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Conversations

Saying I’m Sorry…

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Development, Discipline, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Parenting, Quality Time, Relationships, Rules, Toddlers | No Comments

n-SAD-GIRL-628x314I raised my voice to my four-year old daughter.

I even “stopped the car” to turn around and tell her that her behavior wasn’t going to win her any Miss Congeniality sashes any time soon. Ok, I’m paraphrasing, but I was stern with her and the look on her face showed me that the message got through.

I had lost my patience. I immediately regretted it.

While some of you may be thinking “no big deal” or “sometimes you’ve got to be the bad guy,” that’s just not me. You may think it’s a mountain out of a molehill, but strong words have a lasting effect. I still remember things that were said to me decades ago that affected who I was and grew into. One of the goals of purposeful parenting is to grow and learn from the past.

It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s hard as hell. Kids can test your limits.

But I made her a promise when she was about two hours old. I told her I would do everything I could to show her what it was to be a good man. So as impossible as it may become (See: teenager), I’m going to hold myself to my word.

That’s why when we got home we had another of our “hands and eyes” talks. It’s just something we do to make sure we are listening to each other when it’s really important. She held my hands, we made eye contact, and I told her I was sorry for raising my voice at her. I explained that even though her actions were wrong, it was just as wrong for me to get upset.

She consoled me and told me that it “was OK, you’re my Daddy” which made me sad to think of how many parents might actually think that is true. Big people don’t get a pass just because they made the little people. I told her that it wasn’t OK and that I would do my best to never do it again.

I believe you can get the desired result without taking shortcuts. To me, losing your patience and raising your voice to intimidate a smaller human is not only a shortcut, it’s detrimental to your future relationship with her.

I have no idea whether I’m in the minority/majority when it comes to this parenting technique. Some of my closest friends have no qualms over using “Dadtimidation.”  I have no frame of reference as Grace is my first and only child. I suppose it doesn’t work for everyone. It may not even end up working for me.

But if I want to have a meaningful conversation with her when she’s 14, I’ll start when she’s 4 and try to exemplify how we should communicate with each other.

Actions speak louder than words? I’d change that to “actions should replace your louder words.” In other words, back up what you say instead of raising your voice.

Don’t confuse calm with weakness. While I adore my daughter and cherish every second we share, she still has to follow the rules. There are toys to be picked up, messes to be cleaned, and teeth to be brushed. Those things get done. Disobeying has consequences and she understands discipline. I’m lucky. I’ve seen some other children and how they behave. In comparison, I won the kiddo lotto with Grace.

But I’m the grownup. If it gets to the point where I feel the need to raise my voice, I try and reevaluate what I am doing so it doesn’t get to that point. Most adults have the mental capacity to approach a problem from different angles to find a solution. Most kids don’t.

I’m far from an expert. I’m just parenting by my gut and trying every day to do what I feel is right. So you can take this advice or leave it. But be kind to one another…even when she’s naughty. It will take more time and effort on your part, but that’s fatherhood.

Oh, and if you mess up, say you’re sorry.

T.

Unscripted: Improv Fatherhood

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Parenting, Quality Time, Relationships, Toddlers | No Comments

improvWant to be a better Dad? Try improvisational comedy.

No, you don’t have to get on stage. But the basics of what an improv class can teach you will help any father’s ability to communicate with his kids.

Improv (at least a version of it) is one of those things that comes second nature to me. Years of morning radio honed the skill of immersing myself in random “created realities” and to this day I’m more than ready, probably to a fault, to jump into those spaces and play around. Quick-witted conversations are my comfy place.

So when I talk to my four-year old daughter, it’s like my own personal Disneyland. She doesn’t feel the need to be bound by logic or order when it comes to her conversations. I love that.

So first things first, know your audience. And be ready to flip the script on your “material” at a moment’s notice.

