I have been a dad to a lovely pretty girl for the past 9 years and still counting. I guess I am one of those lucky dads who have an “unica ija” that I can also say that is a daddy’s girl. Her pet name evolved from “my baby girl” to “my little girl” to the present “my dalaginding”. Trust me, I am not excited with the prospect of changing it again anytime soon. She is growing up very fast. But one thing will always remain as she grows up – she will always be daddy’s “chukoy”.

As we celebrate Father’s Day, let me share with you some of the lessons that I picked up along the way as a dad.

Ask your kid “How was your day?” every day.

After a long day at work and in school, I always make it a point to ask Asher how her day went. It is my opportunity where I get her to share with me the highlights of her day. I get to congratulate her for her small wins ad console her for a bad one. It is the window of opportunity where I get to see how he handles her daily routine, how she reacts on situations, and what excites her.

You will be surprised that after a couple of “”How was your day?” with your kid, they will start asking you the same question when you get home. It is a good habit for communication.

Let their creativity flow.

With the advent of social media and the advances in technology, kids have more channels where they can work and share their creativity.

Asher enjoys the app “musically” so much where she gets to express herself through movement and music. I was annoyed at first because she spends a lot of time on it. But when I stumbled upon one of her posts where she was expressing herself through dancing, I was amazed at the intensity of her expression. I was in awe that a very young age she can already express her creativity to own the song with her movement.

We let her explore her creative side in different mediums at a very young age. Interestingly, her creativity now manifests itself on social media.

Let your kids play with their creativity and let their imagination run free while they are still young.

Let your kids know and explore your passion.

Asher knows that I love to travel locally and, when the opportunity presents itself, I tag her along with me. Apart from our personal Instgram accounts (follow us on IG – @marc7del and @payatnalaskwatero), we also share an IG travel account – @thetravelingdada, which stands for “the traveling dad and daughter”. We also have our shared hashtag -#JournalsOfTheTravelingDaDa. Both the IG account and hashtag share our travel stories.

I always shared with Asher two of my passions – local travel and mobile photography. This is my way of imparting to her the lesson of being a proud Pinoy by going out and exploring the Philippines. Our travels have brought us to the northern tip of Ilocos to the southern tip of Palawan, close to the borders of Sabah, this year alone. We have hiked to catch a glimpse of Kabigan Falls, ziplined in Bukidnon, white water rafted in Cagayan de Oro, and made our way to three of Iligan’s waterfalls on a habal-habal. It is a different kind of adventure when you travel with your kid to these amazing destinations but what makes it memorable is watching their eyes glow in wonder and awe during the trip.

The home and the classroom are not the only venues where your child can learn. There is a bigger world that both you and your kids can explore.

Teach you kid about responsibility.

Teach your kids to be responsible on things that they can handle like carrying their schoolbag or fixing their play area. AND you got to start them young.

This is where I am facing a lot of challenges right now. Asher is used to having someone around who will be there to help her out even on the smallest things. Now we changing the mechanism in the house where we ask her to do small house tasks so that we can teach her about responsibility. This part is still a work-in-progress for both me and Asher and she is starting to get the hang of it.

Be a kid.

I guess the best part of being a dad is I get to be a kid again. I play around with Asher like I am also a nine year old kid. I can easily play the part that she wants me to play. I can join her while she makes videos, making the same funny expressions that she does. We love making funny faces on cam. I am not afraid to make funny dance movements while joining her dance.

I guess I never really saw myself as the “stern” dad as I always had been a wacky person so it is a lot easier for me to be a kid when I am around with Asher. Of course when we do that, Asher’s mom goes haywire because it was as if she has two kids under her care. But stepping into the shoes of my nine year old makes me see how she sees the world. It also gives her another playmate to play around with. She will only be a kid for a certain period of time so I might as well join the fun.

Being a dad is a challenge but it is a very fulfilling experience. It comes with a ton of responsibilities but the rewards are endless. On my part, I have earned myself a “kakulitan” partner and a travel buddy with my nine year old. It has given me a lot of memories and a lot of what-else-is-there-to-see. I am excited to see her grow up to becoming a beautiful lady both inside and out but like what I always tell Asher… please do not grow up too fast.

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