(This has been in my draft bucket for close to a year—since I will keep adding Daddy-Daughter aventures to the blog…I should probably publish this.)
I am the luckiest dad in the world. My daughter enjoys hanging out with me. It is a relationship I take very serious and one that I work each day and literally pray I never take for granted. I admit on occasion – more than I like – I blow it. But I do work hard to make it grow.
Abby is a kid that like her dad lives a life in paradox. One moment she if off with me in the woods building campfires, shooting her BB gun, or directing me towards the next puddle of mud to take our jeep through. The next, she is dancing like a ballerina, dressing up for dinner, or pretending she is a princess.
Little girls are complex.
There have been several things I have done to purposely grow our relationship. I am by no means an expert on raising children, but I have found a few ways to invite her into adventure and chase her heart. I’ll share a few of the things I’ve done to pursue her adventurous heart.
Breakfast. They say its the most important meal of the day. For us it has been the most important meal of our relationship. I started taking her to breakfast on the weekends when she was about six months old. As much as possible, we have gone together for breakfast at least once a week for the past eight years. I have made this a priority for one-on-one time with her- even if it means by-passing my interest such as a good mountain bike ride, a perfect day for hunting, or getting to the ski slopes early. We stop for a rush free meal in the morning. On occasion when she and I do a camping or backpacking trip- the morning we head home is always a morning we stop to fill our tummy’s with pancakes, bacon, and hash browns.
Scale the adventure. Yes today would have been a great day to sneak into my bear hunting site or set up my turkey blind. It was a perfect morning to take my tent out- set it up- and sleep. My bird dog needs training time. Instead- we shot BB guns at pine cones, built a huge bonfire, watched a thunder storm roll in, and ate Cheetos.
I have found that to get her to love adventure it has to be a kid size adventure. I have made the mistake in the past of picking an adventure she was not ready for. Three years ago we were mountain biking Brundage Mountain- a complex system of rugged bike trails. I had her an a trail a bike system.
At 18 months old, Abby started her bike career in a modified trailer I pulled her in when training for mountain bike racing. She had done several bike trips with me on a Trail-Gator system. This ride was different. It started with a trip on a Ski-Lift, taking us to the top of the mountain. Then descending several hundred feet on switchback bike trails with a series of crashes, falls, and near misses- I knew I had gotten us in way over our heads. A ride that normally takes me 20 minutes to do was closely approaching the three hour mark. She had skinned knees, Mom was stressed, I had wounded pride. The only positive memory of the trip was the grasshopper I ate to get her to calm down. From that point on I have taken a closer look at each adventure.
In Full Pursuit
The final thing I will say is pursue her heart at her level. This has been the single most important thing in her life. She wants to know that I am there for her– even when I travel. I make time for her with tools such as Skype and Facetime. At the very least we set up “Talk Time” dates when I’m away. I also have to balance what she wants in her heart. We play together with toy airplanes. Little girls play much different than boys. Where as guys we are about speed and “buzzing” the make shift tower (paper towel roll standing on the table) little girls airplanes talk to each other and have dating relationships. So I have to for-go multiple loops with my P-51 Mustang for going on a a date with a Piper Tri-Pacer.