Here are three other rules of improv comedy that you should follow:

LISTEN

I know it sounds easy but if you don’t hear what she is saying you can’t be part of the conversation. And please, when your girl says something that doesn’t make sense, run with it. Don’t correct her. If she’s really trying to communicate something but struggling with what words to use, this will help her get from here to there without her getting frustrated by you . Just play around with what she is actually saying. If she’s just being silly, all the better.

DON’T DENY

Here’s an example of denial.

“Hi, my name is Jim. Welcome to my zoo.”
“This isn’t a zoo, it’s an airplane. And you’re not Jim, you’re a go-go dancer.”
See? Not fun.

Grace has told me about wolves that serve ice cream to which I replied “What flavor?” She also said that she uploads her thoughts to the rainbow clouds hanging above her bed to which I ask “Is the pink one full yet?” You get it. Don’t deny the reality being created. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn about what she’s really thinking when you let her create the world in which to speak.

NO FUNNY BUSINESS

The hidden riddle of improv is that the harder you try to be funny the unfunnier it gets. The same goes with your girls. Try and be funny and you’ll just fall flat. Your goal? Keep things interesting.  Keep adding to the “scene” you and your daughter are creating.  When that happens, the funny usually comes out all by itself. The best ways to go are to stick to your character, stick to the story that is being told, and to stay within the reality she has made.

Improvisation isn’t for everyone but I believe every father should at least give it a shot. Fatherhood, like improv comedy, is unscripted and can be difficult but working without that net makes for the biggest laughs and memories.

– T.

If you like this, maybe you’ll like some of my other favorites? My New Morning Show,  Men Suck… , The Wonder of a Weed, and the G-Talk series


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What Daddy Wants…

By | Conversations, Daddy, Father's Day, Memories, Quality Time, Relationships | No Comments


no-ties
Why is it so hard for some people to find the right gift for Dad on Father’s Day?

I know the answer, but you might not like it.

Think about a close or best friend…a true friend who has been by your side through everything. You know quite a bit about them don’t you? You have a history. You went through it together when sh– got real. It’s pretty easy to figure out what to get them for a gift. You know more than just the cursory details of their life. You’ve spent lots of time together.

If you can’t say the same for your Dad, you may find yourself struggling to get him something for Father’s Day.

This isn’t a guilt trip. (Ok, it’s a small one). I get it – there are lots of reasons you and your old man aren’t that tight. It could be his fault, your fault, or just the way the world turned.

I was in your shoes. I could never figure out what to get my Dad for Father’s Day (or his birthday…or Christmas). I just didn’t know the man that well and I didn’t make the effort until just before it was too late and he was gone.

His gifts regularly included fishing gear, golf gear, or a pair of leather gloves. I knew these things about him and he may have even liked them. But I think I know what he (and every other Dad in the world worthy of calling himself a father) really wants.

I wrote about it in a guest blog for www.grkids.com. It hurt a little to write but I think that’s a good thing.

T.


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G-Talk: The One About The Plane

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, G-Talk, Memories, Personality, Quality Time, Relationships | 3 Comments

airplanes-work-1Disneyland.

That one word can have the same effect as Christmas to most young girls. 

My daughter is only 4 so the full concept of what the amusement park brings didn’t reach its full potential until she was standing slack-jawed on Main Street looking at Sleeping Beauty’s castle. When it finally hit home, we literally embodied the “happiest” part of “the happiest place on Earth.”

But before we got to enjoy the days of teacup rides, princess makeovers, and meeting Mickey and Minnie, we had to get to California… and that meant a plane ride.

Many thoughts went through my mind. Would she be scared? Would she like it? Would her ears be ok?

But as she usually does, Grace amazed me with her calm demeanor, curiosity, and cuteness.

Living a plane ride through her eyes had me answering questions and witnessing things I would never have expected. (Example: Watching her try and clean the ‘fog’ off the window as we ascended through the clouds.)

Here’s the adorable audio of her giving me the play by play from take off (which she started calling “blast off” on the return trip) to landing.

