Are you on the road?

I recently took a 2 month stint commuting across states, which I’ll further write about, but I wanted to find out about “Road Dads”.  You know who you are…the dad that is constantly on an airplane, hotel room, or driving just to bring home the bacon.

People train runs out of St-Stubbville.

Are you a road dad?  Then tell me:

I know how I kept in contact with my girls, but how about you?

I’ll be using your responses on my upcoming blog post.  If you’ve got an awesome tip or idea, shoot it to me or add it in the comments.  Thanks for contributing, and thanks for being a dad….even on the road….

-Scott-

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….

Daddy-Daughter Date #41 – Chuck E. Cheese

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

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-

Stormtrooper Dad photos

I think these pictures are so cool.  They totally warm the heart, especially for the geek in me.  But I think it’s a misconception that the little storm trooper is a boy.  I mean, really, couldn’t that be a girl?  I’m probably stepping in to heresy for the hardcore Star Wars fans.

Awwww......

Here’s the thing, I looked at the pictures and immediately felt a connection to it.  I could see my daughter running up to me, playing with her, and walking with her.  I never even considered that the little one would be a boy.  Of course, I didn’t look at it as myself in a storm trooper costume.  But whatever it is about those pictures, it invokes something in us as dads.

One more B-Wing ride, then off to bed

What do you see?  Other than the obvious figures that you have sitting on top of your monitors, do you see your daughter?

Probably one of the reasons we look at these pictures with such admiration is just the fact that we know they’re little for a small amount of time.  You can’t rewind, you can’t go back.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  On the flip side, maybe we’re just so excited to see fatherhood meets Star Wars other than hacking off your son’s hand, then saving him later from your boss, only to die anyway.  Admit it, George Lucas has some daddy issues.

Look at the anguish on his face

Thanks for looking on the bright side of fatherhood and thanks for being a dad…

-Scott-

Daddy-Daughter Date #35: Broadway Show/Opera

Time: 2-3 hours
Cost:  $$
Recurrence:  Once a year
Age: 7-73
Impact: =D

You’re probably saying to yourself “I don’t want to go to the opera with my spouse, why would I want to go there with my daughter?”  But that’s really a completely different mindset than what the Daddy-Daughter Date concept is about.  It’s about spending time with her in a unique way that creates memories.  What’s more unique than watching a performance on stage filled with acting, music, and a live audience?

Even though I’ve combined the two activities (Broadway show and opera), they are two very distinct experiences.  Operas are often in another language other than English and it’s just singing all the time.  A Broadway show mixes that up a bit so it’s not three hours of powerful voices and orchestras.  Many of the operas are tragedies or tales of love (which finding out can be difficult if its in another language) and can be somewhat trying to follow (again, language barrier here).  Broadway shows range in topic, but most likely will be in English.  There are also so many Broadway shows that you or your daughter probably recognize the stories.  There are Broadway shows about Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, and even Spiderman (hey, if she likes him, why not?).

I can TOTALLY see the strings...

The opera is a good choice if your daughter is of that age where she can appreciate a performance of such caliber.  This may be at the teen or even adult daughter stage.  The key is that you should know whether your daughter is going to be interested in attending or whether you’re setting yourself up for wasting a ton of money on tickets.  I had my daughter sit through a 3 hour opera at the age of 6, as that’s just the sort of child she is.  She LOVED it.  She loved the fancy costumes, the dramatic music, and the grandness of it all.  An opera is going to function a lot like taking your daughter to the symphony in terms of dress and set up.  If you’ve never been and she’s never been, give it a shot.  You might be shocked with how much you enjoy it and then next time your spouse invites you, you’ll shock them with a whole-hearted “YES”.

If it’s a Broadway show you’re after, there are many to choose from.  I would suggest looking for a real production, if possible, and avoid the high school or community productions.  The date you’re taking your daughter on should demand a certain amount of quality, as you’re trying to make this thing REPEATABLE.  If she’s bored or having a terrible time, she’s less likely to want to do it again.  On the flip side, you’re going to pay for that quality.  Regardless, if you want to make the most out of a date at a Broadway show, see a real production of that show.

Robin Hood or Peter Pan? YOU MAKE THE CALL!

You’ll want to check with the performing arts center near you on what shows are coming to town.  On a side note, you’re probably going to have to plan this date a few weeks if not month ahead of time to get tickets.  It’s just like the big game; tickets go fast and then climb in price.  Ask around for what are good shows or what are the latest productions traveling the U.S.  You might have to drive a few miles to get to where a great show is at, but that windshield time can be great conversation time with your daughter.

Before or after the show (I suggest after), there will most likely be merchandise for sale, which always seems like a scam.  Buy her a soundtrack to the performance.  Think of it as a little souvenir; one that she’ll listen to over and over, thinking of that Daddy-Daughter Date.  You want her to remember you through more songs than just Butterfly Kisses or Dance with Cinderella.  You might want to think about getting a copy for yourself.  She shouldn’t be the only one with memories like that.

Does this mean the blog post is over with?

You might not be the artsy type or even like any sort of music that isn’t the Monday Night Football theme, but your daughter is going to love the date even more if so.  She knows you, loves you, and just wants to spend time with you.  If she sees you going outside your normal ways to do something special for her, she’ll always appreciate you for it and return it in spades.

Super-Dad Tip: Rent a limo to go to the performance.  C’mon, how fancy would that be?  Plus, you haven’t ridden in a limo since your wedding so don’t you deserve a little luxury now and then?

Thanks for being a dad….

-Scott-

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