Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Participatory Dad

Hello friends and family,

Allow me to mourn the leaving of Ouma one more time before we move on to brighter days.  One of Layla's birthday gifts was a full set of "body art" tools and materials.  No, these are not tattoos.  At least, not in the Webb house.  It's a tough discussion topic around here because although we have God-loving friends and family and pastors who sport copious amounts of tattoos, neither Kendra nor I have a single one.  I don't want the twins to be judgmental about those who have tattoos.  I also don't condone them because it's not a part of who we are as the 4 Webbs.

I gladly participated in Layla's "body art".  She puts a sticky stencil on my arm, then coats it with glue.  Then sprinkles on whatever color of glitter that comes to mind.  My silver musical notes lasted 6 days!  I had to scrub them off in the shower...  totally worth it to let her give me the only thing a six-year-old has to offer:  her creativity.  I could have just watched across the room and said, "that's nice, sweetie".  But because Layla knows I'm a participatory Dad she invited me into her world knowing I will gladly join her adventures.

Here are a couple of pictures from the lunch with Ouma.  Layla's shirt is spot-on.  She is as cute as a cupcake.

We went to the park across the street from my work.  The playground equipment was completely revamped.  My two monkeys were gymnasts climbing all over the structure.  Of course, I joined them too because what fun would that be to just watch?  This is what I call being a participatory Dad.  This level of parenting is not necessary, but sure makes it much more enjoyable!

This week we hit a milestone in the Webb house.  I walked into the kitchen to find Easton staring in the fridge saying, "I'm hungry, mom."  I froze in my tracks and considered the implications of this moment.  I get to experience 12 more years of this exact scene.  If I have a ground-hog scene for a Dad, it would be this one.  As he grows, our fridge will get more and more use.  Welcome to day 1 of a 12 year journey.

I took the twins to the park.  Easton rode his Y-bike, Layla rolled in her skates, and I rode my bike.  I could have walked, but that's not as involved as a participatory Dad could be. They asked that ride my bike so we could all be on wheels together.  Why not?

We laid in the grass staring up at the clouds while using our imagination to see ducks and trees.  Clouds are rare in Phoenix so we have to make hay while it's sunny, so to speak.  The three of us jolted up as a furry animal ran circles around us.  Once my heart stopped pounding and the little lightning ball of fur stopped, I saw it was just the neighbor's puppy.  Any chance we get to fill the puppy void with other people's dogs is a win for 4 Webbs.

Every morning for the past month when Easton crawls into bed with us at 7:15 am his first topic of conversation is the space shuttle.  He asks, "Are we going to do the next step today?"  " Can I get the parts ready for it?"  He is not obsessed, but just determined.  I am extremely impressed by his tenacity and motivation to stick to this gargantuan project.

It's coming together nicely and looks more like a space shuttle every day.  We have yet to be missing a part, which is miracle considering we are collapsing two scattered sets into one workable finished product.  There is no way Easton could build this by himself.  I knew that going into the project.  But I also knew how much fun we would have together.  A participatory dad is one who not only provides the money and stuff to help a child find his passion, but also is deeply involved in it too.

The weather is perfect this time of year.  I went to the kitchen for breakfast one morning, but something was different.  the noise volume was very low.  I looked out the back door to see the twins waiting patiently for me to join them for dinner.  Homemade pancakes and a fresh juice smoothie?  Yes, please!  It would have been sufficient to give the twins a breakfast treat of eating outside, but that's not enough.  As a participatory dad they put a (tiny) chair there for me because they know I am willing to sit at their table and eat breakfast with them.  They expect me to be involved and that makes me happy to see their preparation.

Lest anyone think it's just about dear old Dad, Kendra is the same as a mother.  It's just that she doesn't take pictures or write blog posts so there aren't as many references to pull from.  This one instance is a prime example for her though.  Layla jumped up in her lap and Kendra showed her how to use the scrunchy thing to do her own pony tail.  I call that enabling or empowering.  Teaching Layla how to do this for herself, by example, is the most effective way to build Layla in the fine young lady she will be.

Forgive me if this seems like bragging about how great I am.  That's not my intention.  There are many dads who are so deeply involved with their kids that they make me look like an absent father.  This isn't about comparison though.  I only have insight into my own family and how we are choosing to use our time.  There are always ways for me to improve, but on many levels I'm content with the prioritization and focus.  It's the little things that mean the most to six-year-olds.

See you Soon!

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