Here’s the one about the plane…

(You can hear previous G-Talks: The one about The Skunk,  The BatBad Breath, and Baseball)

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/146943281?secret_token=s-N4K2C” params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]


 

The Five Stages of Grief (Read: Bedtime)

By | Bedtime, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Discipline, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Independence, Memories, Parenting, Personality, Relationships, Rules, Sleeping Habits | One Comment

707px-Crying-girl1I’m pretty sure I won the “kid lotto”. Bedtime at my house, while it may take longer than it should, is far from a battle. While she will put up a halfhearted fight, my girl knows she can only push it so far and I think she actually enjoys all of the routines we have before she hits the sack.

But for some Dads, sending their kids to bed resembles a mash up of “The Exorcist” and a Benny Hill episode.

While the Kubler-Ross model was written for the five stages of grief, Liz had know that she had nailed the nighttime ritual of any parent today.

I talked it out with a couple of other Dads and found it is really simple to associate each of the stages with a young daughter. But based on their responses, I’ve also found it applies the same for the Dads – just in a different way.

For example…

Stage One: Denial

Daughter – “It’s not late.” “It’s not dark out (see:pitch black)”
Dad – “Tonight’s routine is only going to take 20 minutes and I’m watching the playoffs.”

30 minutes later…

Stage Two: Anger

Daughter – “Nooooooooooooooo! I don’t CARE if the sun has gone to bed.” (mad face, limp body, #daggers)
Dad – “I’m an idiot. Why didn’t I upgrade to the DVR so I could record the game?”

Stage Three: Bargaining

Daughter – “What if I sit still on the couch and watch football with you” or “Just one more story” or (insert ANY thing you can think of to avoid skin touching sheets).
Dad – “Somebody put this kid on Shark Tank because I’m fairly certain she could sell ice to an Eskimo.” Then…“Let’s try the couch thing.”

Somebody didn’t hold up their end of the bargain or tried to change the terms mid-deal. The firm foot of fatherhood comes down…off to bed.

Stage Four: Depression

Daughter – “But …(whimper)… I’m (sniff)… not (sniff, sniff)… tired. (gulp) I need a tissue” (If you’re lucky, if not read: boogers on sleeves)”
Dad – “But… (whimper) is that halftime analysis (sniff)… I’m hearing in the background? (moan)”

Stage Five: Acceptance

Daughter
– “I love you, Daddy..zzzzz..zzz”
Dad – “I love you too, boo.” Spend the next 10 minutes watching her sleep, kissing her, and remembering what the truly valuable things in life are.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, your “pace of life” has changed (which I’ve tried to explain for you here) but the short story is you have to plan it all out. Like way out… in advance. The days of snap decisions and impromptu desires being fulfilled are over. And even the best laid plans can get blown up. As we say around here “Life happens”.

Oh, and for Pete’s sake…get a DVR. How are you living without one?

T.

P.S. If you’re battling every night, you should check out this book. It could help.


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The Last Thanksgiving – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Food, Growing Up, Memories, Quality Time, Relationships, Thanksgiving | One Comment

54cb76d69713f_-_detroit-lions-turkey-112310-xlg<Guest post from Teresa L. Thome>

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always pleasant enough, but I never quite understood what all the fuss was about.

It was a day off from school. The greatest stress involved was the cooking of the meal and that was left primarily to my mother. I suspect my oldest sister, eight years my senior, shared some of the responsibility. I’m sure she’ll let me know after she reads this. But, by and large, it was my Mom’s meal which meant we would feast on overcooked turkey, over-creamed vegetables, over-radished salad, and (surprisingly) delicious chocolate pie! (My grandma’s recipe).

This meant, for my Dad and me, Thanksgiving was more about Lion’s football and dessert than the meal itself. (Although my Dad did love turkey skin!)

As my parents aged and my siblings moved away, Thanksgiving grew even less about the food – if that could even be possible. Much like other fall days, it was a time to spend with my parents and watch the Lions with my Dad.

