A New Years event

I’ve written before about dads and daughters sharing birthday, which I think is pretty cool.  I think we share so many things with our daughters that every single one of them is special, really.  But it’s pretty cool when you share a birthday, come on.  It’s even cooler if it falls on a specific day, like New Years?

Where she got the hat, I don’t know…

So this papa and his little princess are never going to have a normal New Years party, that’s for sure.  If it wasn’t already awkward having to have a cake next to the champagne or having to sing Happy Birthday after Alde Lang Syne, now you have to do it twice.  And just think about getting invited to their New Year’s party.  Bring a noise maker and a present, I guess.  All those people kissing just on account of these two?  Where does it end?

THAT! THAT IS WHERE IT STOPS!

Regardless, I think it’s special.  Not only does this dad and daughter have a story that tops everyone else at the New Year’s party, outside an astronaut, but they’ll treasure that for years.  Every ball drop is like a countdown to their special bond; that one thing that no one can take away from them.  Sure, they may live miles apart at some time, be on other sides of the ocean, or be too old to eat that slice of cake together, but they’ll always share that moment.

Do you have a moment like that with your daughter?  Maybe it’s that first walk outside when the weather is above 60 degrees?  Maybe it’s that traditional eggnog while decorating a tree?  Maybe it’s a daddy-daughter date (shameless plug).  What is it for YOU and YOUR daughter?

Thanks for reading and thanks for being a dad…

-Scott-

Daddy-Daughter Word Search

Your daughter is a puzzle.  That much, you’ve figured out.  One second she’s happy and giggly, the next she’s upset how her shirt feels on her waist.  You buy toy after toy only to have her play with the box.  And if you could even keep count of the number of rocks she’s brought in to the house, you could tile your back patio.  Your daughter is a puzzle.

Don’t ask

Why not take that to a literal form?  She’s a puzzle, but she’s unique.  She’s quite like you…and her mom.  She exhibits so many qualities that you just don’t see in other kids.  She finds the extraordinary in the ordinary.  She finds laughter in the most unexpected of places.  Those are a few to start with.  Make a word search out of it.

The people over at Discovery have a really slick program that will let you customize a word search using whatever terms you want and make it whatever size you want.  If you want to communicate how you feel about your daughter in a fun and interactive way, congrats, you found it.  Check it out.

When you make her word search, think of those singular words that describe your daughter.  There could be hundreds and that’s okay, or there could be just a few (also okay).  Pick words that communicate those things YOU see in her.  How about words that give her a sense of who she WILL be?  Don’t just put “brown eyes” or “plays”, dig deep.  Here’s a list that probably fits everyone’s daughter:

fun

beautiful

inquisitive

horses

ballet

biologist

laughter

loved

mature

sister

friend

daughter

But it’s also a puzzle, so there is still some brain work being done here.  It’s a win-win, really.  You communicate a message that builds her self-esteem, she confirms that message by completing the word search.  Every word she finds gets locked in to her brain as “That’s what my dad thinks of me”.  Those messages are so key as she grows and the world tells her different.  Be louder than the world.

Thanks for reading and thanks for being a dad….

-Scott-

p.s. – Here’s a word search I made for my readers…

Daddy-Daughter Date

B O C Y T E S U N R I S E V D L M S B D 
J H V U U C I O U K B W T D A B H M H Q 
V J D Y Q T W K N R Q S C X D O O Z Z C 
N L X W A Z P H R O M Y X G D Y K B T W 
L T X H Z A L Y P N G P N G Y O H B C K 
Z U V S T S S E Q R Y I H D P G N I Q N 
P E M A G D R A O B T E T A D J W X Y K 
L I R B B A C T S A M X L S P Q E U R V 
O Q V O H I N J K H B N E R V U Y B E B 
D A V Z A T N S D T F R M Q C P I S C E 
P W O Q Q R T F Z U Z T Z I B Q Y V O M 
R F V D C B E G K V L P G C N Y O G R C 
P W V G R D X T E P A Z R J P B I Y G R 
S Z R U S C W N H C S D E S G H U B S M 
O S B Y W D B M V G I M N R T X A D M O 
R G B M G Y A P I R U H T Y O E K L H P 
M V M P F W X Q H D R A T V H I N S K G 
R I V J D Q Z B E S R L D V M G L N Z V 
Y A G D X T Q T C K D Y T G T B U A I Q 
X Y R P K N A U M V U P D X V Z W E R S 

