The time spent with my nearly-4-year-old becomes more and more important to me. For whatever reason, I seem to make constant note of it now.
Perhaps that’s a symptom of being a single dad. Or that I incessantly hear from others to “enjoy the time now because it flies by.” That’s a truth I am still learning.
My daughter is a very “scheduled” individual. And, again, part of that is growing up in two different households. If she could write (or had a iPhone) I could very well see her taking down her social, school and grandma schedules throughout the day. She often asks me, multiple times, where we are headed, what we are doing and whom we might see along the way.
On the particular Saturday, her social father had set a rigorous schedule – the Lee’s Summit Farmers Market for pumpkins, Blue Springs Fall Fun Fest and then to New Longview for the art festival. One of those events, in Blue Springs, included the word “carnival.” So, of course, that was the topic of the week leading up to Saturday.
Sept. 13 was an absolutely gorgeous day to be outside doing anything. That I got to spend it with a kiddo that, at the mere mention of games and rides goes berserk, made it even better.
Of course, as with any 3-turning-4-year-old, there are challenges. For her and for me.
Listening in a big crowd is secondary to just darting off and looking at the next shiny, new thing in front of you. Oh to be that age and mesmerized so easily again. I should learn to embrace that rather than be as much of a helicopter dad.
A few minutes (or more like 15 or better) in the bouncy house cures a lot of father-daughter ills, however. Addy went in like a tornado and held her own against the older boys. She even stopped occasionally to press her face against the mesh, call out for my attention, and tell me she loved me. I don’t know how long I get to have those moments with her, but I will take every single one.
A few rides and games of popping balloons with dull darts later, and we were off to our next stop in New Longview.
Taking a child to an art fair is probably not on the top of the list for some parents, but the music and creativity are always something I want to expose Addy to.
Before we could take it in, she spotted the Poppy’s Ice Cream truck. So, three bucks later, she had her chocolate scoop on a cone. As she devoured her treat, A.J. Young was entertaining the sparse crowd with some catchy jams. As soon as the ice cream disappeared, the music took over Addy’s soul.
“Dada, dance with me. Dance with me!”
Her pleas fell on deaf ears for a minute or two. As I was talking to Summit Theatre Group President Ben Martin, I was content with watching Addy dance while the adults sat by and watched. But I couldn’t say no for long.
Addy dragged me to the area in front of the stage and we proceeded to incorporate some of my best moves, twirls, leg kicks and other “dancing” arrangements.
What’s amazing about my daughter, and in watching the other children, was that they simply didn’t care. The music moved them, so they moved back. I just love that about her. Her spirit. Her ability to be carefree.
I began to feel like my irritation with some of the petty things I called her on throughout the day just melt away. How do I balance being a dad, having fun and still parenting with a purpose?
I’m still a work in progress in that regard.
And my Addy, she just loves me unconditionally. She gives me hope that I will always take her hand to dance and always be able to be her protector and her guardian.
Even through the time-outs, stern talks and a few tears, she reaches out to hug me and asks if I am OK.
She gives me hope like no other. Through carnival smiles, public displays of dancing and simple gestures of love.
My Adaline Sophia turns 4 next week. Happy birthday. You’ve given me 2,190 days of of adventure and I can’t wait to see what is to come.