Sunday will be one of those rare occasions when I am able to guilt my three children into coming over to dear-ole-dad’s house and spend some Knightly time together.
It is Father’s Day, after all.
My relationship with the three is not as contentious as I may have made it seem with that first sentence. Two of my children are grown and the third, my 12-year-old, comes over every other weekend (like too many parents have to do).
It is interesting to see how the relationship between one’s children and their father can change over time, especially when they are old enough to go out on their own. My son is 22 and my oldest daughter just turned 21.
I don’t spend nearly as much time with any of them as I would like to, but those moments do happen. Two weekends ago I took my oldest daughter to the Hard Rock Hotel to see the legendary rap group Public Enemy, who was opening for an English rock band, The Cult. Five hours of uninterrupted father-daughter time including a nice dinner and just over an hour in front of the stage bobbing our heads to the music with smiles on our faces.
The only downside was two-fold: People looking at us like we were a couple, and guys checking out my beautiful daughter before they realize I’m giving them the dead-eye stare.
A couple of weeks prior, my wife and I traveled with my son for a ju-jitsu tournament in Long Beach, California. The tournament lasted part of one day, leaving plenty of time for other memory building activities such as trips to the beach and my son’s first trip to Disneyland.
Twenty-two years old and never been to Disneyland. I’d chalk that up to bad parenting on my part, but I hadn’t been there until two years ago myself.
Then there’s my 12-year-old daughter. The one that no longer wants to kiss daddy in front of her friends, or who asks to sleep over with those same friends on my nights. It is hard to say “yes” to those requests, but I make sure she hears me tell her I love her often.
My daughter used to come over every weekend, but two years ago I had to give up on that as her social circle expanded. I didn’t want her telling her friends in a resentful tone, “I can’t because I have to go to dad’s.” But every other weekend, it’s father-daughter time, for the most part.
I have also used many lessons learned from dealing with my two older children and their mother in handling my relationship with my youngest and her mother (yes, three kids and two moms).
Biggest lesson I’ve learned is that no matter what the relationship is with the mother, separate it from the one I have with my children. I admittedly didn’t do the best job of that with the first two. I learned a lot in the intervening nine years between the second and the third child. I make sure to show up at my youngest daughter’s school band concerts during the week, and attend her volleyball on Saturdays, even when it’s not my weekend.
Keeping a closer relationship is also easier with the technological advances in cell phones in the intervening decade between the two sets of kids. Instead of calling the house and asking to talk to one of my children, I am able to call or text them directly. No potentially contentious conversation with mom before talking with the child.
The cell phones also enable me to drop in a “Daddy loves you” text whenever I want.
But while it is important to nurture that relationship with the children, it is also important to reach out to the father in my life, who lives 1,400 miles away in southeast Kansas.
Dad did double-parent duty when my mom passed away when I was 14 years old. He did everything he could to keep the family from being uprooted, even spending a couple of years driving 113 miles one way a couple of times a week, and hiring a nanny to take care of myself and two younger sisters on nights he had to stay out-of-town.
Fathers seem to be people that aren’t fully appreciated until the years pass, and that’s probably my shortcoming. I have a far better appreciation for what my dad went through in the years following 1982 when my mother died.
I lost my mom.
He lost his best friend.
Happy Father’s Day. I love you dad. Thanks for everything.
Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times.