June 20, 2021
My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’ –Harmon Killebrew
As Father’s Day approaches I have really enjoyed recalling times when my dad played with me and my siblings. When he came home from work sometimes we would beg him to turn us upside-down to walk on the ceiling, or sit on his foot and walk around to give us a ride. He would send us into giggling fits with his tickles and wrestle around on the living room floor. Whatever the game, it was spontaneous and silly, and we loved it tremendously.
I notice a lot of fathers that are good at playing with their kids like this. I see them slipping back into their youth and joining in the impromptu fun. There is something innate in fathers to be physical and rough house, but they also find joy through humor and language play. (Clearly the root of bad dad jokes!) My husband’s squirrelly side certainly shows up as he engages in joking and teasing with our sons. He has a special connection with our youngest, who practically came out of the womb knowing how to dish out jokes and “read” humor.
Great spontaneous play requires us to forget ourselves and drop the business for a bit of time. These playful dads, through their roughhousing or humor, simply get down and connect in a very fun and loving way. All agendas and adult concerns are set aside while their child comes first. And it does not matter so much what they are playing, the social-emotional connection runs deep and endures.
It is such a blessing to a child (even an adult child) to have a solid and intimate relationship with their father. Even when a dad isn’t the playful type, receiving loving attention builds confidence and self worth. I am grateful that my sons now have two fathers to connect with through play- their dad and my own. Moving in with my parents reminded me of just how playful my dad can be. So often he joins my sons’ goofy behavior. There have even been multiple occasions when I’m about to call them out and then he jumps in to play. What can I do then? I shake my head and chuckle. Dads shape who we are. I want my boys to get every joyful and loving moment they can with both the fathers in our house.
Happy Father’s Day to all!