Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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What I Love About Being a Dad

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I love when Tristan (my six-year-old son) and Norah (my four-year-old daughter) walk into the living room, Tristan in Spiderman Slippers and Norah in Disney Princess Slippers, and announce that we are going to have a slipper party. I put on my fur-lined moccasins and we dance on the smooth kitchen floor to the Pandora Radio Elmo station.

I love when Tristan and I play Spiderman. I am always Venom. Tristan is always the hero. He leaps from the sofa, arms spread wide, and I catch him, and we fall to the floor. Then I ask how he got so strong. “When I got big,” Tristan says.

And I love that when I am weak, and beaten, and tied up in Spiderman’s webbing, Fee-Fee the Wonder Norah always comes to my aid. She grips my shoulders with small soft hands, her blond pigtails dusting my face. With her embrace I am rejuvenated and ready to keep fighting. I tell her I was saved by the power of “Norah Loves.” 

I have a tickle problem. And I love that my kids have started to try to tickle me. Unfortunately for them, I am not ticklish. But I play along anyway, laughing and telling them that they are “great ticklers.” They always smile with satisfaction when I say that.

When I sit on the floor, cross-legged, Tristan climbs up my back, grunting, working his small angled toes into my skin, and then sits between my shoulders and slides down my spine. “Daddy,” he says, “I just slide down your back.” And as painful as it is for his hands to clasp the skin between my neck and collarbone, for his toes to find grip between my ribs, there is also a soothing chill. A heavenly feeling. Mormons call this “the sweet spirit of children.” Others might call it the joys of being a dad. I don’t know what to call it, but I love this simple pleasure.

Fee-Fee the Wonder Norah
I love that when I approach Mel with a sinister smile she calls for her “body guard” and Tristan comes running in the room, strikes me with his little fists, and tugs at my clothing while crying, “Leave Mommy alone!”

I love that before going to sleep Norah looks at me with a sly gummy smile and insists on giving me one of her signature “jumping hugs,” which, more or less, is where she attempts to tackle me.

I love snuggle time.

I am totally Tickling Tristan in this Photo
I love that Tristan and Norah don’t think less of me for walking around in my underwear, not shaving my face, driving an old pickup with a dented bumper, being a writing nerd, telling them no, and so on. They seem to love me simply because I am their dad. At this tender age their love for me is unconditional. I wonder how much longer this will last…

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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University.