BOARDGAME
DADDY
DATE
DAUGHTER
GROCERY
ICE
OPERA
SKATING
SUNRISE
TENNIS

Daddy-Daughter Date #16 – Play Tennis

Time: 15 min – 1 hr

Cost: Cost of equipment ($10 – $50)

Recurrence: Whenever

Age: 3 – 80

Impact: =}

Let’s say you don’t have a super athletic daughter or you yourself are not coordinated in any way.  Tennis is a good entry for you then.  All you need are two rackets and a little fuzzy ball.  Dependent on age, you might only need one racket, as you’ll very likely be pitching to her.  And by pitch, hopefully you understand you’ll be bouncing the ball her way.  The nice part about tennis is that when they’re little, it can just be about teaching them to make contact with the ball.  When they get older, it can turn in to a real tennis match.

She’s about to crush you

There should be some tennis courts you can use in your local community.  A majority of them are maintained by the public works departments or area schools.  Those are very often wide open for use and free.  If you belong to a gym, there may be courts for rental.  Either way, you’ll want to at least plan ahead and check schedules, if possible, to make sure there isn’t some sort of tournament or high school meet going on.

Don’t rule out the possibility of a good brick wall.  If you can find a flat area like that with enough pavement to run around and play, that’s a great place to practice.  You and your daughter can practice making contact, aiming shots, or can even play an impromptu “doubles match”.  Some tennis courts have a wall installed over the chain link fence, but you might find a usable wall at an area school.  Just remember that the wall is a very good tennis player and is a fierce competitor.  It does not give up.

Relentless

Again, if you’re not athletic, that’s okay.  She may be extremely athletic and tennis is just not something your body can do.  If that’s the case, go with her to watch her practice or toss her serves.  Hey, rent one of those serving machines and run that for her.  Just try and hold back from using it as a Gatling gun (Oh come on, you were thinking about it)  Either way, you can still spend time with her and give her an opportunity to do the sport if you’re not directly on the other end of the court.

It’s like combining Call of Duty and Grand Slam Tennis

“Some one-on-one time that I try to do with my daughters is I try to center on a more physical or “athletic” activity.  For example, there’s a pretty big park called “Wheeler Park” about 3/4 mile away from our house. So I’ll take just the younger 2 girls to the playground there, or I’ll take just the older 2 girls there to play tennis for 45 minutes.

Frankly, my daughters are still developing as players, so it’s usually me just hitting groundstrokes from one side and my daughters on the other side trying to send the balls back.  Admittedly though, I’m a HUGE sports fan, so anything I can do with my daughters in the area of sports/physical activity, I try to promote it.  I did play tennis in high school. Held my own as a solid doubles player, but I’m no Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.

 I’m sort of passing it down to them, but it’s definitely not important for them to do sports.  Don’t get me wrong, when they do like a sport and have some aptitude in it, it’s very easy for me to share in that.  However, my larger goal in this area is to promote healthy physical activity and a lifetime of fitness…and I think organized sports can be 1 tool out of many to accomplish that.

At the end of the journey, you won’t say “boy, i wished i worked x more hours in my life”….but one might say, “i wish i spent more time with my wife / daughters / friends / whatever”. Russ C.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being a dad….

The Board Game Family stops by

This week, I’ll shut my pie hole and let another dad talk about one on one time with his daughter.  Here’s Trent from The Board Game Family talking a little bit about one of his favorite Daddy-Daughter Dates.

-Scott-

Daddy-Daughter dates are fantastic. Getting out with your daughter is terrific one-on-one time.

But no one says you have to go out to have a date. In our house, a lot of our Daddy-Daughter time is spent around a table – a game table to be precise.

We love play board games and card games in our family. We’ve found that board games offer a great way to spend quality face-to-face time with each other.

With 3 boys and 1 girl in our family, Brooke gets that special daughter attention and she loves it. She turns 12 at the end of the summer and is at a great age for doing things together. Since her interests are expanding (so is her time with friends) it’s important to still make time to spend with her. So pulling a game off the shelf to play together is a great way to keep our relationship strong.

