Last night, I went to another child's practice. It was a 2-hour thing, so I took my other children, one of whom has just turned 1.
There was a father there who made eyes at this baby for quite some time. He played peek-a-boo and other games with him, and had him thoroughly entertained... for a while. Then the baby decided he didn't want to sit on my lap any more. He wanted to be down, exploring.
He started fussing, and the father who'd been playing with him, offered to hold him. I gladly accepted. This father must have played with my baby for an hour and a half! He got down on the baby's level and really played. I don't mean like a parent sort of plays with someone else's child. I mean like a buddy plays with a friend (if you can say that at a 1-year old's age!) He had him crawling around, picking the clover, crawling to the fence, checking out the other kids, playing with the keys. They did, went, saw, crawled, sat, clapped, "talked" and laughed. They covered some territory.
I remember sitting there and thinking how grateful I was to have someone so into having fun with my child. And I was grateful to have a moment to just be by myself for a bit, which doesn't happen much in my household.
I also remember thinking about some people that I know. They have several kids. The mom and dad both work. And I never see the parents really interact with their kids. Oh, they do things for and with them. But there's not much actual interaction between the parents and the kids. The go from here to there together, but the parents are always chatting with other adults, to the point that they don't really even watch their kids when other adults are around. Now I don't know this, but it's almost like they truly love their kids, but don't really want to spend any of their time connecting with them.
I looked back at this father who was playing with my baby. Now he obviously loves kids, and he really knows how to interact -- to really connect -- with at least 1 that I know of!
But I also know that he's an excellent father to his own kids. He's fun, he smiles a lot, but serious when he has to be, he takes things as they come, and he doesn't let the little things bother him. (He didn't have a bit of concern that his work slacks were incredibly dirty; it was all part of the way it was supposed to be.)
What a great example he is to other parents, and probably even more importantly, to his own kids. (What do you think the odds are that his kids will end up adopting some of the ways that they've seen from their own father when it's their turn?)
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