I love soccer. I love the beach and I love my kids. A few weekends ago I found myself in the middle of this triple play of my favorites. We spent the entire day at the beach as my youngest daughter competed in a huge sand soccer tournament. It was good because it had been a while since we visited our favorite beach. In between games the whole family was able to get in some much needed relaxation time. At one point as we’re chatting it up with fellow soccer moms and soccer dads, I noticed that my oldest daughter wasn’t so happy. She was all of sudden a bit withdrawn and had 'that look' on her face. I asked her what was wrong. Her reply? “Nothing.” I’m experienced enough to recognize the “nothing technique” that females use to test the male species. So, I suggested she and I excuse ourselves for a walk down the beach to check out the adult soccer games at the main stadium.
Walking hand in hand I asked her about what was really going on. She finally opened up and
shared an emotional crisis that she was currently going through. Part of me wanted tell her to get over it. As our toes splashed in the crashing surf on this perfect beach day I thought about avoiding any further discussions on anything less than positive. I could’ve easily said, “We have all of this awesome beach to enjoy and you want to focus on this issue right now!!?” I brushed those thoughts aside because I knew I couldn't take the easy way out. She needed me. So, instead I listened ...I mean I truly listened.
At first, I did try to solve her problem but she made it clear that this conversation wasn’t about solving her problem. So I gave relinquished full control and let her speak. As she poured out her heart on that sandy beach I remembered that this conversation was an example of what the Dad Days are all about. This was what a father is supposed to do. She could’ve shared what’s going on in her heart with anyone, but at this memorable moment in time that I was chosen to be her emotional hero. She trusted me with the truth that was in her heart about a situation she was trying
to deal with.
I hope she’ll always feel comfortable talking to me about the tough stuff life throws her way.
For now, I will just savor as many of these awesome conversations as possible. Oh by the way, we also managed to get to enjoy seeing some amazing soccer players from around the world do amazing stuff. Right now, it appears that I'm dad-winning!
Fellow dads be on the look out for these types of moments. They come when you least expect them and when they do, make the right choice resist the urge to wiggle your wait out of it. Encourage your kid to talk it so that you can help them navigate this crazy world. You might not hear them say thanks for listening every time but best belief that some day they'll look back on your heart to heart conversations and feel good about it.