My wife reads and writes a lot of blogs for and about moms. I’d say moms definitely corner the parenting market in the blogosphere. There’s simply not much there for us dads.
So, this is for you, blog-reading and non-blog-reading Dads. I know many of you are probably reading this because your wife is making you. Still, I’m glad you’re here. I’ll keep my thoughts brief, provide lots of pictures, and give you a few words to say to your wife so she knows you really “got it.”
Here’s what I want to say:
You should take your kids camping.
I’m not a camping person. I go when I’m forced to. Last weekend I was forced to go camping because our 1st grader started Cub Scouts and it was the annual fall campout. It fell on the same weekend as our church’s Ladies Retreat, so my wife retreated with 30 women while I camped with our six boys and like 75 other scout families. Our boys are 3, 4, 6, 6, 8, and 11.
Set up this tent
Made this fire (it really did catch, eventually)
Heated up water for oatmeal, hot chocolate, and coffee on this camping stove
Played with this turtle
Won this rockin’ alien mask on a scavenger hunt
Watched our 1st grader kill it in kickball
While some of the others kept score
and other cool stuff that wasn’t captured on camera.
It was a challenge camping with six kids, for sure. But – and I know everybody says this – if I can do it, so can you! I am not what you might call “nature savvy.” I took most of our camping supplies out of the original packaging they came in when we got them two Christmases ago. I’m not very good at starting fires. I don’t own a single working flashlight. It took over half an hour to set up our tent. I didn’t have the ability, energy, or emotional stamina to add the rain fly, so instead I crawled in the tent, got on my knees, and begged God to hold back the rain for the night. It worked, too.
Camping forces you to engage. And let’s be honest, sometimes we need someone or something to force us to engage our kids. It’s easy to consume ourselves with ourselves, or our work, or our sports, or our books, or our shows, or our projects, or our tee times, or our Fantasy Whatever. Anything but our kids.
But, seriously, does anything get your kids fired up more than when you play with them? Try this and see if I’m wrong: the next time your kids are in the middle of something they love (in our case it would be Minecraft or Pokemon cartoons) stand in the middle of the room and, as loud as you can, shout, “WRESTLEMANIA!” Then (gently) body slam the nearest kid. I’m not kidding, whatever they were doing will be dead to them and they will come alive because Dad wants to play. We only have boys, but I have to believe daughters love wrestling their dads just as much as sons. And if wrestling’s not their thing, buy some water balloons, get some face paint, take a hike, go eat ice cream, climb a tree, play with play dough, ride bikes, make a crazy video, build a fort and throw wadded-up socks at anyone who comes near it.
If you think this is only for young kids, try any of the above with your teenager and watch the kid come out. I hear people complain a lot about kids being disengaged, consumed with electronics, etc. I think a playful dad is the best way to bust them out of that rut.
Now, as promised, here are a few lines to say so your wife knows you got it:
1. Do you think I play enough with (insert child(s) name)?
2. Should we go camping some time?
3. Maybe I’ll take (insert child(s) name) shopping for fishing poles tomorrow (now’s your chance!!!!).
4. Was your dad playful?