Daddin': The Verb of Being a Dad

Inspired by the book, by Dion McInnis

Category Archives: The Next Generation of Daddin’

Three and Three

Part of my description of Daddin’:  The Verb of Being a Dad is “stories, poetry and journal entries of being son to a father and father to three sons.”   My dad reminded me that having a daughter changes things and perspectives of being a dad, and I have often said that God knew what he was doing by giving me three sons.  I don’t believe that I would have been a bad dad for a  daughter, but I do believe that things worked out as they were supposed to.  But now the score is even, and I can’t stop smiling.  And my heart continues to grow.

On February 13, my middle son (Justin) and his wife (Roxie) welcomed Emmie  to the world, joining her cousins Lillian and Heidi (daughters to Dion and Candice).  I am now granddad to three granddaughters.  That makes six pinky fingers around which I am already wrapped.

Already I see in the two sons with children that they enjoy and will take great pleasure and joy in being a dad.  I see it in how they respond to their children and their wives.  And I smile.  And my heart continues to grow.  The youngest of the brothers (Cameron) already shows the signs, and when the right time appears for marriage and children, he, too, will be a loving member of the daddin’ world.

As we all waited at the hospital through the long labor and then C-section, I could not help but notice the dynamics:  three brothers–one attending to his wife, and the other two in the waiting room; the two granddaughters sleeping and playing (one is three years old and the other three months old); and, that above all things this growing family shows love and support…and joy.  I feel confident that things will remain that way.  And that makes me proud as a dad.

Whether I was playing with Lillian or holding Heidi or holding the newest arrival, Emmie, I knew that life will continue to be about the verbs of daddin’ and granddaddin’, and not just the nouns of the role.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There is much to do and I am looking forward to each moment.

Feeling happy and goofy

My oldest son–now a dad with two daughters–posted on his Facebook page that his oldest (now three) said, “Daddy, you make me feel happy and goofy,” or something very close to that.  After he quoted her, he said that his Father’s Day gift was taken care of…five months early.  Father’s Day is every day.

He and his two brothers provided me some sort of Father’s Day every day with things ranging from art (like the  many examples in the Daddin’ book) to adventures to a sweet smile to a hearty laugh.

I have stated many times that being a parent is a “catch and release,” process, but it is also a time machine with time warps and “worm holes” that move us from one universe to another, from one time frame to another.

Almost any time that I interact with my sons–now aged 32, 28 and 21–I have the opportunity to feel happy and goofy, too.  Whether it is their stories (of joys and sorrows), their humor or their willingness to share, I find myself smiling, feeling younger and sometimes goofy.  Sometimes I open my book to simply be reminded of all the times from “back then,” and then to smile because the fun continues.

No matter what life brings, it seems that my sons help me feel happy and goofy.  We can do it for our kids, and they can do it for us.

The Perfect Answer

My granddaughter is brilliant.  Ok, so is yours, but I have to smile at a recent interaction and the perfection of the short dialog.

It has been too long since I held her in my arms, so I was relishing the moment the other day when she leaned back and looked at my hair.

“What color your hair?” the two and one-half year old queried.

“Oh, sweetie, that is gray,” I said.

She smiled.  “And black,” she added.

The years have brought much gray, and I am proud to say that I have earned every single strand.  But her comment was more clarifying than she knows, but such is the wisdom of youth.

As I access the wisdom and perspectives of my sons (31, 27 and 20), and reflect on the insights they have shared over the years, I am now able to access new truth again, in the sweet voice of a young girl not yet three who carries at least some of my DNA.  And so the process continues.

The Charlie Brown Tree

Christmas is tough.  I’m not alone in that.  This year was still a bit bumpy in terms of holiday spirit, but little granddaughter is helping.  And so did the Charlie Brown Tree.

My mom used to say that Christmas was for kids.  Clearly, she meant the holiday not the holy day.  And she was right.  This year, my first as a dad with no more teenagers was also my first as a granddad with a grandchild old enough to understand something was going on.  She is two; my youngest son is 20.  This Christmas provided an interesting confluence of losing and gaining a sense of holiday at the same time.  And lo and behold, the Christmas tree made a difference.

