Dating and my Daughters

cinderella

 

Basic parental instinct dictates that parents of little girls will do anything to keep them from getting hurt. Paternal instinct goes a bit further. It dictates that fathers of little girls will do anything to keep their daughters from being hurt…by boys. It’s a potential source of conflict that can never be fully resolved because women will never be able to fully conceive of how depraved and single-minded a teenage male is.

It’s going to take a fair amount of self-restraint, but I’m determined to not become a cliche father from a country-western song, sitting on the front porch cleaning his shotgun as junior comes by to pick up my daughter. I can’t promise that he will always be welcomed warmly, but I want my girls to know that I respect their choices and give them the opportunity to find a good guy without dad messing things up.  I need to step back and let them learn from their mistakes. When I was seventeen there were girls that were forbidden by their fathers from associating with me. All it really stopped was them  being honest with their parents. I don’t want that.

So when The Preschooler told me about the new boyfriend she was planning to marry, I winced a little, gave her the “cooties” talk, and let it go. I got his name and did a little digging, but so far the pint-sized romeo has come up clean.

Apparently she has a bit of a jealous streak. She’s been in trouble at school for sticking out her tongue at other girls who talk to him and pushed another little boy when her man tried to spend some time on the playground with his boys. It took some of the cuteness out of the situation and was a sobering reminder of how many more years of boy drama we have in front of us.

So far we’ve been pretty lucky with The Teenager. There have been unrequited crushes and a few fights with other girls, but nothing too major.  When a boyfriend starting getting too handsy last year, she not only immediately kicked him to the curb, but talked to us about it. As a daddy, that’s about as close to a win/win as it gets.

There are times when she can be uncomfortably open about her initial forays into dating, but it’s something her mother and I force ourselves to encourage.  I don’t fool myself into thinking she pays much attention, but if we can advise her on what characteristics to look for in her Prince Charming and which to avoid, it has to at least have a little influence.  Chances are she is going to kiss a lot of frogs before she’s done and from time to time will have her heart broken.

I’ll do my best to keep my instincts in check.

 

 

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Castles and Capt America

I’ll never forget how excited Kayla was the first time I took her to see the “castle.” It was the first time my future wife had entrusted her daughter entirely to my care for a day, and I was determined to make  the most of it. After six months or so of dating, we had finally admitted out loud that we were dating. It was imperative that I be able to prove that I could be “fun”, but also “responsible”, crucial qualities in dating a single mom.

So we spent the day at Foxwoods Resort Casino.  Her mom wasn’t overly impressed when she called to see what we were up to, but the fact is Foxwoods had the best arcade in the state at the time. The Hard Rock Cafe is a pretty cool place to eat for a kid. Plus, it looks like a giant castle.

 

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They also have a pretty neat museum there, which I took her to another day. Over the course of a few years we hit every museum, zoo, arcade, and recreational facility within driving distance. Some places were better than others, but we had fun, and it was important early bonding with the little girl I would eventually consider my daughter.

 

what up

 

Kayla is fifteen now. She has a part time job, a church group, soccer, dance, and two weeks of 4-H camp this summer. We sneak in an occasional lunch when our schedules permit, but it’s a lot harder to find this time than it used to be.

The one thing we still make sure to find the time for is our superhero movies. The release dates are marked on the calender and we set a time and a date. I don’t care for how much it costs to go to the theater nowadays, but there are still some spectacles that just aren’t the same watching at home.

So this past weekend we snuck in an early morning viewing of The Avengers 2. I’m pretty sure our motives have changed some since we first started bonding over X-men and Lord of The Rings. As a fanboy, I was concerned over how they would bring The Vision and Scarlet Witch to the big screen.  Kayla seemed mainly concerned with how much screen time Aaron Taylor-Johnson was going to get as Quicksilver.

It’s not the same as a visit to a real life castle, but a few hours spent in Asgard or the outer reaches of space is pretty cool too.

Stop trying to scare me Internet

Anybody with a Facebook account has by now had the Joey Salads “social experiment” video cross their news feed. I’ll admit that I watched it after the sixth time I saw it shared. It annoyed me. After seeing it shoved in my face a few dozen more times it made me even more annoyed.

For those that haven’t seen it, this Joey Salads character, a guy who apparently makes his living posting pranks on You-Tube and Vine, goes to a park with a cute dog, tells three parents about his “experiment”, and proceeds to lure their children off towards his van, promising them more puppies.  His stated goal being to scare parents into realizing how easy it is for our children to be kidnapped by perverts. The video has now been watched five million times.

My response? Screw you, you childless little punk. I’m a parent. I spend my entire life scared.

I’m scared driving my car to the park. The number one cause of death for children in America is injuries sustained while passengers in cars.

While I’m there I’m scared she’s going to fall off a slide or the monkey bars. My little girl has no fear and often chooses to play with kids several years older than her. Traumatic brain injury is a contributing factor in 30% of injury related deaths in children ages 0-4.

I’m afraid these older children are going to reject her request to play with them and hurt her feelings. I’m afraid she’s going to get sunburned. I’m afraid she’s going to wait too long and pee her pants. I’m afraid she’s going to throw a fit when it’s time to leave.

