Do What You Remember: Involving Dads in Their Kids’ Lives

So yesterday it was a terrific sunny winter day in Wisconsin.  Because she had never been sledding anywhere but our front yard, we decided to take our 5-year old granddaughter, Alita, to a big kids’ hill.  Her dad, our son, was strong-armed into coming along.  It meant that he had to borrow gloves and a jacket to augment his usual summer/winter/fall hoodie attire.

He was reluctant, initially trying to beg off by saying he had to work extra hours. It’s so curious to me that the things he loved as a boy seem such a stretch for him now. He’s either working or tired.  An old man in a young man’s body.

Anyway, we brought our two plastic sleds to the top of the hill.  At first, she only wanted to push him down the hill.

 Then after a few rounds as a spectator, she decided she was ready.

You can see his joy in the picture.

After doubling up a couple of times with each of us (Dad, Nana, and Grandpa), she said she wanted to go down the hill by herself. Her dad took her over to a small hill to practice.  He made a little practice run for her first and then she took her first ride by herself. 

So after the very successful practice runs (see the happy face), she and her dad took the sled to the top of the big hill while the grandparents winced.  Too soon.  She has no clue how to steer. It’s good we’re out of earshot because he was doing what dads are supposed to do.  Assume kids can do stuff.  I wrote about this a while ago in a post called What Good Are Dads?

He waited for traffic to clear — for all the criss-crossing saucers and tubes to get out of the way — and he pushed her.

And she just flew.  Unbelievably fast.  She laid back in the sled and shrieked. 

He ran down the hill after her – seeming to be surprised at how fast she was going but still pretty unexcited about the whole enterprise.  We, of course, were ecstatic that she didn’t suddenly veer 50 feet in the wrong direction and hit the solitary light pole at the base of the hill.  When they walked up the hill, she looked a year older.  More mature. Capable. And really happy.

All this was prelude to the best part.  He set her off on her last run down the hill, stood watching for a minute, then whirled around, grabbed the second sled, took off on a run, flopped on his belly, powered the sled with his hands and sailed right next to her. 

When they turned around and look up the hill, it was only then that he finally cracked a smile.

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