I used to share
Pinterest-pinned blog posts New York Times articles like “1001 Father/Daughter Dates”, “88 Things A Father Should Teach His Daughter”, or “How To Become Super Dad” with Mr. Thrasher. My intentions are noble. This is not about pushing or nagging or controlling (no, seriously). This is way more complicated and yet so simple: I want my husband to be equipped to be the father I never had.
Then, one day, he was in the middle of a coming-home-from-work-cuddle with Emma (yes, that’s a thing at Thrasher Home), I suddenly realized, he doesn’t need those articles. He knows when and what to say to Emma to make her feel better or praise her. He understands the importance of discipline and setting boundaries for her. He sees her need for physical touch, quality time and words of affirmation. He notices when she just pretends to be fearless but really could use some encouragement. He teaches her how to play baseball, ride her bike, make French Toast, take care of our dog, do yoga, catch bugs and build Lego.
But how does he do it?
It’s not like he has done this fatherhood thing before. Neither does he have mentoring role models in his life. At least, no one he is actually doing life with, no one who is genuinely invested. So where are his mad daddy skills coming from? It’s not rocket science, there is no shortcut or magic trick. It’s surprisingly simple.
“The creative adult is the child who survived.”
Making ice cream, visiting a museum for airplanes, rough-housing, playing baseball, putting on adventure hats and exploring – those are things he just wants to do for
His experience with girls?
Intuition and listening to his
nagging helpful wife.
Observe, listen and engage.
Winning his daughter’s heart, protecting her from harm and preparing her for life.
When Mr. Thrasher comes home, Emma will run to the door, give Papa a big hug and tell him how much she missed him. That moment, Paul says, everything that’s happened that day just melts away. No matter how exhausted he is, if Emma has to show him something, he will take her tiny hand and follow her. No complaints. Just pride and gratitude to be her Papa.
It’s not always Rainbow Dash and butterflies.
Of course, there are days when the skies are cloudy, the voices a little louder and the only game played is “who has more will power”. In those moments, it is hard to show love and give her grace. Impatience trumps affection. Encouragement is conquered by exhaustion. Passion and purpose are defeated by provocation. Yet, Mr. Thrasher knows that those moments offer opportunities to shape her, teach her. He is aware that his loving discipline is needed to show her right from wrong.
Now, do yourself a favor and watch him the next time he’s around your kid. Take notes. I bet he already won his/her heart.
No cape needed.