Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Recreation”

I’m Actually Starting To Like This

There is not a parent in the world, who does not wish that their children never got old. The innocence of laughter, finding security in knowing the parent is going to be there for them, Little Einsteins.

I am one of those parents who has left three-inch divot skid marks, being dragged into the later years of my daughters childhood, one now actually of adult age. I most certainly miss the days of teaching to ride bikes, riding kiddie rides at amusement parks, watching performances, and of course, helping with homework that I could understand (at least in the first half of their elementary school).

All this is good. I know my responsibility as a parent is to teach them, to be a role model for them, to prepare them for that day that they eventually are out on their own. But I was having so much fun. Now, it is getting serious. They have actually mentioned boys. There are conversations about after high school. The things that I say and do now, are the things that they will remember, not necessarily follow my advice, but I will be in their ears at least.

I have emphasized to my older daughter, the need to register to vote. Of all things that she does as an adult, this is the one thing that will have an impact on her, each year of her life. She was upset that she missed the last presidential race, but looks forward to the next one. But having a father who spend a short period in local politics, this was an opportunity to teach her the importance of local political elections.

While it is hard to conceive that one vote could make a difference in a national election, that one vote can make a difference for sure in a local election. And where my daughters live, there is a very important election this year. And I have told my daughter, her vote will definitely make a difference.

This was also an opportunity for me to teach her, that elections are not just about showing up and casting a vote. As she prepares to register to vote, she already has an idea of where she stands politically, and proudly, the acorn does not fall far from the tree. Anyone who has followed politics over recent years, has likely heard the phrase “disenfranchised voters.” My daughter understands that.

I do not know if she will register with a party or as a non-party, and that is her choice. I will always respect that. But the one thing that I have heard from her that is encouraging, is that she will not tow a party line if there is an issue that she does not support. Good for her, in more ways than one. This means, she is actually going to look at the candidates that she will vote for. She will want to make sure the candidate best meets her values and interests.

Her sister is not far behind, but is still trying to figure out her direction. There is concern on her part, that she does not have a “focused” interest, like many of her friends. Both of my daughters have had their share of participation in recreational activities, as I tried to find their interest and keep it. And it is a parent’s choice, which direction is taken, whether to push forward, in spite of apathy or disinterest, or to allow the child to look into something else. And that is the path that I had taken.

I explained to my daughter, that she should not be discouraged because she has not “found” her interest yet. I explained to her, that it is all about finding the right one. She has no problem with application, she gives 100% whatever she does. But it is about keeping her interest. And then I threw this curve ball at her. That I was the same way, tried all kinds of things, not having one main hobby or interest. It was not until I got into adulthood, that I discovered two things that I truly am passionate about, and one of those came about by fate. Music is 100% in my blood. I have always enjoyed writing and public speaking. And it is since my diagnosis with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that I soon realized this was what was meant to be.

In the meantime, I will keep encouraging her to keep trying anything that has her curiosity. It would not surprise me one bit, ten years from now, she has returned to something she enjoyed in her childhood, and will make it what she wants to enjoy out of life.

I do not have many memories of my childhood to compare them with the adult conversations that I have had with my parents. But you know what? I am really starting to enjoy the more grown up chats with my daughters too. Now if I could just get the one to stop making me squirm with some of the topics (an intentional act on her part).

Happy Easter

I would describe myself as a “traditional” kind of person. I may not have traditions, but I do want them. Traditions are important. They remind us of times that we could count on, safe, happy. All too often, we also recognize that traditions come to an end.

Most of my childhood, we had two kinds of get togethers, Sunday dinners and holiday meals. My grandmother was the common attraction as we all gathered for her. Sadly, we knew there would come a day that she would no longer be with us, and it was likely we would no longer get together. When she passed, those traditions were gone. I knew that it would happen.

In my adulthood, pre-parenthood, it was fairly easy, my 1st wife and I would just hop from one family to another on holidays. There were not really any thoughts or feelings behind these gatherings, because at this point in my life, I had become really jaded against holidays because of the various crisis that I had faced, commonly around the holidays.

But that changed with my second marriage, and the arrival of my daughters.

I had to start caring about the holidays again. As I child, I knew that it was important. It was also another chance for me to open my heart to holiday traditions, these of my own. Christmas, Easter, all of the different holidays would be fun again. At Easter, just as when I was a child, Easter baskets were hidden in the house, as well as some other fun plastic eggs with treats inside. I usually like to commit 100% to the act, but admittedly looking back, I failed in one aspect of proving the Easter Bunny had arrived. Sure, he at the carrot left for him, in retrospect, I should have scattered Cocoa Puff cereal on the floor just for effect. But, that is my sense of humor.

Our family had three separate celebrations each holiday, one for their mother, and one with my mother and one with my father. But Easter was the only holiday that my father asked to host. For years, he would cook a ham, and all the veggies. We scattered eggs in his backyard for my daughters to find.

Just as with the other holidays, the only bad thing, was that we spent the entire holiday, out on the road. With my parents living an hour away, that meant at least two hours on the road, and the countless hours visiting homes. My daughters barely had any time to enjoy their Easter goodies once we got home at the end of the night.

This was the last year that I celebrated Easter. It was 2014. My father was dying of lung cancer, and would succumb a month later. Without him hosting the annual Easter meal, just as with my grandmother, we no longer got together except for one more time, at my father’s funeral. Since then, either by my choice in some cases, and in some cases others, that has been the last time most of us have even spoken.

