It’s a Dad Thing

I RECENTLY TOOK THE TWINS TO A LARGE PUBLIC PARK WHEN WE WERE ON HOLIDAY IN NEW ZEALAND. IT FEATURED A GIGANTIC FLYING FOX THAT LOOKED TOO HIGH AND FAST FOR MY GIRLS BUT OF COURSE THAT DIDN’T STOP THEM.

What did stop them was when they got off, not being able to pull the zipline back because of the steepness of the hill section. You would have to be almost six foot tall to do so.

So of course I jumped up and pulled the saddle up the incline to a waiting line of eight or nine where the next child was also quite small. So I jogged after her and carted it back along the entire run and then up the hill. And again. And again. For the next twenty minutes I went back and forth. For the children. Then on about my 50th journey another father appeared at the base of the hill.

With just a nod he took the rope from me and went up the hill. I did the long flat and he did the hill. Not long after a third father appeared and, once again with just a nod, made himself part of the support crew for the children.

Ten minutes later another father relieved me and for the next hour or so we swapped in and out of the production line. All without a single spoken word. It was just a responsibility. Something to be done so we simply did it. A lot of women complain about their husbands not talking but sometimes you don’t need to talk but just to understand.

It’s a dad thing.

They mightn’t be engaging the same way you do, but most dads are bonding with their child almost osmotically. It’s not about words: it’s just about presence (not to be confused with presents although sometimes that’s part of the equation too). It’s just being there when they want to show him they can now stand on the roundabout. And for a possible ensuing trip to the emergency room. It’s even more pronounced with daughters where men sometimes struggle to understand the situation but persevere regardless. Like when her heart is broken and he doesn’t know what to say so he just holds her.

It’s grumbling about her wearing make-up then beaming about how beautiful she is even if she looks like the Joker. It’s letting go of the two-wheel bike despite saying they wouldn’t. It’s about suffering silently under a pretty hat at the tea party. About not showing the hurt the first time she declares she no longer wants to do that activity with her dad anymore because it’s for babies and/or boys.

Men don’t use words like women do or how women want. But don’t mistake a silence for indifference. Most men – real men – would do anything for their children. It mightn’t come with a running commentary or outward emotion but when their child is laughing there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.

And if their kid needs help, he’ll be there. Maybe not always with words but there regardless.

It truly is a dad thing.

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