It's Friday, friends. Almost time to take a few days off, and do something fun with your family. Fridays are good, but not only because of the impending weekend. Friday's are made even better because of Fatherhood Friday.
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From the website: Fatherhood Friday is both a day and a growing community of dads and moms sharing stories, ideas, photos and movies with one topic in mind - fatherhood. In a world that seems happy to deliver a message that dads are incapable buffoons, Dad Blogs is committed to changing that perception. The reality is, as we see it, parents today are more aware of parenting and the impact it has on their children and dads everywhere are becoming more active caregivers. If you don't believe me--check out the posts in our archives.
During our recently ended vacation in Orlando, I saw something that I didn't expect to see. This thing hit me so quickly, and so hard, that it took a little time to register... and then I started seeing it all over the place.
It happened at Disney World, in the Fantasy Land section, as I was waiting in the queue with soccergirl, to take a spin on the Magic Teacup ride. While we waited, I saw the parents of little children, settling in to the teacups and staring at their children with maniacal smiles on their faces. I wondered what was going on, and then it dawned on me: These parents were watching to see the joy in their children's eyes as they enjoyed their ride.
It was creepy.
Seriously. It was creepy. It was creepy because of the look of expectation on the faces of some of these otherwise-normal-seeming adults. Look, I am as much about enjoying the enjoyment of my own child. I love it when soccergirl is happy about things. Seeing her happy makes me happy, so I get it.... but this was different. I never sat, paying rapt attention, waiting for the light of joy to be turned on. In this particular instance, while the parent was peering into the child's eyes, the child often stared back as if to say, "I know that you want something mommy/daddy, but I don't know what it is". When the ride was over, some of the parents looked disappointed about the lack of reaction from their children. Disappointed especially since they had still and video cameras at the ready to not only record the magical moment, but to have photographic proof for friends and grandparents that their kid had the BEST. TIME. EVER.
As a parent, I want my children to enjoy themselves. I want them to have fun. I am mindful of the fact that at age 45, my ten year old may find things to be fun that I can only shake my head at. Such is life. What I try to do is present opportunities to enjoy things, rather than make her do things with the intent that she MUST ENJOY THEM. Make sense? I hope so, because this is all sort of just flowing out of me as I prepare to teach a class, and then make a presentation to a Senator whose name I won't drop.
Anyway... in my mind, we, as parents can make opportunities for our kids to have fun, but we can't make them have fun, nor can we have fun FOR them. Further, and most important they shouldn't be expected to have fun for US.