I vividly recall one Thanksgiving with my parents and grandparents where, as I looked around the table, I noticed that each adult had food somewhere on their face. I gagged a little. Needless to say I really started dreading Thanksgiving. It had become about aging and change. It was making me sad.

After my Mom passed, it got worse. My Dad moved into a retirement community and not wanting him to be alone on this day for families, I’d join him. By this time I was a full practicing vegetarian. While the seniors in the home dined on turkey, and my Dad the extra turkey skin he loved, they lovingly prepared me a boiled vegetarian hot dog for my protein. After a few years of that, my Dad really encouraged me to go to Detroit. “It’s just a day. Go. Go,” he would say. I went.

But after a few years spending the holiday there, I decided to once again spend Thanksgiving with my Dad. I also decided to make my grandmother’s pie.

The meal was being served at 12:30pm, which meant seating at noon and completion by 2pm. But kickoff for the game was around noon and that disappointed me. I really wanted my Dad to be able to see the whole game and I really wanted to the see the whole game with my Dad.

I arrived at 11:30am. Late arrivals always stressed my Dad, so I was unusually early this day. He was pleased. We chatted a bit.

Then I said, “Too bad kickoff is right at meal time.”

“Oh, you saw that, huh?” he said as if he didn’t want me to feel bad about missing it.

It was sweet. He knew I wanted to enjoy the game. He didn’t realize it was about enjoying the game with him. I appreciated the concern. Then I had an idea.

“Hey Dad, why don’t I run over to Meijer, grab takeout and we can just watch the game?”

“No, you don’t want to do that. You want a real meal,” he said half-heartedly.

I knew he already thought it was a great idea.

“Really, Dad? I mean the food here isn’t that great. Let’s bag it and eat in front of the TV.”

He lit up, quickly rubbing his hands together as to express excitement. Within minutes I was at Meijer and, moving as if on an episode of Amazing Race, was serving up a full meal in his apartment by kickoff.

I bought a roasted chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, biscuits, glazed carrots, creamed corn, and for the first time ever… wine! I always enjoyed that with my husband’s Italian family for Thanksgiving, but we had never had it. My Dad even wanted a glass. We sat with our TV trays for the entire game. We ate, drank and laughed. The food was decent. He was happy. I was thrilled.

When it came time for pie, I asked him how big a piece he wanted. He didn’t want any pie. He told me he never really cared for my mom’s chocolate pie. Wow. Thanksgiving wasn’t even about pie for him. Just football. I was so grateful that he got to enjoy the whole game – beginning to end.

As we said our goodbyes, he thanked me and I thanked him. I didn’t want to leave. He didn’t want it to end. We kept remarking what a lovely day it was. How grateful we were that it played out as it did. How we should do it again. I think we both hoped the day could go on forever. I know I did. For the first time I realized, truly, what the fuss was all about.

It was my last Thanksgiving with my Dad. I am forever grateful.


If you like what you’re reading, please enter your email address on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up.  So, please subscribe if you can.  Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.


Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


TERESA L. THOME ® 2013 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
UNAUTHORIZED USE AND/OR DUPLICATION OF THIS MATERIAL WITHOUT EXPRESS AND WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM TERESA L. THOME, AND THIS BLOG’S OWNER, IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | FUBBLEENTERTAINMENT@GMAIL.COM

G-Talk: The One About The Bat

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fall and Autumn, Fathers and Daughters, G-Talk, Growing Up, Halloween, Memories, Personality, Quality Time, Relationships, Toddlers | 3 Comments

108245476_-com-hanging-rubber-vampire-bat-halloween-toy-decorationIt’s been awhile since I’ve written and posted on this blog and the “blogger’s guilt” was compiling by the day. It got to the point where I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. “I’ve got to write something really compelling” or “It has to be super funny” where thoughts racing through my head.

I know, it’s silly. You’d think I write for the New York Times.

