Being a Dad That Goofs Off

 | Monster Night |

There’s nothing quite like wrestling with your Dad if you’re a little kid. I’ve heard some Dads say that if they’re gone for a week, they have to spend several hours on the carpet with their kids just to get the wrestling worked out of their system from their week hiatus. Whatever the reason, there’s something very physical to the father-son relationship in particular—although surely there is some of that to the father-daughter relationship as well (I have found this to be true as my daughters now want to wrestle for fun, but my son is large enough that he actually wants to beat me while wrestling).

Every week for several years my brother and father and I would have what we deemed “Monster Night.” This name arose from Dad’s peculiar ability to glare at us in a distinct way, tipping us off that he was morphing into a monster that would chase us around and wrestle us until we were wheezing with equal parts terror and joy. The nights usually followed a simple formula. Mom would be out of the house for her weekly women’s group or a class she was taking towards a degree. After she was gone for a bit, lights would begin to go off in the house and my brother and I would know the time had come. We would scurry around in circles and then find hiding places which, considering all the “SHHhhh-ing” and “Where is he?’s” were about as secretive as a firecracker in a funeral home. Dad would find us in short order, after circling the hiding spot a few times slurping and groaning like a monster, playing dumb to our obvious location.

Once we were found my brother would make his great escape to his room, where he would bunker doing who-knows-what for about fifteen minutes in monster-slaying preparation solitude. Then Dad would drag me out to the living room, tickling and wrestling me and giving me noogies till I was red with laughter. In a flash my brother would then re-appear in a full super-hero/special-agent/western-gun-slinger outfit complete with a cape and a briefcase full of spare plastic guns and fighting accessories. He would run into the room, sometimes launching off a couch or chair, flying with his arms out and landing square on the center of Dad’s back with both knees acting like photon torpedoes to the monster on top of me. Wailing in true pain, Dad would invariably be vanquished and we boys would run away to our next pseudo-hiding place and the cycle would continue. It is a wonder Dad never needed major spinal column surgery.

Becoming a Goof Off

Despite all of the training we men went through in high-school and/or college, goofing off is hard to do once you’re “Dad.” Giving lectures, imparting advice, and teaching lessons: these things seem to come naturally for all parents. It’s like we flip on some “over the hill” switch when we become parents and start to say things we’ve never said before—sometimes even sounding eerily like our own parental units. What really sets Dads apart from one another is not the time they spend disciplining their kids, but rather, it may be their ability to effectively goof off with their kids. Good humor and fun times aren’t just needed by our wives; kids need them too! In fact they’re needed more by the kids than our wives. They’ve heard and seen all our jokes and tricks a thousand times by now anyway.

You can almost always spot a fun Dad in a crowd. His focus is on giving a good time to his kids. Because of his wacky ways, he’s a virtual clown in Dockers and a Polo shirt. He’s the one making faces to his four-year old in the middle of the Wal-Mart checkout line. He’s the one doing the fake separated thumb trick for the tenth time that vacation to Florida, and the kids still trying to do it themselves in imitation of him. He’s the one playing hide and seek in the mall while his wife rolls her eyes knowing she’s got one more kid to straighten out that night.

It’s funny how the simple things a Dad does make the most lasting impressions. You never quite realize them as a man until you start doing them yourself. Passing along these fun things make life more enjoyable for the kids, and in reality, for us too. Every man wants to be a kid again deep down inside. Having kids is our chance to do that while also giving the munchkins a chance to have the time of their lives growing up.


Questions to Ask Yourself or a Group of Other Dads:

  1. Did your Dad do anything goofy or fun with you when you were a kid?
  2. What’s the last goofy or fun thing you did with your kids that they loved?
  3. What “fun traditions” do you lead your family in?
  4. On a scale of 1-10, how fun do your kids think you are?
  5. What fun ideas could you list here that you plan to do with your kids soon?
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