Wednesday nights were date night with Daddy. (That is until schedules changed and Wednesdays were replaced by Fridays.) Each week one of us four kids had a night with Daddy where we could do whatever we wished, within reason of course.
As we grew older, Wednesdays involved more costly activities like going to Knotts Berry Farm or Speed Zone. But early on, Wednesdays were simple: roasting marshmallows over a fire in the backyard, rounding up the other siblings to play ball tag or have a pillow fight, getting frozen yogurt at the Twin Palms Plaza, going to the park, purchasing a new item from Motts Miniatures for my dollhouse, seeing Harriet The Spy, rock climbing, eating at My Thai, going to the pet store to purchase new apparatus for my hamster, or taking an overnight camping trip out to the desert.
These nights were special because my dad made us feel special. I could do whatever I wanted. We didn’t have to worry about so and so not liking it or not wanting to go. These date nights weren’t about the others. They were about us as individuals.
I’m sure my dad did numerous activities that he wasn’t supper excited about, but my dad is king of making dull activities exciting. He hasn’t stopped this either, but now I get to watch on the sidelines.
He has Lee cling to his shin, and then he bounces him up and down. He flies him around the room. My boy’s mouth is wide open in a laughing smile as he makes passes at whoever is in the room. When Lee is in sight, my dad brightens. He drops to the ground to chase or roll or tickle. Lee squeals as he holds a hand up to his face, kneading the air to indicate that he wants to be chased again. Again. Again! AGAIN! Childhood is made of this.
And now I understand my dad even more as I see Philip shoulder the responsibilities and cares of fatherhood. Phil gets up extra early each morning to be home in time for dinner. He drives really slowly up the driveway in case Lee pops out unexpectedly. He does great Lee-boy impressions: the shoulders-up-elbows-out run, the pronunciation of bean-bean (green bean), wose (rose), and chess (yes). He bends over to let Lee, who is riding in his baby backpack, smell plants. And holds Lee upside-down so he can walk on the ceiling. They pull weeds in the front yard together. And run laps around the Ginkgo tree out front.
Philip protects me against Lee’s crawling, crashing ways while I’m nursing Rose. He enforces my word when I ask Lee to do something. He takes Rose to burp her after I'm finished feeding her. He has taken her when she was wailing too. He watches how I mother and learns new techniques himself. He is teachable. He is inventive. He is a man. I’ll prove it to you. Just today he showed Lee how when you squeeze the Play Dough through the tube it looks like poop. And when you drop the Play Dough on the kitchen floor it falls like poop. Yes, he is a man. He is the father.