She’s also surprised me this last year in the types of board games she’s wanted to play with me. For the most part she’s enjoyed games on the lighter side without a lot of strategy. Games that have more elements of luck have been fun to her because they level the playing field. And board games that have fun themes, like food and animals, or let you act silly are particularly appealing to her.

So I was in for a surprise when I pulled out a new game for a grand adventure with my 3 sons – Defenders of the Realm. It’s a cooperative board game set in a fantasy world with wizards, elves, dwarves, rangers, and evil foes to vanquish.

But lo and behold, the one that loved it right from the start was Brooke!

Brooke has never been interested in anything fantasy themed in the past. Fantasy themed games hold no interest for her and the same has been true for any other dice rolling combat type games. So my assumption from the very beginning was that she’d have no interest in Defenders of the Realm. Thus, my only thoughts were centered on playing it with my boys.

But when I set up the game for the first time, Brooke walked in to see what I was up to. Then she noticed that there were a couple female character roles and asked me what the game was about. Next thing I know, she’d picked a character card and pulled up a chair.

So we went through what she could do on her turn, what her special skills were and we were off and rolling – literally. And of course right from the start she was knocking down minions left and right and worrying about not rolling high enough numbers. And as the evil generals started advancing she was totally into the game – concerned that we wouldn’t get to them in time.

Although our first play of the game ended in defeat for us, Brooke was anxiously asking when we’d get to play it again. Of course, I don’t think she would have ever hit that level of interest if I hadn’t been playing board games with her since she was little.

I’ve always felt that games provided a great way to connect with kids (and to stay young ourselves). Getting down on the floor to play a game with them that they’re interested in is time well spent – even
if it does involve princesses and tiaras.

In fact, we think board games are such a good way for parents to build relationships with their children that we started a website dedicated to that very thing.

We post video and written reviews of fun family board games, card games, and party games. The unique aspect of our video reviews is that it’s the kids doing the reviews. They’re the ones talking about the games so parents can see what their own kids might enjoy. And our most prolific game reviewer is our daughter Brooke.

If you’d like to see what board games are her favorites, take a look at our game reviews list where you can click on her name at the top of the table to sort the reviews by her rating. (You’ll see that she has quite a long list of 5 out of 5 and 4.5 out of 5.)

So next time you’re looking for a Daddy-Daugher Date idea, grab a game and have some fun.

- Trent

www.TheBoardGameFamily.com

P.S. And if you haven’t tried a cooperative board game before (where you work together as a team to defeat the game), we’ve got a great recommendation for you that’s great with daughters – Forbidden
Island.

Daddy-Daughter Date #41 – Chuck E. Cheese

Time: 1-2 hours
Cost: $
Recurrence: Once or twice a year
Age: 2-10
Impact: :D

There’s probably going to be some big hubbub about me referencing the actual establishment’s name, but I see it as free advertising for them.  And with ALL the readers I have out there, I think they’re the winners in the end, really.

“We’ll take it” – CEC Entertainment, Inc

Chuck E. Cheese is another iconic kid destination that even single people or older couples understand is strictly a kids restaurant.  There is no other way around it.  It’s all fun and games, even when someone gets hurt.  No….not really.  But where else can you find that many games for kids and adults and still get some place to put your stuff down and eat?

A few comments on the food.  It’s not that great.  If you can, I would suggest eating ahead of time.  The pizzas are an absolute miracle within a culture that has seemingly tried to improve this dish in so many ways.  It’s actually found a way to made it worse, yet still charge a premium.  That’s brand loyalty and recognition, my friends.  If you want to have authentic Chuck E. Cheese pizza, you can make it at home.  Take a tortilla and leave it out on the counter for 2 days.  After it’s good and stale, take a ketchup packet and spread it evenly across the surface of your tortilla.  To top it off, find the most off-brand mozzarella flavored gum-based product and make a fine coating upon your ketchup.  Microwave for thirty second and viola: a $16 pizza.  I’m not a huge eater, but I could eat two of these on my own.  And the salad bar isn’t going to be much a smorgasbord either.  If you like a lot of different colors in your salad, you’re not going to get it as most of the vegetables are just a slight hue off of white, from the lettuce to the tomatoes and the carrots.  So, try and minimize the damage and the recurrent hunger pains and eat something to fill you up before you go.  Oh, you’ll still get the pizza for your daughter, but she likes that stuff.

