Parenting Blog

On Finally Feeling Like A Good Dad

Our TV is almost never on. It sits upon a recently stained Ikea buffet, angled slightly and extending a thumb’s length off the edge. It’s a 42″ semi-reflective black mirror for 23 1/2 hours a day, on average.

When the television is on, it’s the manicured green grass of European football pitches (or the sometimes artificial surfaces of MLS stadia) we’re staring at for 90 minutes plus stoppage time, at a time. Or it’s the Great British Baking Show (Bake-Off), but we’ll exhaust those old episodes soon enough. Either way, it’s usually something English.

Unlike the baking, the footy hasn’t provided the impetus to actively do what it is we passively observe for hours on end. In short, my kids have shown exactly zero interest in playing the beautiful game that dominates my entire life and our family’s home entertainment set-up.

This was true until last week when the tween said she wanted to kick about in the yard.

This was my chance.

I flew over to Five Below and threw down some cash for a pair of soccer balls, a fully inflated elaborately designed one I knew she’d love the vector graphic design of and a red & white size 5 with the England flag on it that had lost a bit of air sitting there in the bin for however long. I figured that softer ball might sting less should she or her sis take a kick to the shin, chest or face.

$10 plus tax, that was my investment in what may end up a weekend whim.

No matter if they never want to play soccer in the yard with their dad again, that $10.60 helped me feel like a good dad for the first time in a very long time.

We spent hours passing to each other in a sloppy FC Barcelona 2-touch triangle formation.

The beauty of a well-executed dummy, on purpose or not, was discussed.

I demonstrated how to let the ball run across their body onto their stronger foot.

I taught my girls how to properly throw the ball in from the touch line, how to cushion the ball for a fine 1st touch, and how a strong #9 will often play with her back to goal, holding up the ball to allow teammates to join the play on the wings.

We ran plays, we crossed the ball into the invisible box, we scored goals through the open wooden gates of our weathered old backyard fence, we fell over, we picked ourselves back up and dusted grass from our shins, we smiled and we kept going.

It was glorious, absolutely glorious. Ray Hudson might have called it magisterial. Arlo White would have had to resist the urge to deem it unbelievable.

I never felt more like a good dad than I did this past week; finally, a good dad who’s phone was nowhere near him, a dad who didn’t take a single photo of what we were doing, a dad who didn’t stop to post a single comment anywhere on social media while we were doing it or after we were done, a dad who for once wasn’t a busy writer constructing descriptive tweets or crafting story ideas in his head.

I was finally just a dad, a good dad, who was busy being in love with being with his daughters. A good dad who was 100% present there in the yard, beneath a blue sky, laughing at how bad we are at soccer but never once allowing our lack of technical ability to derail the massive amounts of fun we each were having out there together on Friday night, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

I pushed myself way too hard. I didn’t stretch enough, or at all. I hurt my hamstrings and hyper-extended my right knee, but I didn’t care one little bit.

I still ran, I still cut, I still was out there with them playing soccer. I would have stayed out there all day, all night, waiting for them to be the one to call quits on the games, no matter if I shredded a hammy, broke my ankle into a million pieces, or suffered a nasty head injury.

I was going to stay out there with my daughters, playing, laughing, teaching for as long as they wanted to be out there with me, their dad, their good dad. Finally.

Flickr photo by Jazmin Oteo.

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  1. What I have observed, you have been a super Dad, now
    just a little more active. Don’t ever doubt yourself!!

  2. That’s awesome! I had a similar experience this weekend. I went on a father/son adventure to Toronto with my son and after a 4 hour drive, 2 hours walking around T.O., a crazy Uber ride and a 3 hour game, we got back to our hotel room at 10:15pm and he asked if we could play mini sticks, so we did, and he was so happy. It’s the little things that kids will remember.

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