As if things were not spread thin enough as it was, with my parents being divorced, now my second wife and I in the process of divorce. Holidays were going to get much more complicated. In an attempt to keep things as civil as possible during proceedings, and coming to an understanding with custody, I made the unusual and unexpected decision to give their mother every holiday. It was an easy decision to make, given my feelings with holidays, and knowing they meant more to their mother, it would be one less source of friction as we brought our marriage to an end. I would work out a time period around those holidays, but the holidays themselves, with the exception of Father’s Day, would belong to her.

Time has flown by. One of my daughters is now of adult age, and the other is not far behind. This is going to give a whole new meaning to future holidays, because it will no longer be me doing the scheduling to see them, but when they can, and want to see me. I am hoping that they both continue their education, and then likely after that, they will begin to build their lives, and hopefully their own families. And that will mean their own traditions.

Will they remember the fun things I did to make their holidays memorable? I hope so. But they will also want to create their own. But if there is one thing I wish I could do over again, and I hope they learn from my mistake, make the holidays about themselves, and their children. Let their children enjoy these special fun days. They do not last forever. Yes, I know, that means I am likely going to be making the trips, but I am okay with that if that is how they build their own traditions.

I’m “Gonna Miss This”

It is inevitable.  It is something parents have to go through.  A child turning18.

Over the years, it has gone unnoticed by my daughters how many photos I have taken of them over their childhood.  It is safe to say, thousands.  They definitely notice now, and get teenage-level annoyed as I attempt yet another photo.  I try to explain to them, that I feel bad, as there are not many pictures of me with my parents to reflect on.  I want these pictures for them in the future.  And for me right now.

I spend a lot of my time, looking over time.  Time from when each daughter was placed into my arms to today.  I do this mainly in between visits with them, not being able to see them every day.

I realize, just because my daughter is turning 18, becoming an adult, she is always going to be my daughter.  I get that.  But right now, the world is not ready, or worthy of a child with such a beautiful and kind heart.  By the same token, the world does need someone like her, now, more than ever.

I have been celebrating with her this week, and she will turn 18 next week with her mother.  The next time I see her, she will be my adult child.  Gone are the days of reading bedtime stories, amusement rides, and lots of giggles being shared.  Now I have to hope that I have done all I can as a father to teach her the important things that will help her in life, from relationships, to careers, to money management, to being happy.

As a DJ, I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons doing weddings, and playing songs for Fathers and the brides, and annual Daddy/Daughter Dances.  And during each, I had the opportunity to play songs that would forever last in each and every dad’s heart as they heard it, and danced with their daughter.  As I look through the photos of my daughters, this soundtrack plays with an endless loop.  I love both of my daughters to the ends of this earth.  And as one becomes an adult, I am going to cling on to my other teen, for as long as I can.

So, I would like to share some special lyrics I have heard over the years.

Trace Adkins – “You’re Gonna Miss This”

“You’re gonna miss this.  You’re gonna want this back.
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.
These are some good times.  So take a good look around.
You may not know it now.  But you’re gonna miss this.”

Thomas Rhett – “Remember You Young”

“And hey, babies, crawling on the carpet, no, you won’t be that little for long.
One day, you’ll move away, but you’re still gonna stay this innocent after you’re gone.
‘Cause no matter how much time goes by, and no matter how much we grow up
For worse or for better, from now ’til forever, I’ll always remember you young.”
Alabama – “Never Be One”
“No. you’ll never be one again.  The two’s are tumbling on in.
Daddy’s little girl is growing up in the world.  You’ll never be one again.”
Tim McGraw – “My Little Girl”
“You’re beautiful, baby, from the outside in.  Chase your dreams, but always know the road that’ll lead you home again.
Go on, take on this whole world, but to me you know you’ll always be my little girl.”
Peter Cetera (of Chicago) – “Apple Of Your Daddy’s Eye”
“If I had my way, time would stand still.  You’d stay as sweet as you are.
But time waits for no one.  It never will.  Your gonna leave me soon enough.
I’m just sad ’cause you’re growing up.  Held you in my arms so tight.
I’d never forget the best years of my life.”
Al Martino – “Daddy’s Little Girl”
“You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold, you’re daddy’s little girl to have and hold.
A precious gem is what you are, you’re daddy’s bright and shining star.”
Darius Rucker – “It Won’t Be Like This For Long”
“It wont be like this for long, one day soon that little girl is gonna be All grown up and gone.
Yeah this phase is gonna fly by, he’s trying to hold on, it won’t be like this for long.”
John Berry – “How Much Do You Love Me?”
“Children grow and years go by, moms and dads get grey.
Little girls get married and give their dinosaurs away.
They’ll live their grown up lives and call their daddies now and then.
And from a thousand miles away I’ll hear her on the stairs again,
“How much do you love me?”  “How much do you really care?”
I touched heart, spread my wings and said, “All the way to there”.”
Steve Kirwin – “My Little Girl”

“You wrapped me ’round your finger, your smile made me melt.
I wished so many times I would’ve told you what I felt.
From your first steps to sweet sixteen, the rush of memories feels like a dream.

I see the woman in you, but for my whole life through, you’ll always be my little girl.”

Happy birthday to my “ting ting”.

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