Then I remembered what I used to do. I used to host morning radio. I love audio.

Why should I beat myself over the head for something to write when all I have to do is talk to my 3 and half year old daughter about life and record it. That always delivers quality entertainment.

So, with my iPhone and audio software at the ready…I bring you a new series: G-Talk.

Grace loves to tell me how it is. Now you can hear her do it, too. 

The first episode is naturally about… Halloween. We were driving in the car and instead of giving her something cute and cuddly to play with, I gave her a rubber bat complete with menacing face and teeth. I swear this is the same toy my sister used to hang from our front porch each year for the holiday to scare the trick or treaters.

Here’s “the one about the bat”…

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/117858593?secret_token=s-DBedh” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

T.


Like what you’re hearing/reading? I’ll cut you a deal. Subscribe on the front page and for every new subscriber, I’ll steal one less piece of candy from her bag this year. So, you’re literally giving my child candy if you do it. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

 

The Candy Man – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fall and Autumn, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Halloween, Memories, Parenting, Quality Time, Relationships | One Comment

candy<Guest blog from Teresa L Thome>

“Pick one for me, and then you take two,” he would say.

I would divide reluctantly.

“Now pick one more for me and you take another two,” he would say again and I would do so again, despite my intense desire to defy his request.

The “he” was my Dad and the “dividing” was candy.

Halloween candy… my Halloween candy!

My pops, who at his peak weight was 340 lbs., loved his candy… and apparently mine, too.

Now the only good that comes from having to give up one’s Halloween candy to their Dad is being able to shed circus peanuts, anything with marshmallows, Necco wafers and that horrible invention called the Almond Joy.

Those I could easily remove from the pillowcase that served as my Halloween candy receptacle. He would occasionally push for a Snickers or a Nestle’s Crunch, which I would give up, but not without a fight. On the surface, this standing (read: annoying) tradition, instilled by my father, clouded my love for the Trick or Treat experience.

But more than loving to eat candy, he loved to share candy.

In his later years, after my mom passed, my Dad would send my husband or me to Costco to stock up on about $250 worth of candy (and sodas) every six weeks. He would store them in his apartment at the retirement community where he lived. All the workers there would stop by for a candy bar after their shift or at the end of their lunch.

Sometimes they’d stay and chat. Other times, they’d just grab their sugar fix and go. Either way, my Dad would beam. Half the joy in his life came when he would offer up a candy bar and someone would accept. Take two and the man would be on cloud nine for days. It was that easy to make him happy.

The first time I took him to a doctor’s appointment, I wheeled him up to the counter and from seemingly nowhere he pulled out a plastic bag filled with goodies. “Make sure you all get a piece of candy,” he said to the nurses behind the counter.

They’d chuckle and give the inevitable, “Oh, I surely don’t need another piece of candy,” just before they’d walk over and pull out a Hershey bar. Two minutes later someone would ask him how he was doing. “Crabby,” he’d answer. They all knew better. So did I.

The first time I took him to the eye doctor, the nurse said as he wheeled up to the counter, “Here comes Bob. You better have some candy for me!” He’d clearly been doing this for years.

I could easily imagine him in his apartment getting ready for the appointment, all alone, pulling just the right assortment of candy. Later, when I needed to do the bagging for him, he would say things like, “Get extra Nestle Crunches. I know Jan (the nurse) likes those.” Or, “Grab the big Snickers, not the little kind. Sally will only take one candy bar and she needs something to fill her up!” It was sweet. He was sweet. Pun intended.

A few years ago, I found my father’s high school yearbook. One of the autographs was signed as follows: “Hey Bob. I know I don’t know you too well, but thanks for the candy bars. You’re a great guy.” I cried. He’d been doing this his whole life.

Looking back, I realize my father was a master teacher. Without ever saying, “You need to share”, he held me to it (as a child) and demonstrated it (as an adult). And so, over time, I learned this valuable lesson.

