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.
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:
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….
p.s. – Here’s a word search I made for my readers…
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
Time: 15 min – 1 hr
Cost: Cost of equipment ($10 – $50)
Age: 3 – 80
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.
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.
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.
“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….
What’s your daughter reading? Seriously, think about that. What is she currently reading?
She might be at such a young age that it’s really irrelevant. There are bears, princesses, and you have to find 4 hiding goldfish. That’s about it. Sure, the plot line is a little thin, but she asks you to read it over and over and over. It’s good bonding time and you’re raising a little reader. Good for you, Dad.
But what happens when she’s older and she’s making decisions on what to read on her own? Some experts have voiced their opinions on how young women could perceive relationships based upon fantasized stories. I’ve already addressed my distaste for all things Twilight, but that was what I first believed to be bottom of the barrel as it came to content.
I was wrong. Do you know if your daughter is reading Fifty Shades of Gray? You should. Look, I haven’t read it, can almost guarantee I won’t read it, and definitely won’t be listening to it on my commute (it could make a traffic jam awkward). But your daughter might want to read it. That’s dangerous stuff, right there. It’s being lauded in the media and lifted up as edgy. But a teenage girl reading that is going to warp her sense of relationships. Face it, you don’t want your daughter involved in that in real life.
Look, depressed vampires and belligerent werewolves are one thing. You don’t need to worry about her ACTUALLY bringing home one of those. Yeah, maybe a few introductions will be with someone that’s tatted up and looks like they tripped on a tackle box, but they’re not going to make you part of the living undead. Rest easy there because you shouldn’t have to break that one to your daughter.
But the representation of what’s normal in relationships and physical relationships; you have to talk to her about that. So many dads look at a situation like that and ostrich up. “Too much drama”, they say. “I can’t talk to her” or “That’s her mom’s job” are two other common answers. Seriously, you need to get over that and get ready for that conversation. I’ve said it before, if you want your daughter to be able to talk to you about anything, you should be willing to talk to her about anything.
Yeah, it’s going to be uncomfortable and it’s not going to be fun. It’s going to be a conversation both you and her remember for the rest of your lives. And that’s why it’s so important. As my friend Dale says, “That conversation just might stop her from having sex with a drug addict.” That’s nothing to bring up during your speech on her wedding day, but it’s true. If she’s going to read fiction, she needs to know what should be fiction to her. Just like she’s not still trying to take off on that broom after reading Harry Potter. And don’t pull the technicalities of Universal Studios on me.
Yes, there will always be those things out there that we wish our daughters weren’t exposed to. I guess Twilight’s no worse than those Harlequinn novels my mother-in-law reads, but that’s another blog post. But just because she is into something you don’t understand, doesn’t mean you stop being her dad and that you stop helping her understand the world around her. It means you double-down, get serious about parenting, and be there for her.
Thanks for reading and thanks for being a dad….