Parent with Enthusiasm

Being a dad is fun. I mean, other than the pregnancy, the back pain, the child birth…tee hee. Actually, it is still kind of difficult. Truthfully, it’s a bit of a balancing act.

Chelsea and I recently had a discussion about how she feels like she’s the “grumpy one” and I get to be the fun one. My response? “Well, that’s just how it feels to you. That's not what it looks like.” Using my mother as a guide to help understand this dynamic Chelsea was feeling, I tried to think of a word to describe it. After sitting there looking at the wall for about ten seconds, it came to me. Stability. “Yes Chelsea, you are not grumpy. You represent stability.”

That’s right. Mom, you are the center of family norm. When something seems just not right, we can turn to you to find our center. That goes for when the boys do either good or bad. Just one look from mom can let any little dude know it’s time to reel it in.

Being a dad, however, you don’t get to be the center. You get to be the poles. At least that's the way it worked with my parents (and for the most part, for Chelsea and I). As “DAD,” my responsibility naturally flows from my ability to be both the motivator/exciter and the hammer/disciplinarian. Why this is, I’m not entirely sure…but I have a small hypothesis which may make sense. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am completely willing to make a fool of myself in public.

It's all about the male skill of morphing back into a ten year old in less time than it takes to hit the water from the edge of a high dive whilst performing the perfect cannon ball.

As DAD, I recently noticed this ‘dynamic’ play out in a simple walk from my F350 to the mall. As I rounded up Some Boy, I set him down on the ground, closed the doors, locked the truck and extended my DAD tow hook (my hand). I linked up with my toddler cargo and began my haul to the front door of the store, taking note of every teen driver in the lot attempting to impress their friends by showing them how fast their Altima is in the 10 parking space Sprint Cup.

As I was focused on the multitudes of holiday parking lot threats, I was only slightly startled when my son shouted with joy, “Plaaaaaane!” as his little finger strained to extend to its full length while it tracked the Cessna 172 like the Phalanx anti-aircraft gun.

Now, most parents would simply nod and say, “Yes buddy, plane.” I, however, love that my little dude is excited about the amazing things in life that everyone else takes for granted after they turn 13.

I noticed the faces of the other mall goers gawking in shock as the tiny voice of a two and a half year old was immediately joined by the booming voice of a 28 year old father, “PLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANE!” My eyes met with the 50+ year old couple's eyes. I held their gaze for a brief moment and then…

“Look buddy! Another PLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANE! PLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANE!” And we continued to trade off shouting at the magical object floating through the air until both father and son crossed through the threshold of the complex of sales and empty promises. Safely away from the teen derby and into the den of all too cool teens drinking their Orange Julius and munching their Cinnabuns.

All was quiet until we discovered the children’s mall TRAAAAAAAAAAAAIN!