Today was Dads of Mystery day again at the playground — that’s the dads’ group I’ve written about a few times. As usual, some were ZOPs (“zoned-out parents”), talking on their phones or exclusively with one other and not engaging their kids. Amazingly, one dad even managed to read the newspaper while pushing the swing. I didn’t know whether to be appalled or impressed.
Perhaps I’m mellowing out, though, because I took note of many dads playing pretty well with their kids. I think I may have even redeemed myself with one of the leaders who, I’ve heard through the grapevine, thinks I’m, well, aloof.
I was playing a game called “Freeze Frame” with his just-turned-four-year old daughter. I used to be a naturalist, and my old trail games have been bouncing around my head because I just posted about a bunch of cool nature activities over at GNM Parents. Here’s a thumbnail version of Freeze Frame, extracted from that post:
As youâ€™re walking along, if you notice a particularly obvious color in nature, shout â€œFreeze!â€ and â€œClose your eyes!â€ When the child’s eyes are closed, say, â€œWithout opening your eyes, point at something orange!â€ Give your child a few seconds and then ask them to open their eyes to see if they were right. Laugh, rinse, repeat.
There’s a fuller description at the original post, plus two other observation activities.
Anyway, this little four-year old loves the game and asks me to play it every time we’re at the playground. And every time, I’ve suggested that she play it with her dad, too, but she says she doesn’t want to. I get the feeling he’s not a goofy-play dad. Today, though, I wouldn’t take no for an answer, and so I played it with her dad. Daughter was over the moon about it. Here I was, another dad, making her dad close his eyes and point at colors! As soon as she saw I could do it, I think she got the idea that she could, too!
More importantly, though, I think the dad got excited about a toy-free way to engage his daughter. Maybe I’m reading into his expression, but he seemed lit up about it in a way I hadn’t seen before. At least, I hope, it’ll help him understand me as a little more than just some jughead who doesn’t want to mix. Not that I’m gung-ho about joining the group (I think maybe CrankMama is right, and most playgroups are a bad idea).
At least, though, the Dads of Mystery and I seem to be getting closer to figuring each other out.
This entry is 55% female.