I didn’t have a tree at the house.  Just stockings hung by the chimney with care, each bearing a name:  one for each of the boys, for the dogs, for the daughters in-law, and granddaughter.  A few decorations on the mantel rounded out the festive feel, and Christmas was celebrated at my house on December 23.  I love “deepaw Christmas” because I get to smoke meats (way too much) and have everyone around for eating, talking and laughing.  On December 26, we all met at my new property in the woods.  Before little one could arrive, Santa put bows and ornaments on a small pine tree.  My frozen fingers felt like it was “job well done,” but when I looked at it later….well, it looked like Charlie’s tree.  And I recalled the time that mom and dad were going to forego a tree and then decided to buy one at nearly the last minute.  The nearly bare, tilting tree made us all laugh and mom vowed to never delay like that again. The look of the tree, the fond memories, the new memories being made (I also gave her this year a recordable book of The Charlie Brown Christmas) made for a special moment.  The tree will stay decorated on the property for as long as its decorations hold on.  And future grandchildren will get their trees, too.  Christmas holidays may be coming back as part of daddin’.

20120106-the-property_0022

 

Futures

I had the privilege of providing a book reading and presentation on my book Daddin’ to the La Porte Book Club the other day.  Having to fight back tears at times as I provided context for the poetry and stories that I read, I was constantly reminded that the best job that I have ever had is that of being a dad.  Most of the attendees did not worry about the holding back their tears.

There are rewarding times all along the way providing me stories for books, name for a boat (Memory Maker), and an ever-present sense of purpose.

As I write this, all three of the boys are doing things they love with people that matter to them.  One is working the bonfire project at Texas A&M, another is preparing sausage from the harvest of yesterday’s deer hunt, and another is fishing.  Their lives are full of passion, zeal, and reasonable expectations.  Every time I talk to them or watch them or listen to them, I feel good about their futures.  Add to that the budding life of the first grandchild and a simple truth confronts me:  being a dad is about futures.

Two years?

Lillian–“Lil Girl,” as her dad, my oldest son, calls her–will be two years old soon.  Very soon.  Two years.  TWO years.  Two YEARS.  No matter how I place the emphasis, there is no easy way to comprehend how fast time has flown and how little of it I have seen.  I can’t change the pace of the former but I can change the latter.  I have to.

Two years ago, I was awaiting the delivery of my first copy of my book Daddin’.  It arrived 48 hours before Lil Girl’s birth and her dad received my copy.  “Well, son, welcome to the fun of being a dad,” I said…or something to that effect…as we stood in the waiting room of the hospital where Lil was about to be born.  Then I blinked, and now it is today.

Is it the momentum gained by my own aging process that made the last two years go so fast, or was it the too-few times that I spent time with her?

The benefit of daddin’ is that all the time appears to be in front.  For granddaddin’, the bulk of time is behind me. For Lil’s second birthday, I am going to give myself a gift for the years to come…more time with her.

Fishin’…it is in the blood

Some of my fondest memories with my dad occurred while we fished.  And among the many great memories with my sons, fishing played a big part.  In fact, among the verbs that serve as chapter titles for the book, one of them is fishin’.

For Lillian’s 2011 Christmas–her first to be old enough to be able to use anything that appeared under the tree or in the stockings hung with care–her youngest uncle, Cameron, bought her a pink princess fishing rod.  A little spincast rig.  It quickly became her favorite toy. Cameron, who has taken fishing further than any McInnis has (he is on the Hobie fishing team now), was very proud of the gift and then of her love of it.

Dion called the other day to remind me that Lillian loved the rod and that she would grab the rod and walk up to him saying “fish.”  He described how they would get on the sofa (boat) and fish.  I could see the image as clearly in my head as if he handed me a photograph to add to my cardboard Daddin’ box.  As McInnis stories are wont to do, this one continued.  After a while of imaginary fishing, they used their collective rich imaginations and sense of play to take the sport to the next level of reality, particularly for a living room.

He went on to describe tying liver doggie snacks onto the end of the line so they could fish and catch something live…their beloved family dog, ACe.  I bust out laughing at the scene in my mind; my heart melted at the thought of the laughter that father and daughter shared; and, I smiled gently at the memories that were being made.  I trust their fun was catch and release.  It is good practice; parenting is catch and release, over and over and over again.