Father's Day is a holiday of sorts that can be enjoyed, appreciated and even celebrated from many different perspectives. I'm now well into my seventh year of being a dad, but it certainly never grows old to have my little girl show me some love. I know that she loves me and I consider myself lucky in that she isn't afraid to show it. She is 9 years old, and as one of her friends so aptly put it on the playground last week, "Jasmine, you know you could be in grade 7! Look at you!"
Indeed, my little girl is quite mature for her age in regards to her height, but what I really appreciate about Jasmine is her unwillingness to be influenced by others around her. She still likes to kiss goodbye in the morning, she likes to give dad plenty of hugs, and if I am really lucky, she still likes to hold my hand. Walking in the mall yesterday on the way to find a gift for a friend of hers, she took my hand to walk along. On any outing we take, I will often hold Jasmine's hand as we are walk, but on most of these occasions, it will be on my initiative. She doesn't object, but when it's her choice it means so much more. She was floating on cloud nine after her best soccer game of the season, but when she took my hand to walk with me, I could feel the love and the old softy warmed up considerably on the inside. I think I am beginning to really notice these little things as she nears the age where many start moving away from the parents emotionally. Here is hoping that both Sheila and I continue to recieve these small gestures from Jasmine that can really have a great impact on us as parents, providing key reminders about how important a role we play in her life.
As I contemplate a time when Jasmine no longer wants to express her love for me so outwardly and blatantly, I need only to look to my son to realize that I have many more years of this type of joy to come. When Asher wakes in the morning and starts his day, he thinks of 2 people. When he cries in his crib, wanting for all the world to be picked up and placed on the floor, he is thinking only of Sheila and I. This morning, being the loving son that he is, he wanted to see dad off to work on this important holiday. I leave the house at 0615, and Asher is usually awake. I pulled open the bathroom door, and there was his smiling face, 8 little chicklets exposed for dear old dad. He shows pure joy when he sees us in the morning, and he gives you the impression that the only thing on his mind while being upset in his crib was the thought of being with mom and dad to start the day. Of course, he also wants to run around the house, hide in his little cubby hole, find his mom's shoes to walk around in, take his potty from his room to wherever (it's used as a stool by him at this point), and angle for any and all edibles he can get his hands on, but most of all he wants to see us. This, and his getting upset when I leave the room are the 2 things he does that pull at my heart more then any other. Sheila and I mean the world to Asher, and he is unafraid to let us know that. Despite the sleep deprivation his 6 AM smiles come with, there is nothing more refreshing then his smiling and giggling to start the day. Don't stop being you little Ashooey man.
For me, Father's Day gives me time to pause and reflect on the significant impact my dad has had on my life. At the age of 28, it has been nearly 10 years since I lived on a permanent basis with my parents, and it has taken me nearly that entire 10 years to truly appreciate what my mom and dad did for me. Nearly everything I do during a typical day has been influenced by my dad, from my rediscovered love of reading, to my love affair with all things sports, to my memory for all things unimportant and I wouldn't have it any other way. If my dad's frugality and ability to save money hadn't worn off on me, Sheila and I would never have had the opportunity to buy or own home. Dad has an incredible knack for being grammatically correct, and my abilities pale in comparison, but I appreciate his influencing my desire to get everything "just right". If you catch a spelling error in this blog, it's likely a typing mistake as I always care too much to let things slide and I have dad to thank for that. I can't begin to imagine how different my life would be if my father was a beer swilling, quick to anger type who showed indifference towards his children. As my siblings and I grew up, my father dedicated nearly every waking minute to bettering our lives.
I have found myself telling others recently about my dad coaching 4 soccer teams in the same season, something he did for a number of years. For 2 months every spring dad was busy on Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon with soccer games that he wasn't playing in. Not to mention that when Erin and I started refereeing games as well, he was there to drive us to and from, with nary a request for anything in return. I started playing soccer when I was old enough to walk, and at age 4 was part of a team for the first time. My dad created a program for 4 and 5 year olds to play, as at the time they were too young to play in the youth leagues. As a teenager, I was good enough to enjoy playing on the "all-star team", representing Quesnel as the best of my age group. My dad was there again as the coach, organizing extra tournaments for the team, and taking numerous road trips with a bunch of teenagers he likely didn't always enjoy. He wanted to see his son succeed, something that I never truly appreciated. My love affair with soccer continues, and Jasmine smiles every time I tell her I have played soccer for 25 years. I was first on skates when I was 2 years old, and my dad took me skating regularly, despite it not being a favorite pastime of his. He knew I loved it, and that was what mattered to him. When I was old enough to play organized hockey, my dad was there to help, even jumping in as an assistant coach a few seasons. This year I returned to hockey for the first time in 10 years, and thanks to my dad getting me started at such a young age, I was very proud to find out that I still "had it". In grade 4, when I was old enough to play volleyball at the school, my dad was there once again as the coach of the team. Despite the build I was genetically blessed with, I took a shine to volleyball and I believe part of that was due to dad's love of the game as well. My dad coaxed about as much volleyball talent out of me as was possible from someone who topped out at 5 foot 7 inches, who was not a natural setter. Dad also was involved at the elementary school as a track and field coach, specializing in long jump and triple jump. I have no idea how he got involved, as he was never a jumper himself as far as I know, but I can still remember him demonstrating the technique for the triple jump, and the exasperation he would display when many of the kids just didn't get it. I was involved in track and field as well, but was never particularly gifted at it. Nonetheless, I found my way to the district meets each year, often in the triple jump event. The shortest kid in the class had no business in the triple jump as length of stride and leg strength were the keys to success, but my dad coaxed everything he could out of me, and I managed to best my classmates a few years and earn my day off of school to attend the meet. Later, in my teen years I was able to pass on my love of golf to my dad, reversing the roles and being to mentor instead of the mentee. I wasn't nearly as successful a coach as my dad had been, and my dad's golf skills never did develop, but the time together was always enjoyable.
I am truly grateful for the positive influence my dad has had on my life. As I get older, and my life comes into perspective, I can see what having a positive role model guiding my youth did for me. I worry that I am not doing my best with my children, but then I realize that it isn't about being a perfect dad, but more about just being dad. Some children do not have that, and I am blessed to have had to chance to recieve that mentorship, and now to pass it on myself. In parting, take this day to relax dad, you really deserve it. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you, but I am needed at my own home where two great kids call me "dad".