As Father’s Day approaches and my five daughters are busy gluing sparkly bits to paper in the shape of his head, I realize that I gave birth to my husband’s playgroup rather than his children. Surrounded by elastic hair bands and High School Musical posters, he has entered a land that most men shuffle nervously out of or break into a cold sweat. He takes everything in stride. Every princess tea party, all fairy wands stuck in his underwear drawer for safekeeping, even the pearly pink lip gloss our nine year old daughter slips into his pocket before he goes to work – just in case he needs it. He is the thorn among our roses and he revels in it. I had no idea, however, he was grooming them to take over the world until I saw how he was teaching them to deal with boys. “Tell them they’re great – then eat all of their tater tots and smile. You’ll get away with it every time.” I’m happy to see that my subtle influence wasn’t lost on him after all.
There are certain aspects in his role as father to our Devil’s Brood that I’ve noticed as a running theme in our family:
- Butts are funny. I discovered this not on my own but as an outsider to the jokes my husband has with our daughters. Who knew that a crack would inspire so many to giggle outrageously when flashed peeking from a diaper or worse yet an interrupted moment in the bathroom. His skill at tooting the alphabet has endeared himself to the neighborhood children but I fear we’ll have to move once the girls hit the teenage years and they’re known as the Farting Five. Once, when our third daughter was nearly four years old, she was helping me give her father a backrub. I sat on his bottom and rubbed his back, gently cracking his spine and easing the tension from his muscles. Wynter lovingly joined me by sitting on the back of his head, concentrating on helping rub his shoulders so intently that she didn’t notice when she farted directly in his ear and trapped him there by her babyish bulk. He no longer asks for backrubs.
- When did tickling become a contact sport? It will start out innocently enough with one of the girls sitting next to him on the couch reading when he is overcome with the crazy desire to separate the child’s skin from their bones with a frenzy of fingers. Her anguished (?) cries bring in the troops and he is soon covered in little girls all screaming for him to let their sister go or ELSE! He can never let a challenge go unmatched and dives for the nearest body part to torture with the Claw of Doom, his hand outstretched and reaching for armpits to tickle. Drowning in a sea of pink dresses, he gasps for air as they pound him with tiny fists and poke fingers in his ears and up his nose. One by one they fall to the floor only to climb on him again and yell their fierce battle cry, “Set my sister FREEEEE!”
- Not being an overly athletic person myself, I’m shocked to discover my girls are jocks. They must get it from their father who had hidden talents; it certainly never appeared while dating otherwise the whole “I have a boo boo from basketball” episode wouldn’t have occurred. My husband decided to coach our eldest daughter’s Middle School volleyball team this fall. He did the fatherly thing and picked all of her friends from the lineup at tryouts instead of choosing those who could actually tell volleyball from a Volkswagen. Each practice, he would patiently work with the girls as they hurled balls at each other, chatted about braces and how to get away with gummy worms and showed them that kneepads belonged on their legs and not as bra-stuffers. At every game, he’d start them off with the team yell, “Vol-ley-Girls! Vol-ley-Girls!! Volley-ohwhatever…” though he’d be the only person loud enough to hear because they’d have already walked off. He ended the season coming in a rousing 13th and vowed that next year, if they won the championship he’d wear the kneepads where God intended them – front and center.
Somewhere between the delivery room and bringing home their first child, men go through the strangest change. They become more than what they left for the hospital with. In that brief time, they choose to become the men their wives already knew existed and their fate is sealed with the baby’s first breath. To become a father takes an instant but to be a daddy requires a lifetime. My girls lucked out even if he does fart on occasion.