Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Making Fires and Using Sharp Tools

For the last 14 years, I have been in dad mode daily. I have co-parented as a freelance artist who is married to a freelance writer. I worked many late nights as everyone was sleeping, and in the early days changed diapers and got the baby bottles warmed to feed the little people.

This weekend my wife was away visiting her father who is passing away from cancer - blessings to everyone! I stayed home with the kids who are now basically teenagers - 2 girls. I have been aware that my time as dad is coming to a close. I should say a certain phase of my being a dad is ending. The best way to describe it is where the girls are beginning to go/grow. They are moving into a place where dad's don't go, where dad's can't go, they are going into the world of young women.

I am turning them over to their mom, to the social and hormone world of girls, shopping, fashion, bras, emotions, and make-up.

I will still and always be dad.

Over the weekend I helped them start a fire and use sharp tools. The younger one wanted to make a fire outside in our fire pit - sure go for it! She started to ask questions, someone recently called them "dumb" questions. How much wood, how much paper, etc... She has made plenty of fires. I invited her to answer these questions for herself through direct experience. She doesn't like when I do this but I know I will do her a dis-service if I tell her step by step how to do it. I was near by and did offer my suggestions when I saw that it would benefit her and the learning process and her becoming independant, confident, and self reliant.

The older one was working on a science project. I set her up with an matte knife, steel ruler, cardboard, and gave her a cutting careful with a sharp tool lesson and let her go at it. Very cool.

I am also asking them to each make a meal per week, and check this out.... my new idea of not having to remind them "every day" to practice their guitar. Over the week they have 6 slots of 15 minutes to practice to fill up. If they do that they can use technology next week (computers, ipods, ect..), if not, you get the picture. This week is the trail, so far they have failed miserably.

"The Art of Being A Dad"
130 Tips, Tools, Tricks of the Trade

1. Whole Start. Before you conceive or soon afterwards, get out into nature by yourself. Spend some time alone, take a road trip, a walk. Imagine that you are taking care of business and connecting with something deeper, wider, and greater than yourself. Ask the powers that be to have healthy kids, ask to be a great dad, ask for help because you will definitely need it later.

2. Celebrate becoming a dad. Do something special for yourself to celebrate becoming a dad. Use the time when baby is inside mom in a significant way. It may appear that all the work is happening inside mom while she is pregnant, but there is a great deal happening inside of you too.

3. Feel connected. Do something to help you feel connected to your baby while they are still in mom’s belly. I lit a candle and kept one burning the entire time of our pregnancy as a way for me to symbolically hold the light for my baby and feel connected.

4. Be the ground at the birth. Both mom and baby need you to be fully present during the birth. Breathe slowly, feel your feet on the floor, keep your eyes open, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

5. Don’t take it personally. You may feel ignored or not needed during the intensity of labor. Trust that everyone is doing what they need to do and your job is to support and do what your partner needs you to do.

6. Who are they? If you pay attention as your child is born you may be able to get a sense of who they are. And any good stories you gather then you will be able to tell to your kids for the rest of their lives.

7. Not about you. Helpful hint: The next few years are NOT going to be about you. Most of the core bonding happens with mom and baby. Your time will come later when it’s you that they want and need.

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