This Halloween, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum will serve up hundreds of children for their Trick or Treat night. This year and for years to come, that candy will be given in my father’s name. My siblings and I felt this would be a fitting tribute to the man who really was a “candy man”.

“Who can take a sunrise?
Sprinkle it with dew?
Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two,
The Candy Man.
Oh, the Candy Man can.
The Candy Man can
‘Cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good.”


The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum11 Sheldon Avenue NE, is hosting its annual Trick or Treat Celebration on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. Parents and children are encouraged to wear costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the museum, create Halloween-themed art projects such as footprint ghosts and puffball spiders and more.

Admission is $1.50 per person. Contact Adrienne Brown at 616-235-4726 or visit grcm.org for more information.


Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


TERESA L. THOME ® 2013 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
UNAUTHORIZED USE AND/OR DUPLICATION OF THIS MATERIAL WITHOUT EXPRESS AND WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM TERESA L. THOME, AND THIS BLOG’S OWNER, IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | FUBBLEENTERTAINMENT@GMAIL.COM

If you like what you’re reading, please enter your email address on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up.  So, please subscribe if you can.  Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

 

Never Too Late – A Daughter’s Story

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Guest Blog, Independence, Memories, Personality, Relationships, Teenager | One Comment
download (2)BY TERESA THOME

After all these years, I have decided I no longer need a Dad.  I need a friend.”

I wrote that, years ago, in a letter to my father. I was in my late twenties.  I had spent much of my life fighting with my Dad.  Too much.

While I knew I couldn’t repair the past, I could work to change the future.  I made a decision to write down everything I wanted to say to him, to be honest and clear, to put it on the table once and for all.

I did it for me.  What he did with the information would be his choice. 

I gathered all of my courage, asked him if he had some time to connect and I read him the letter. 

Some of my best childhood memories involved my Dad, but so did some of my worst.  It’s hard to articulate these difficult times without sounding trite.

My father teased me. 

He didn’t beat or abandon me.

He teased me.  Incessantly.   He would tease me about boys and my looks and whatever else was in the moment.  I would cry and beg him to leave me alone.  He wouldn’t stop.  I’d close my bedroom door and hide, and when I emerged, he’d start in all over again.  It was exhausting and painful. 

My father was also an “over-eater”, topping out at nearly 350 lbs.  Most of my tween years were spent hiding food from him and imploring, “If you loved me, you’d stop eating.  If you loved me, you’d stop trying to kill yourself.”  The more I shouted (and believe me, I was a skilled shouter) the less he heard and the less loved I felt. 

My father worked two jobs, restaurant and factory, for most of my formative years.  It’s hard to imagine that we even had time to fight. 

He did spend time with me and my siblings. He would take us to the zoo, museum or lake.  Together we would watch Lion’s football and listen to Tiger’s baseball.  He taught us to play poker. (I was rather proud, at age nine, to know the difference between a straight and a flush.) He bought us books.  Lots of books. 

By the time I reached my late twenties, I had done my therapy and started to grow spiritually. I was ready to get to know this man.  The man I had come to believe loved me all these years, just never knew how to express that love.  For my part, pleading for him to love me, usually came out as “I hate you” and “leave me alone”. 

As I read him the letter, he sat in his chocolate brown Lazy-boy wearing his standard uniform – a stained white T-shirt and worn out blue Dockers.  (This memory is forever etched in my mind.) While I read, he cried.

I was grateful for his tears.  I knew he was hearing me. 

He waited until I finished before he spoke.  He said softly, “I had no idea.”  I believed him.

“I’m sorry,” he added.  I believed that, too. 

We talked and talked and when the time was right, he challenged me.  “There were times I tried to reach out to you.  You shut me down.”  He was right.

I said, “I’m sorry.”  He believed me.

That day marked the beginning of a new relationship with my father.  We were both adults now.  We both had made mistakes and we were both willing to forgive those mistakes.