Relevant meme is relevant

On to the games.  I would chat with your daughter ahead of time as to the whole “ticket” scam.  You play one game of skee ball and out come a few tickets.  She then runs the tickets over to the Prize Table only to have you talk her through how many tickets she needs to get some of the prizes.  In some cases, it’s going to take a few months worth of skee ball.  A good route would be to talk through what she really wants to “win”, if there is anything at all.  If there isn’t, AWESOME!  But when she does want to win something, do some quick math with her to talk through how she is going to earn it.  She might have to pony up some of her own money to get her to that stuffed Chuck E. Cheese.  Work it out ahead of time, and that will save you all the tantrums in the world.

But play some of the actual video games with her too.  Most likely, she’s going to need your help to pull some of them off.   Sure, she could play on her own, but playing a Big Buck Hunter or motorcycle game with Dad helping out is so much fun to her.  If she’s big enough, play a little air hockey and compete a bit.  If she gets frustrated, don’t make it a big deal, just move on to the next game.  And who gets too irritated playing air hockey?  Remember, this isn’t college, so you don’t need to bring that intensity.  Visually and verbally taunting your daughter after your win is probably poor tact, even in an establishment with as snooty of an air as Chuck E. Cheese.  That was sarcasm.

Exactly.

Lastly, don’t forget the big mouse himself and his band of animatronic friends.  Weird, yes, but not to a kid.  When that teenager dressed up as Chuck E. comes out of those doors, just suspend the believe for a bit and let your daughter high five it up.  Yes, that costume has not been washed since 1998 and is probably crawling with some form of bird lice, but she’s excited to see that character in uniform.  Unless there is a birthday party taking up the whole area, sit down for a few minutes from the action to watch the robots in action.  The music isn’t the best, but that’s another thing they haven’t changed since 1998.

You have to admit that there are far too many similarities with these guys….

When you’re done with the tokens, you’re done.  That’s the best way to leave on a good note and with as little push back as possible.  The whole thing is an absolute sensory overload with the lights, food, games, screaming kids, and music.  Your daughter is probably going to be ready for break to.  So when she says, “Dad, can we go?” GO.  Leave on that high note that way she’ll want to come back with you.  And if she wants to come back to THAT, it’s not about that place, it’s about YOU.

DID IT! with David B.

“Chuck E. Cheese is just one of those dates that just has to be done.  But then, you’ve got to lose her while you’re in there!  It was crazy.  She doesn’t remember now; she was only three.  I was scared to death.  

We’re going down to see Micheal (her brother) for the first time because he was born in the hospital.  So we went to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner, and I LOST HER. IN CHUCK E. CHEESE.  For like, 15 to 20 minutes, I could not find her. It was not a good moment!  I mean, it’s totally a fun idea, but not the way I did it.

It’s funny because we had a great time, but that’s all I can remember.  Like I said, she doesn’t remember and her memories of Chuck E. Cheese are all of games and prizes.  So I guess I didn’t screw up too bad.”

Thanks for reading and thanks for being a dad…

-Scott-

Daddy-Daughter Date #20: Grocery Shop

Time: 1-2 hours
Cost: Your grocery budget
Recurrence: weekly
Age: infant – 12
Impact: =)

Grocery shopping may not seem too much like a Daddy Daughter Date, but we’ve already seen a few dates on this blog that are day to day activities that can be turned in to a special time for dads and their daughters.  Chances are, you probably need some groceries at some point.  Chances are that she would be willing to go along with you.  Both of you may even earn brownie points with mom by taking care of the shopping and giving her a little bit of break from child-care (unless you have multiples).  Grab your list, a few reusable grocery bags, and your daughter to go do some shopping.

She's got a Groupon for those Cocoa Pebbles

Your daughter’s age is going to make a big difference in your experience here.  I think taking an infant is a fine thing as a date, as you can still talk to her and interact with her as you’re shopping.  As the age levels go up, your daughter can take more and more responsibility during the shopping trip.  The critical element is having a game plan ahead of time WITH your daughter before you enter the store.  If it’s her first time there, walk through the rules of the grocery store (no running, shouting, or GRABBING ANYTHING Dad DOESN’T TELL YOU TO, etc).  If it’s not her first time, still walk through your expectations for her in the store (see above).

