MY SON'S FIST punched the sky and a wide smile spread across his face. We had just been granted standby seats to Seattle on the next flight. We jumped with joy down the jetway exchanging high fives. The boys weekend in Seattle was going to happen!
As the jet thundered down the runway and the plane was quickly enveloped in clouds, my thoughts turned to how my partner (very trusting) was supportive of me and our 4-year old son going on a trip like this, just him and me. I appreciated the trust put in me as a capable father to survive this experience while also having fun.
I wasn't always Mr. Capable Dad, no, I remember a time just over four years ago when I was tasked with putting on our first offspring’s first diaper - I attempted to put it on backwards! Now, as a father of two children, I feel more secure in my abilities. This comfort has come from getting my fingers covered in poop, being screamed at, hit, and just devoting that everyday attention to our boys and their needs.
Yes, I was definitely ready to take my boy to his first NFL game.
Just two guys in the city having a good time...
Our son has been interested in football since we began exposing him to television and his father’s love for the game at 1 ½ years old. Before he was two he could identify all 32 teams. By age three he knew the premier quarterback names. He is a football fan!
On location, in Seattle, it was great to expose him to some other aspects of the game not seen on television - like cheering with like-minded fans (he's a big Green Bay Packers fan, the Seahawks' opponent last weekend). Of course he was sporting his team gear and it was a lot of fun to watch him receive nods, broad smiles, fist bumps, high fives, statements of approval and fans hanging out of cars to get his attention with: Go Pack! Many of the women in his life are not football fans so it was also very exciting for him to see almost just as many women fans at this event as men.
A little pre-game, tailgating fun...
We had a great four days together participating in planned activities and unforeseen challenges. Our hotel room was not ready although we needed down time and rest. A train was delayed due to an accident led to unforeseen waiting time and a teaching moment about patience. I forgot tickets in the hotel room that delayed our arrival to a scheduled event that now seems inconsequential. A “slight hydraulic leak” (I love Alaska Air’s honesty) slightly delayed our return home. These are the moments that make travel unpredictable and also exciting. These are also the moments that can prove to be challenging when traveling (alone) with children. I feel fortunate that we have provided our son the baseline of flexibility and as an experienced father I could make these hiccups easier by providing distractions. Walking around surveying our city surroundings, reading books, making up games with what we had on hand, or just engaging in simple conversations about what was happening made these moments pass. These skills to entertain a small child are now reactionary to my position as a father because I now have experience as my proving grounds.
Worn out after an exciting weekend with dad...
Attention and thoughtful care by fathers is what our children need to grow and thrive. Dads, get involved in your children’s lives in every way that you can. This will provide trust and security with your offspring that can only grow in the future. Yes, you will make mistakes that are necessary to learn and grow as a father. These experiences will also gain trust with your partner that you can handle whatever challenges the family is faced with.
Spending alone time with your kids is a win-win-win endeavour - even if the Packers do end up losing.