I'm a bad dad. No really, I am.
The other night I was taking the kids to get frozen yogurt before we went to Tye and Marlo's for s'mores. It wasn't until Derek mentioned that he wanted Chinese food that I gave serious consideration to the fact that froyo and s'mores, although delicious and (I can justify) nutritious, may not sustain them like I hoped it would.
We turned around, feasted on the $1.44 a scoop delights of rice noodles, sesame chicken, orange chicken, and rice, then got froyo and went for s'mores. Not a bad day.
Or was it?
It was a day that was supposed to be just for my kids. A day for me, with a hectic travel schedule, to focus on them. But that wasn't how it went for most of the day.
Instead of precious time earlier in the day, we fought epic power struggles, the kind kids have when there's limited structure so they're left to their own devices. The kind that are brought on by kids clamoring to know they're loved and that their voice is heard.
So when they happened, being worn down, tired, and just wanting some peaceful time with my children not UFC 205, I of course made the unsound, unreasonable choice to react and or unwittingly punish them for their defiance. That meant I spent time doing my own thing and they did theirs.
Now here I sit in a hotel room in Winston-Salem, NC, thinking about them and their well being. They're with their mom tonight, watching a movie. That helps. But it's still not enough for this dad's heart.
I just watched a video of my friend Kyle playing his guitar while his little boy sang (closer to screamed) along and Kyle engaged him, encouraging him to sing. That's what a great dad looks like. As his son pushed a book on the floor while singing, I imagined myself stopping the song, teaching him not to push the book, and then continuing. Instead, Kyle focuses on his son and connecting with him.
I'm left wondering do I do that? Do I encourage them? Help them see and reach their potential? Do I treat them as well or better than I would business associates? Do I take the time with them that I give my friends? Do I look them in the eyes and connect?
Sure, some of this is catharsis and I really do think in some ways I do a good job with them. I'm not looking for kudos, sympathy, or virtual hugs.
What I really want is for my kids to know how unendingly, enduringly, and amazingly their dad loves, respects, admires, and believes in them.
I want my children to know that I constantly think of them, pray for them, want the best for them. I constantly wonder what I need to do to support them, to meet their needs, and to help them adjust.
Now if I can just remember to do that when I'm home and the kitchen table is a mess, three of them need something at the same time, and I'm tired and worn out. Hopefully then I'm not a bad dad...