I talk to my daughter about “stranger danger.” I also talk to her about looking both ways before crossing the street, running with scissors, and making sure her butt is properly wiped.  Since I don’t trust that all these lessons have been fully assimilated into her three year old mind, I wipe her butt for her, keep the scissors out of reach, hold her hand crossing the road, and WATCH her at the park.

Thanks Internet do-gooders, I’ve got this under control.

Approximately 115 children in America are abducted by strangers each YEAR, not the 700 a DAY quoted at the end of the video. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrifying this is for these children and their families. If it isn’t every parent’s worst nightmare, it is pretty close to the top of the list. The sad truth, however, is that the majority of violence perpetrated against children is done by people they know.

Stop trying to scare me, Internet. I’m a parent. Since her birth my life has consisted of two things:

1. Doing everything in my power to keep my daughter safe

2. Being scared I may not always be able to.

 

 

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My Three Moms

 

I’ve always had a very cynical attitude towards the “Hallmark” holidays. Valentine’s Day, Mother and Father’s Day. I always felt that these people should all be properly loved and appreciated all year long. I made the expected phone calls and bought some occasional flowers, but for the most part expected that everyone already knew my feelings towards them.

It’s also been repeatedly pointed out to me that I do a somewhat poor job at making people feel loved and appreciated all year long.  I’m not exactly an affectionate person, either by behavior nor verbiage.  As this is my first Mother’s Day as a blogger, I’m going to use this platform to talk a little bit about the three most important women in my life.

My mother-in-law is the archetype familial matriarch. She is a strong woman with strong beliefs who has guided her family through some rough patches over the years. She is our primary babysitter, but more than that she is the primary confidant for Kayla, somebody that Kayla can go to when she doesn’t feel like talking to her parents. Also, when she feels like talking about her parents. She’s been invaluable to us in so many ways that I don’t know where this family would be without her.

 

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The cliche that you never really appreciate your own parents until you have children of your own is a true one. My mother put up with a massive amount of BS raising two boys but has always been the epitome of self-sacrifice. She has always been there when my brother and I have ever needed her, and that continues now that we are parents ourselves.  My mom is proof that motherhood isn’t a job that ends when the kids grow up and move out. The example she has always set is one that I can only try to emulate as a father.

 

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It would be an understatement to say that my wife and I have a somewhat different relationship now than where we began all those years ago.  The one thing that has stayed constant is that she remains my best friend and the love of my life. We may no longer be partners-in-crime, but our adventures as partners-in-parenting are no less exciting.  I don’t tell her any of this as often as I should, but I’m forever grateful that she came into my life. Our daughters and I are very lucky to have her. She is a fantastic mother, a great wife, and above all, the perfect partner.

 

D And H

 

 

 

Brush Fire – In Kayla’s words

 

Anybody with teenagers knows that communication with them can be trying. Besides the apparent language barrier there seems to be a natural reticence to speaking freely that develops around age fourteen. When a scary moment occurred at our home last week that upset Kayla, I asked her if she would be willing to write about her feelings on the subject.

With her permission, here is our first guest post at ThirstyDaddy:

 

Last Tuesday, a brush fire spread into the woods behind my backyard. My mom noticed it before I did, and at first it didn’t seem quite serious so I called my friend Ally to tell her. Seconds later, her and her mom were running into my front yard. Once I saw my mother, she was panicking and I then realized how serious this actually was.  I tried my hardest not to panic because I had someone over and I needed to make sure Alaina didn’t see anybody all frantic. I needed her to feel safe and know everything was okay.

Soon firemen arrived and I was alone for a second and I broke down. Ally held me as Alaina hugged my legs and told me everything was okay and that the fire won’t catch me because the “fire guys” were here to save us. Phones were blowing up with messages asking if everyone was okay and/or if there was a fire at our house. People started flooding out yard and I couldn’t take it so the three of us went upstairs. Ally and Alaina stayed in Alaina’s room while I checked the fire from my parent’s room. It was terrifying . The fire looked so high and seemed like it stretched on forever. All I could think about were memories that had escaped my mind for years.

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Growing up I had a friend named Isiah who believed I was a vampire because I ran ten times faster than he could, I could pull an all-nighter like a champ, and I could walk on snow without it breaking. We would play in those woods all day, climbing trees and running around and screaming like banshees. In spring, we’d put our feet in the stream (which is luckily still there) I’d play in there myself too when I was a HUGE Hunger Games fan because I’d pretend to be Katniss. My homemade bow and arrows are long gone.

I was then praying that there wasn’t any animals around while everything was burning.

In my panic I needed to call my other best friend Jacob, because he does a wonderful job calming me down, which worked.

Afterwards I went into Alaina’s room and Ally told me that her brother Jake was coming over too. And he came running in.

For the remainder of the time, we all sat in a cuddle group, answering phone and text messages. About thirty minutes later, everyone went home, The result was two acres (I feel that is was more than that) is burned.

I’m just hoping that doesn’t happen again.

-Kayla Todd. 5/6/15

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My thoughts on the matter:

1. I’m glad that everyone was safe.

2.  I wish I’d had a better idea of the severity of the situation and arrived home sooner.

3. I’m proud of Kayla for putting her little sister’s need for comfort ahead of her own.

4. It’s great that Kayla is able to have such close friends in our immediate neighborhood.

5. This was a productive exercise that Kayla seemed to both enjoy and benefit from. I may not always post her thoughts on my blog, but I’ll be using it again in the future.

 

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms