When Daddy Comes Home

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“Daddy’s home!” — a distant echo from a time when my children were overjoyed to see me come home after a long day at the office. They were young then and, like their mom, no doubt happy to have someone different to interact with for a while.

boyjumping

I miss that time. Dragging my kids, one on each leg, another around my waist, another on my back, until we all fell to the ground. Yes sir! Dad’s coming home was special — for all of us.

Over the years, their ecstatic greetings, the running and the jumping were replaced with a significantly less exuberant “Hi, Dad” being called out from another room while eyes remained transfixed on a video game. Even though I know they must leave childish ways behind, the more uninhibited greeting is one I’d rather they had kept.

When I think about it, the view from the other side may not be that much different. Long ago, a hero walked through the door every night to enter their world as a horse, a tickle monster or a boogey man. Today’s hero doesn’t know how to operate an Xbox controller, can’t solve their homework problems and too often finds things not as they should be. The trash didn’t get taken out. The snowboards are double parked in the middle of the garage. Today’s hero brings more than himself home — he comes with an agenda of things castle occupants forgot to attend to. To them, the return of the hero is less exciting as well.

So a number of years ago we started a new habit. We called it a rule because some habits are easier to start that way. The “First Four Minute Rule” is based on the concept that the first four minutes of any interaction set the tone for the rest of the time together. The idea is that at least for the first four minutes of any encounter, we enter the other person’s world, asking about them and refraining from expressing what we might want from them. “Hey, Dad, can you take me to the store?” is replaced with “Hi, Dad. How was your day?” For Dad’s part, an unfed dog, undone chore, or any other minor annoyance can wait a little longer. It makes the entire evening a lot more enjoyable for everyone. It’s a little like throwing yourself into the arms of the other person. Daddy’s home!

SOUND OFF: What ideas have worked for you to make your arrival home more positive?


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One Response to “When Daddy Comes Home”

  1. Mike Pickle Says:

    When they were much younger, I would come in after a long day of class and work, pooped. I would take my tie off, pull my shirttail out, take of my shoes, and lie down in the floor. This was about all the energy I had. The kids did not seem to mind as long as I was there for them and with them. For about an hour I would let them sit on me, crawl over me, tell me about their day, etc. Gini would be fixing dinner and by the time she had it ready, this 30 min. playtime with the kids would relax and reenergize me. I still love this memory.

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