Voices from Fathers

I know a lot of fathers with special connections with their children and asked them if they would share a few words for Father’s Day. If you have a tradition you’d like me to add to this post, please let me know. If you’re dad out there, enjoy your special day.

Douglas Heikinin's son, Cale 'Bird' climbing his Portland tree in the mist.

I was the guy who waited forever to have a you.I was the guy who did whatever­, whenever and however long he wanted to.  I didn’t have a care in the world, but what I wanted.  I thought that was really living. Almost three years ago, you changed all that—you ended the selfish. Now, you’re all I do—all the time.  You are better than a lifetime of Christmases. It shouldn’t be called Father’s day, since I really don’t deserve anything. To me, it’s Cale Day since you warrant it all.

Happy Cale Day, Calebird!

Doug Heikkinen, Portland, OR

One tradition I have with my kids, nine-year-old boy/girl twins, Nico and Devi, is to tell stories during our 20-minute walk to school. We have about five or six sequel themes we draw from, all are made up, and any given story might last a couple weeks or a month.  The kids love it.  I love it.  If I’m drawing a blank, I steal shamelessly from movies or books — because once 8 a.m. comes every morning when we hit the sidewalk, I need content!

Ed Garnero's twins, Devi (l) and Niko (r), master storytellers of the Arizona desert.

I weave in life experiences I think are important for them to consider, classic good versus evil (they actually *insist* on having bad guys, and let me know when I’ve failed in the depth of his/her evil nature), our inner divinity (even the bad guys), and so on.  Our most recent one was “Sarah The Squirrel.” Sarah has a ton of relatives.  They live in our backyard (so we are sometimes in the story). The plot usually revolves around her younger brother Billy, who loves appliances — sneaks into homes, steals stuff (like one time, our green blender). The ‘bad guys’ featured foxes, Vinnie and Vito, but the last story involved a new neighbor animal-hating kid ‘Bozic’, who Billy tries to shoot with a stolen gun. Morris the Gopher (who lives four doors down from our house) saves the day and Bozic survives and turns good in the end. Telling these stories pushes me to be creative every day and together, we explore the vast domains of adventure, emotion, conflict and resolution. What’s great is that I see my kids do the same in their own art and fantasy.

At first, it was just fun but then there was the period where the storytelling felt like duty, “Shoot. They’re going to want a story in ten- minutes.  I’m empty!” Now, it is totally blessing. We journey together, deeply, in these moments. Some days, even when we’ve maxed out the suspense and arrive at the playground, I finish a sentence and they want a little more.

Edward Garnero, Tuscon, AZ

Jim Migdal teaches his daughters Eliza (l) and Blair (r) pizza making and salad dressing in Silicon Valley.

As the father of two daughters,it is incumbent upon me to teach the girls how to (a) throw and catch properly (b) make a pizza and a salad dressing from scratch, and (c) be a good companion on a walk with your dad, all of which are evolving traditions in our house. The throwing and catching gets better each year as the girls develop a nice 3/4 delivery and are able to catch various types of balls.  Pizza-making evolves and becomes more elaborate each year as we perfect our technique and make a bigger mess of the kitchen.  The walks take place around the neighborhood and get more interesting as we go and the girls grow.

Jim Migdal, Palo Alto, CA

Dan Weaver and his baby girl, Gracelyn Rose, hike above the Pacific Ocean.

Each morning, I share a few rituals
with my daughter Gracelyn Rose of 14 months, who loves to wake up early. Maybe a little too early for my wishes, but we make the best of it! If it’s a “Water the Plants Day”, I strap on the Bjorn, strap on Gracelyn and her fascination with plants, dirt, bugs, birdies and water begins. Excitation is generally signified by an outstretched hand coupled with a monkey like mew…eeeeEEERRHHH!  After that it’s back inside and time for oatmeal, but my favorite part of the morning is dancing with her. We hook up the I-Pod and she bounces up and down with excitation and wildly pushes the buttons…and bits of Vivaldi, Afrobeat, Motown, and a podcast here and there randomly staccato out of the speakers. I scoop her into my arms, dial up some Motown, and start counting the beat while I dance around the living room with her in my arms. I remember when music filled our household growing up and I want my daughter to feel the joy and resonance of melody and rhythm, too.  I think she’s slowly learning the subtle ‘head nod’ or that is my projection. You go, Gracelyn!  I put her down, she holds up her arms for one more dance and every once in awhile, more often than not, tears well up in my eyes from the sweetness of it all.
Daniel Weaver, Mill Valley, CA

'Pirate Tom' Croley and his oldest son Cameron explore the beach in San Diego.

I love spending one-on-one time with the boys as ‘Pirate Tom’. One tradition we have is bed time stories. Not the kind you read, but making them up on the fly, like Captain Jack setting sail from San Francisco looking for treasure around the world. His sailboat crew includes his dog Lucy, Pete the Parrot, and in the water, his friends Willy the Whale and Monty the Manta Ray. Sharing these stories is a great way for us to connect and just be in the moment, while our imaginations run wild. The boys remember every word and even catch me when I retelling a story from a month old.

Tom Croley, Mill Valley, CA

Mike Payne with his daughters Madison (l) and Ava (r) sharing yet another laugh.

My daughters, Madison (9) and Ava (5), and I enjoy riding our bikes after dinner or on weekend mornings.  Ava rides tandem with me on a “trail-along” bike and she is able to pedal and thankfully contribute to climbing hills.  We ride around five miles and usually stop halfway at our town park for some fun on the swings or slides.  When it’s really hot, we will ride to a local ice cream shop for a treat or finish up at our neighborhood pool for a refreshing swim.  When our timing is just right, we sometimes ride along the community green-path trails and catch the spray from water sprinklers to cool us off and leaving us laughing as we speed through the make-shift bike wash.  The girls love the outdoor adventures on their bikes and I love combining quality time and exercise with them. And yes, I also like the occasional ice cream.

Mike Payne, Keller, TX


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