeing the scene. We each go to scoop up our kids while I grab Sloane.

You should have seen the 4 dads including myself evacuating our kids from the scene while other unsuspecting parents approached with their kids only to discover a pool of vomit. (Don’t worry, after I packed the girls and Coco back in the van I found a towel in the trunk to go clean it up). 

Gone were the rest of my plans to hit the bookstore (our favorite spot). Instead, we headed home where I immediately put Sloane to bed, and settled in with the girls for the evening. We ended up watching Shrek when I discovered that they hadn’t yet seen the trilogy (the tragedy!). As it turns out, that was the most fun part of my day (and I think theirs too). Though, as usual, we have a story to tell about the rest of the day that will life in Wakefield infamy.

But I learned an important lesson this weekend. Here’s the thing about fun dad, fun dad is cool, but he tries too hard. What my girls really want and love, is their actual dad. And he can be fun sometimes too (when he’s not overcompensating).


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