"Lisa, where are you honey?"

Plan out how your daughter is going to help.  Obviously, you want to gauge your daughter’s sense of responsibility first.  Maybe she’s just going to push the cart, maybe she’ll be finding different foods in a different aisle.  If your daughter is the appropriate age, going an aisle or two over with a specific item to find is a good self-esteem builder, but it should be something she has seen before and knows how to locate easily.  Don’t ask her to find a new version of the crunchy peanut butter with 50% reduced fat, no sodium, and gives 5% back to the rain forests.

While inside the store, talk through the choices you’re making.  Show her how you buy on value or buy on quality.  Your daughter, even at a young age, will be able to understand differences.  She knows when you have an haven’t shaved, correct?  She’ll be able to pick up why you’re buying whole grain bread versus regular wheat.  Talk about prices and have a calculator to keep a running total BEFORE you get to the counter.  That is an amazing way for her to learn about money and sticking to your budgeted amount for groceries.  She’ll learn to make choices with her money, when the time comes.  Once you get to the checkout line, have your daughter see how close you came.

"Why did you spend $40 on Cocoa Pebbles? I thought you had a Groupon..."

At the end of the trip, make sure to have a few bags or items light enough that she can carry.  This helps her realize that she’s part of the team and can make a contribution.  It might be just a grocery run, but she’ll see it as a time with Dad where she felt needed.

DID IT! with Adam from Fodder4Fathers
“My wife and I both work, but every weekend, my daughter and I go shopping.  So, it just me walking down the aisles with my daughter.   So I’m walking with the cart, but she’s right in front of me, so no one can actually see her.  Often times, it will look a ghost is just pushing the cart, because I’m walking behind it, she’s pushing it, but I don’t have my hands on it.  I’ll get strange looks because I’m throwing things in the cart, and she’s banging in to stuff and the carts going all over.

My favorite part of that is just watching the eyes of all the moms, just staring, like, “Why doesn’t my husband do that?”  People that are from older generations just watch you and say, “You’re doing such and amazing job!”, but I’m like “How is this any different from a mom doing something like this?” “

“Dads and daughters have a different relationship than boys.  That one on one time is really the only way to get her over Mommy-itis.  Like, if it’s the three of us together, it’s almost impossible to get my daughter’s full attention.  Being a dad has totally changed my life.  My life is still about me, but now I get so much joy from doing things from her. I’m the one that wakes her up the morning; I’m the one that takes her to daycare; I’m the one singing kid songs out loud, when no one else can see her in the back seat.  I’m the one that makes her dinner.  Being a dad, it’s just a great joy, especially with a daughter.  “ Adam @Fodder4Fathers

Thanks for being a dad….

-Scott-

Daddy-Daughter Date #37 – Rock Concert

Time: 3 – 4 hours
Cost:  $$$
Recurrence:  Once a year
Age: 14-25
Impact: =D

As your daughter ages, her tastes are going to change and like you at this age, she going to want to go to an extremely loud and wild rock concert.  This idea might make you be feeling pride (“my rocker-girl is all grown up”) or might have you feeling chest pains.  Either way, the rock concert date is going to test your metal (total pun intended) as a parent and also as chaperone.  I say chaperone in that you very well might have a portion of this date fending off would-be suitors.  Remember, its a Daddy-Daughter Date and that means it’s you and her – that’s it.  I’m going to level with you: this is a hard date to pull off because of the age and event.  But, you can still do it.  If you’ve really put yourself out there and legitimately shown that you’re interested in this time with her, you might just get the opportunity to go with her.  Let’s talk through how not to blow it.

BIG DISCLAIMER: Don’t argue about how your music from your generation was better than hers.  I didn’t think you were going to go this route, but I really needed to get that out.  Let’s face it.  The groups you liked have now released a second set of their greatest hits, which were the ones that weren’t even hits to begin with.  Most of the original band members have moved on (sometimes to the OTHER SIDE), so the fact of the matter is, your music is probably moot to her.  On the off-shot chance you’re going to see a band that you remember and she likes, well, lucky you!

I.E. Don't be this guy.

