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 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

Fifty Shades of I Don’t Want to Know…

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.

Well, this looks like a good-OHNONONOOOO

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.

Doesn’t look so bad NOW, does it?

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.

Way to go, Dad.

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….

-Scott-

Guest blogging this week

Yes, yes, someone was crazy smart open enough to allow me to guest blog this week.  Since I’m guest blogging, I’m going to have this be the only update for this week.  I really enjoyed being able to write for a different blog, as different perspectives are good in this space.  There are two posts out there based around (what else?) the relationship building between dads and daughters.

Surf on over to Ordinary Parent to check them out.  Here’s part 1 and part 2.  You sort of have to read them in order.  But, to each his own.  Or her own.  Whatever, just go read the posts.

You're looking at the wrong post

Daddy-Daughter Dates will be back next week!  Unless I feel guilty enough to post a Daddy-Daughter Date this week.  Should I?  What say you, Internet?

Thanks for being a dad…

-Scott-

Daddy-Daughter Date #73 – Make a fort

Time: 5-15 minutes to construct, hours of play
Cost:  FREE
Recurrence: Once every 3 months
Age: 0-12
Impact: =D

We’ve all seen our share of Christmas day toys discarded immediately to play with the boxes, and for good reason.  Those boxes are imagination machines, full of nothing but opportunity to create their own universe.  We’ve also seen neighbors and siblings shell out hundreds, if not thousands, on extremely large and expensive playsets for their kids, giving them to opportunity to pretend elaborate adventures on these structures.  Both methods are expensive ends to to the same goal, really.  So, why not just use what you’ve got sitting around and create an all-new play area inside your house?

Making a fort is extremely simple and fun for both you and your daughter.  Granted, if you’re a dad of a teenager, I’d go out for coffee instead of this, but for those with younger kids, this Daddy-Daughter Date can’t be beat.  You’ve probably got all the materials you need right in your house.  Various items can be used, but here are few of the best “building materials”: couch cushions, chairs, stools, large plastic bins, blankets, large pillows, and chip clips.  Round up as many of those items as you can and then pick a spot to construct your masterpiece.

Time to finally use those couches from Pier One

First off, it doesn’t need to be a masterpiece.  You could literally take 4 couch cushions and build a mini-hut for your daughter and she’d love it.  There is just SOMETHING about taking a space and making it look new.  That’s one of the reasons we re-decorate our house and change the colors of the walls.  In this case, you’re taking a room she’s been in hundreds of times and you’re giving her the chance to see it as a completely different space.  Try and find some sort of boundaries to that space, though.  Large couches, chairs, and railings can all be used to set the “boundaries” of the fort.  That will give you some sort of structure to play with.

If you’re going small, just use a few couch cushions for walls and cover the top with a few pillows.  If you’re going large, blankets should be used as the top of the tent.  Here comes the tricky part; unless you have a HUGE Blanket, you might end up having to work some sort of post in the middle to attach multiple blankets together.  That’s where stools or big storage bins can be your ally.  Stack the bins up, as long as they have weight to them, and bring the blankets together.  If the bins don’t have weight, you and your daugthter are going to bring that fort down so fast you won’t have time to grab tissues for her tears.  On the other side of those blankets is where you use the chip clips.  The bigger the blanket, the stronger the clip you’re going to need.  Woodworking clamps work great if you have access to them.

Make a few entrances to the fort, and maybe even a “secret” one.  You can do this my moving couches together in an L shape, while leaving a little gap.  The more ways in and out just add to the fun of the space.  Windows are also a great one to add to the fort, whether you do that with gaps in the blankets or having an open spot between cushions.

Peek a boooo, I see-AAHH! WHO ARE YOU!?!?!

Then play.  You will be blown away by how much she wants to play in that fort.  Old toys suddenly have new life in the fort and reading becomes and absolute treasure in her little hideaway.  But this isn’t just play time for her, it’s for you too.  Pretend alongside her and come up with different adventures that happen around the fort (exploring the jungle, being pirates, surviving the wild west prairie and not dying of dysentery).

Leave the fort up for a few days, playing, but also observing.  This is a time to treasure, where the only cares for your daughter are how many dolls can come to the tea party or how many friends she can invite over to hang out in the fort.  When it’s time for the fort to come down, communicate that ahead of time….DAYS ahead of time.  It’s for the best and have her help you take it down and fold everything up.  She’ll look forward to the next fort you’ll build, which will be completely different from the first one you made.

I'd go more Cape Cod style next time...

Pro-Tip: If this all seems like way too much work, think about setting up a tent inside.  It’s a great fort, a cool place to play for your daughter, and it has windows.  Just be a bit careful when staking it in to your hardwood floors.

Thanks for being a dad…

-Scott-

Take your daughter to a bookstore

Now, this is two weeks away, but I think you should get it on your calendars, Dads.  I’m not always a sentimental guy when it comes to progress.  Technology has opened doors and bridged gaps that many thought were insurmountable.  Progress comes from looking at a problem and finding an innovative way to solve it.  We’ve cured countless diseases, explored the stars and used the power of technology to….make books digital.  Huh?

Yeah, like you could save the land of Fantasia on a Kindle Fire...psshh.

That’s why I love the idea of “Take your Child to a Bookstore”.  It’s on December 3rd and you can read a ton about the concept to maintain those little boutiques that are part of Americana.  Obviously, I have somewhat of an agenda as I want you to take your daughter to the bookstore, if one is in your area.  I think it’s a perfect Daddy-Daughter Date and it’s sharing one of the greatest gifts she’ll treasure forever: reading.

If your daughter’s room is like mine, there are enough books.  If you frequent the library, as my family does, they’ve seen the gambit of books and the written word.  But there is just something different about a bookstore, where they can see it all.  They can sit down for a story hour, or look at ALL the Dora series at once.  More importantly, it’s supporting those local businesses and physically connecting your daughter to the act of reading.

That love of reading might spell your doom, however.

Think about it.  It’s free.  It’s a Daddy-Daughter Date.  It’s simple and there’s a map on the website.  If you go, please let me know how it went.  If you don’t, that’s cool too, and let me know what you did with your daughter that day instead.

Either way, thanks for being a dad….

-Scott-