Dad FIRST.

The weeks between Christmas and the New Year are a welcomed respite from our frenzied lives. (The term, “our,” is me projecting frenzy on you, like it or not.) Most companies take a siesta. Employees generally use the remainder of their allotted days off, or are part of a skeleton crew which, in practice, means they’re off even though they have to be physically present at their work place.

For a lot of folks, myself included, it also means having to watch our children who are off from school. Yes, fellow parents, this is our cross to bear. Which occurs to me is a really sucky way to look at it. Life gets in the way and we have responsibilities, but what could be a better “responsibility?”

The other week, during Christmas break, I took my daughter to see her Babadi (pronounced: Bob-a-Dee) at Babadi’s office. Babadi is my daughter’s colloquial variant*, or enduring infantile babble, of the yiddish word “bubbie” which means grandmother.

Babadi was thrilled as always, and as she should be, to have her granddaughter visit her in the office. She was also thrilled to have her son visit, but again, as it should be, not as much.

She took us around the office, as she usually does, to greet everyone and show off her beautiful granddaughter. As she should. And we get to the last stop on the tour, Howard’s office, and this transpires:

Me: Hey Howard, nice to see you. How’s it going?

Howard: Doing well. How are you doing?

Me: I’m doing GREAT!

Mom: Well… you’re not doing so great.

Thank you?

I knew what my mother wanted to say. She was being a mother. My mother. And I know she just wants for me to be in a more stable position. And it will happen, but it’s a process that takes a little time. Still… I’m doing GREAT. Really.

After the office tour, and a lunch at Schnippers (which was pretty good by the way), it was time for us to say good bye to Babadi and get on with our day. But not before my mother strongly suggested (for a second time) that I take my daughter to see The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. We were in close proximity, she reasoned, and well, what else did we have to do?

My internal thermometer shot through the roof. “Thanks for telling me what I should do with my child!” After all, I had important plans to drag her back home so I could prop her up in front of the television in our building gym and work out.

My mother stood her ground, and with a compassionate glance suggested that moments like this don’t come around all the time. And she was right. Thank you, mom.

I changed our itinerary, but I needed to check my mindset. I needed to be in the moment and not make this a task, nor have my mind wander off to any number of other tasks on my to-do list.

I took a deep breath, looked at my daughter, and smiled. I let everything go and was completely present with her. I was ready. And so was she… but not before we were properly equipped.

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Standard “issue” before any walk around the city.

And we were off to see the tree. But on the way, we hopped in to check out this place:

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Poor shot. It’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And there’s the cup.

A pit stop, and then our ultimate destination…

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And we even got to witness a marriage proposal. Or at least the victory lap on the rink.

We ended up heading home after The Tree. And I never got to work out. But so what! I had an amazing day with my daughter which I know we’ll both cherish for years. I can’t recall any workout as meaningful.

I watched a great Ted talk the other day which I suggest you do, too – Ric Elias’s  3 things I learned while my plane crashed. I refuse to bury the lede here – he talked about what was going through his mind when, well,  his plane was crashing.

“And it made all the sense in the world to me. I realized at that point… that the only thing that matters in my life is being a great dad.”

I’m not going to suggest that day with my daughter or Ric’s talk changed me. I was a pretty good dad. But I want to be a better dad. And I’m working on it. Specifically being a lot more patient with my daughter and understanding every moment, even the trying times, are precious because they don’t last forever and there’s nothing as important.

World… it’s on!

*I just stumbled on the term “colloquial variant” when looking up how WRONG it is to say “anyways” as opposed to “anyway.”

Apparently, it’s not so wrong, which is something that confounds me.

I came up with this to help ease my pain because the struggle is real:

At some point in time, a critical mass of folks started to grapple with the word,”anyway,” bastardizing it as “anyways.” Red storm clouds started rolling in. There was a run on the banks. Lines were around the corner at groceries.  The whole nine yards.

Fearing the end of our nation, the arbiters of the English language had a super secret meeting somewhere on the AT and decided, in the interest of perpetuating American life, they would step in and proclaim “anyways” as an acceptable word. But they had to add an asterisk, because they couldn’t justify supporting what seemed such a simple concept, pronouncing “anyway,” and thus considered it a colloquial variant.

Best I could come up with. I still say it’s wrong. Or at least it sounds wrong. To me.

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