The first task you have is deciding whether this is going to be a single concert or a concert series.  I’d suggest for your sanity sake, to avoid the Lollapalooza or the Warped Tour this time, and just focus on something somewhat local that is a single concert.  If this is her first one, its going to be an absolute overload on the senses, so going all out probably wouldn’t be the best bet.  Unless she’s in her later twenties and can handle a few days hanging with just you and a bunch of mud people; to each her own, I guess.  Once you decide on the venue and the actual concert, use whatever your favorite method for procuring tickets.  Yes, you could wait in line or start pounding a website at 3 a.m., plan on getting tickets off Craigslist or from a scalper, or just go the standard route and pay TicketMaster face value.  As with all tickets, where you sit is going to determine how much you pay.  And as with any rock concert, it’s going to be loud in a lot of places.  Being close isn’t always the best.

Yup, that's pretty far back

As you’re prepping for the concert, think of some needed equipment.  Ear plugs, for instance, are an absolute essential.  Unless you’re already sporting the hearing aid, which in that case, just unplug those babies for the evening.  But in all honesty, you want your daughter to keep her hearing (man do I sound old) and they make so many options for ear plugs that allow you to hear the music, but not burst an ear drum.  Both of you should have a phone, just in case you get separated, and work out where to meet BEFORE entering the venue.

Once in, find your seats, but don’t be expecting to sit in them long.  I’d plan on standing the entire concert, given that most people do.  You might be able to sit during the opening act, which could be ANYTHING, fyi.  You could be watching a lesser known band, a comedian, or a juggler on a unicycle.  Aren’t you glad you paid top dollar?  I’d save all your enthusiasm for the main act.  If this is someone you’re pumped to see, that won’t be hard, but if it’s a band she likes, it might be.

Another fine point: you should know the music you’re about to hear for a couple of different reasons.  #1, just to connect with your daughter and be inside her world.  #2, to be cognizant of the message that’s within side that song as lyrics can be quite deep, artistic, or in some cases down right scary.  #3, to know what you just got yourself in to.  Going back to point #2, you need to be sure the lyrics are appropriate for her age and you’re going to have to be willing to talk through some of that dark prose with her.  She is a complicated creature, just like her dad, so be ready to discuss that message.  At this age, she does understand the deeper root of those lyrics.

And she wants you to sing along with them.

Do not be surprised if you’re identifying the smell of a certain medical supplement that gets smoked.  You’re at a concert.  This shouldn’t be that hard to figure out.  But again, part of this date is about spending one on one time with your daughter and part of it is showing her how to have a good time without making detrimental choices.  If your daughter is following this band, she’s also following the sub-culture attached to it.  She’ll have some of the same interests and thoughts as the group-think that follows wherever the pack leads.  You have a chance to show her another path.

It might be tougher for a few of you....

At the end of the concert, think about getting a concert shirt.  Sure, you could have bought one online, but it’s part of the souvenir, really.  Every time she puts on that shirt, she’ll be remembering her dad right next to her.  Fifteen years later, when she pulls it out of a closet for something to do yard work in, she’ll remember again.  That’s an amazing legacy to leave.

Super-Dad Tip: If you know anyone in the band, it’d be cool to get an autograph.  Just saying.

DID IT! by Brian B.

“My older daughter and I, we do a lot of concerts.  So, like, she and I went and saw John Mayer in February.  She’s been to more concerts, like, under the age of 12 than I went to than when I was through the age of twenty.  “

“And they actually hang out with me at the concerts.  We haven’t seen any heavy metal bands, but bands like Train, Counting Crows, Goo-Goo Dolls.  We went to Summerfest two times this year.  My daughter is even starting to collec ticket stubs.  She won’t let me buy electronic tickets to concerts.  She wants the physical copy, so she can put them all on her board.  It’s silly, but I think it’s really neat, because it says something.  “

“The bigger thing is not a huge week-long activities like a vacation, that make the difference.  It’s little “aha” moments with her that you just say, “That was really cool”.  The concerts are great like that.  My daughter is like, “Huh.  My dad’s not such a jerk.”  And we haven’t done a big week long family vacation out to the Grand Canyon or something, because we don’t have to.  We’re already connecting.”   

Thanks for being a dad….

-Scott-