Like many guys, I spend most of the workweek away from my kids, Samantha, 6, and Mia, 4, and it's hard not to feel like I'm missing out. We see each other in the blur of mornings and the circus of afternoons, so when Saturday comes, I commence my mission to make this uninterrupted kid time insanely entertaining. It's the ridiculous stereotype we dads seem to have absorbed into our bones: Moms are nurturing, fathers are fun. And that, I've learned, is when the trouble begins.
At first, my Daddy Days seemed easy enough. They started when Samantha was a newborn, and I, the proud father, headed out with her for a Saturday-morning stroll. The ritual coalesced quickly, and efficiently: Load her into the stroller, pack diapers and wipes, and place her favorite stuffed snake securely under her arm. As she grew, however, so did my self-imposed pressure to make Daddy Day fun. This was my moment to reconnect with Samantha after her five Mommy Days. Most dads I know view themselves as doers, and as absurd as it sounds, it doesn't matter what we do as long as we're doing something. Daddy Day is do day.
Before long, I added trips to the playground and bookstore to our excursions. We took in the zoo, shared pizza, and jumped on the shaky bridge of the neighborhood jungle gym. But no matter how long or full the Daddy Days became, I always had a nagging feeling that I could have done more.
Just as our Saturday options were opening up with Samantha's advancing age and abilities, we had a new member of the team: Mia. As my wife, Sue, snoozed, my ritual grew more complex and demanding. The light, folding stroller was replaced by a monstrous double jogging device with wheels like a Humvee's. Once outside, in the world of speeding cars and narrow bathrooms, I had to switch over from the relative ease of man-to-man coverage to zone defense. But I refused to buckle. Let the field trips begin!