Parenting Blog

File Under: The Things Dads Will Do For Their Kids

Right, yeah, it’s not all dads, I know, but the ones I know, and me, we will stop short of just about nothing to do things for our kids, to make them smile, provide experiences that move them, and memories worth holding on to.

My oldest, she of 17 (for a few more minutes at least), has never made friends with ease. Social anxiety has constructed walls and her unfiltered exuberance of the things she adores has the tendency to repel would-be friends who don’t share or know of or have the ability to see and appreciate her kind of all encompassing enthusiasm. This, among other traits, is something her and I share. Our zest is deemed weird, often, and so we find ourselves alone more often than not.

But something happened online during pandemic year 2.

She made a friend, and they have been joined at the digital hip by an adoration of all things Louis Tomlinson.

They met on ‘Louis Twitter’, chatted live and on video, and soon were speaking in some capacity or another almost daily. It was adorable to witness, to hear, and hear about. They couldn’t wait to meet, despite my kid’s anxiety about that hopeful meeting. Problem was that this new friend lives in Canada, just above New York state and, well, COVID rules threw up another wall to friendship, until those rules were tweaked and Americans could head north of the border. So her and I quickly made plans to make the 18 hour roundtrip drive. I booked a cheap hotel for Labor Day weekend and holed up writing while she went into Toronto, played at an amusement park, hung out until midnight, ate Beavertails, went out to dinners, came back to our room after I was asleep, giddy as I’d ever seen or heard her. It was, no lie or hyperbole, the greatest thing this dad of that girl could see and hear in that particular moment.

When they had met out front of our hotel about an hour after we pulled in, they hugged and jumped up and down, separated, and then repeated those same actions. At the end of our time up there, they hugged so tightly in her front yard that I wouldn’t have been surprised if some of the friend’s graphic t-shirt had been heat transferred to my kid’s sweater. Yeah, that was a stellar 48 hours in Ontario, worth every hour of the commute and every Canadian dollar spent to make it happen.

So yesterday. My daughters and I were over my mom’s house, just farting around in the living room after breakfast while I watched a football match in the morning. My oldest kid sorta half joked that her friend was trying to convince, if the prices were right-ish, her mom to let her fly down to Philadelphia this week to see the One Direction musician in concert at The Met. Now, I was scheduled and stoked to go with her after her lil’ sis backed out. I even had my Doncaster kit ready for Louis. But I’d give up my ticket in a New York minute if her friend could join her.

Me in my Doncaster Rovers kit as my girls and I watched the online Louis Tomlinson concert in December 2020

Always one up for the challenge of sourcing a good travel deal, I set to work on my phone only to find that the prices were, 48 hours out from departure, not right-ish in the least. But then I searched American Air reward travel and found that a non-stop down on Tuesday afternoon and back on Wednesday evening was a web special 18,000 miles roundtrip. I put it on hold. I told my girl to tell her girl that I’d part with my precious air miles (+ like $60 in taxes) if her mom was on board. She was. (also, real quick, big ass hi-five to this mom who I still have never met, texted, or spoken to)

And then I raced to find a rapid antigen test in her hometown so she could travel here and an affordable rapid NAAT in Pennsylvania so she could travel home. Because COVID is still making travel complicated AF and expensive AF, but not impossible. Not impossible.

It was done and it was all booked and it is happening tomorrow. 24 more hours in person with a friend. A much anticipated Louis Tomlinson concert with a fellow Louis. I only wish I could be there to watch her be happy. But I’ll wait with baited breath for her to call me and tell me all about it later. That’s part of the deal as a dad, as a parent. We can put things in motion, we can build a foundation, we can put them in positions to go, to do, to be, but we can’t always be there in real time with them. But we’ll always be there when they are ready to talk about it all.

In the end, I didn’t have to do too much, honestly. Some keystrokes on my phone, a few ideas, a bit of endeavor, that’s it. Would have done far more if needed because when it comes to making my kids happy and giving them a life worth living, especially during these trying times when mental health struggles are so god damn real and ever-present, 18k American Air miles plus tens of U.S. dollars are a small a price to pay for a massive serotonin boost this visit, that night, the next day, will provide my first born kiddo.

Oh God, what I could’ve become
Don’t know why they put all of this on us when we’re so young
Done a pretty good job dealing with it all
When you’re here, don’t need to say no more
Nothing in the world that I would change it for
Singing something pop-y on the same four chords
Used to worry ’bout it but I don’t no more

Louis Tomlinson “We Made It”

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