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there are dad HOURS and there are dad DAYS. dad HOURS happen every week, or are supposed to at least. dad DAYS happen once a year. a dad HOUR is when i and one of my children go out, just the two of us, and do something, something of their choosing for one hour in the week. for these bella usually picks rollerblading or ripsticking, aleo picks tennis or a sushi lunch, and anfer almost exclusively chooses to go to the zoo. during the school year two dad HOURS happen on sunday and one happens during the wednesday lunchtime (where i pull the kid out of school). these work in structured rotation so that each third week a kid gets a wednesday dad lunch. a dad DAY is far more involved, happens once a year, lasts for a full day, and i set the agenda. the point of the dad DAY is my way of celebrating the child's school year and thanking them for all their effort and success.

last week anthony had his first-ever dad day because this was the first year he went to school. i wasn't entirely sure where to take him as the goal is to both surprise and blow their socks off. marty came up with a winning last minute suggestion of a nearby water park that anthony had gone to last summer. any uncertainty about how much he would like the choice started dwindling right after we pulled into the parking lot. anthony, craning in his kid's bucket seat to see out the window immediately started saying, "ohhhh! love this place. this place is soooo awesome!" to this i asked anthony if he remembered coming here last year with mom. he said he did not and went on to ask where we were. that put a couple ladles-worth back into the uncertainty bucket. but this was soon mitigated because after parking, getting our tickets, getting changed, and climbing our first hill to go down our first flume, a quaking-with-excitement anthony said, "this is the best day EVER dad. it's like christmas ... birthdays ... valentines ... and ... and ... and ... christmas all wrapped up into one! is it the best day ever for you dad?" after that sentiment it was a contender, and the precise goal of a dad day.

after we'd been there several hours and were having a famous time, i asked anthony if we should come here again. he gave an emphatic and body-flexing YES. when i asked if we should bring alex and bella next time his mind seemed to blue screen at the query and he just sat there expressionless as if he didn't hear the question or realize it was directed at him. seeing him stuck i said, "or should just you and i find a time to come back together." he came to life suddenly, responding, "yes, that would be better, if just he and i could find time." moments later i asked anthony if he thought he might like to be an only child. he thought on this for a minute and said, no he would not. when i asked him why he said, "because bella will read me books anytime i ask her to." his tone was almost agitated like i had asked an obnoxious question given how obvious the answer was.

after the water park we still got to stop for dinner and a book store (with a twenty dollar stipend). the day is typically capped with ted drewes custard. and we don't even order and drive it home. we order it and sit on the trunk of my car and slowly eat the freshly scrambled mixture. we will typically then jump back in line and order stuff for the rest of the brood but they get a softened version of the treat after its had a chance to thaw a bit on the drive home. but they do get to watch the dried ice bubble in the sink while they eat their unexpected treats.

bella's dad day this year was horse back riding. i've arranged that for her in the past. what made this one special was that I rode with her. this was the first time i'd ever ridden a horse and did much, much better than i or bella ever expected i would. after three hours of trail riding and helping the lady feed and move the horses around, we went out for steak, then the book store, and then drewes.

alex's day began with sushi and a movie but he got sick during the movie so his day of go-karts and water-boats got rain-checked.

when i started doing these i just had two kids in school and they were in different schools with different end days. this is important because the ritual began that the dad day would happen on their last day of school, which was usually a half day. now that i have three kids and two have the same last day, soon to be three, it takes most of the summer to get the dad days in.

even though the word DAD is all over DAD day and DAD hour, no DAD time would exist without the constant and unflagging support of marty who makes my running around playing with our kids possible. knowing this i once expressed to her how much i enjoy my dad hours and asked if she would like to do mom hours. her reply: "every day is full of mom hours for me" which is the polite equivalent of "i gave at the office".

AUG2011

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