For several years following that incredible day, he would occasionally ask me, “How are you doing?  Are you sitting on anything?  Anything you want to say to me?”  It was mostly, “Nope.  All good!”

On one or two occasions, I did say, “Yes.  Let’s talk some more.”  Each time, I was met with an absolute willingness to connect and a safe environment in which to share my thoughts.   

It was remarkable that I happened to get the Dad that wanted to be a better person; that wanted to be a better father. And asking him to change required that I be willing to change. 

I believe that we are not alone – that there are many fathers and daughters who want a better relationship, but don’t know where to begin.  I say, just begin somewhere.   I am forever grateful that I had the courage to ask for change. I am even more grateful that I had a father who agreed that this was a relationship worth fighting for.

In my twenties, I asked my Dad to be a friend.  As it turns out, by asking for a friend, I got the Dad I always wanted. 

When he passed in June of 2012, I felt a profound love that I still hold in my heart today.  I look forward to sharing more about my pops in the upcoming blogs.  I know there is great wisdom, joy and more than a few laughs to come from looking at the life of this simple, beautiful, devout, dutiful, wounded, funny, tubby, loving man.


Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


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Always No One There To Remind Me

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Divorce, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Quality Time, Toddlers | One Comment

WikineI live a dual existence. And no, I’m not Batman.

One life involves (and centers around) a three-foot bundle of beautiful energy that rivals the air that I breathe. The other life is a more work-centric, but freer existence of popping here or there whenever I need/want.

But there’s no denying this simple fact.

The latter is just a constant reminder of how much better the former really is.

So it is for me and millions of other men who love their children with abandon but are divorced and don’t get to see them every day.

I opened the door to my home tonight and was once again struck by the sense of loss. It’s a weekly calling card of being temporarily childless.

Say what you want about having kids, but be certain of this: Becoming a father changes you on a molecular level. The D in DNA stands for Daddy. While some may cherish the reprieve from the responsibilities of child rearing, I’m not one of them.

No matter the number of framed photos on my walls, the numerous glances at a fridge covered with toddler art, or the recorded videos watched on my iPhone, she’s just not here.

Grace has been an absolute dream child about the situation. Almost every handoff between me and my ex has been smooth as she says goodbye to one and hugs the other. It’s mostly all that she’s ever known.

When she asks about it, I say “Mommy and Daddy both share time with you. We both love you very much but we have to share because it’s important that we both see you.” To be honest, I am sometimes convincing myself more than her. Learning to share as an adult can be tougher than teaching it to a toddler.

I can only imagine how magnified it is for fathers with more than one child.

Since I’m partially quoting an 80’s song for the title of this blog, I may as well also admit that I would sometimes crank up Paul Young’s “Every Time You Go Away” when driving back home.

If that sounds like what a brokenhearted teenager would do by injecting more meaning into pop songs after a breakup…well…it’s kind of like that. No one likes to say goodbye to the ones they love…even for a little bit. And every time she goes away, she does take a piece of me with her.

I know I’m blessed. I see my daughter more than many other Dads. My job gives me an incredible amount of flexibility to spend even more time with her when she is with me. I was even self-employed her entire first year of life and fed, cleaned, sang, and rocked her to sleep more times than anyone she’s known.

But it will never be what I had thought our life would be. The good news is that I have been able to adjust and accept the new reality of half the time I was expecting. I don’t want to complain.  I just needed an outlet to mindfully express what I’m assuming other divorced fathers are feeling also. I’m sad. It happens every week. Someone told me that that was what blogs are for – to speak in your voice.

I’ll keep my chin up and tell myself that she knows how much her Daddy loves her and that I’ll see her or talk to her every day until I get to hug and kiss her again.

And until the next game of “upside down girl” or “underdog” swing, the next duet of “Down By The Bay”, or the next  shared milkshake, I’ll remember that she’s only a few days away.

I’ll rely on my faith, excellent friends, and family…

… and I’ll try to avoid the retro radio.

T.


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