Greetings, readers and friends, and welcome back for another installment of my thoughts. Today I would like to share about some new developments in my life as “Daddy Daniel” – that’s what my girlfriend’s daughter calls me. She just started Kindergarten, which is, in and of itself, new to me. Dropping her off and picking her up, making lunches, helping make sure homework gets done, and let’s not forget school functions.
I went to my first school function Wednesday night, pizza and playtime in the gym for all the kids/parents in attendance. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect, a byproduct of my occasional social awkwardness. The event was run by a dads group called Watch D.O.G.S (Dads of Great Students), guys who have been dads for much longer than me, which is where my slight anxiety came from. What if I didn’t know how to speak the language of dad? What if I found out that there was something I could be doing as a dad that I was missing? What if there was and THEY found out? So many silly what-ifs parading through my mind, that the moment I got there I did what I always do at social functions, I helped. I helped so that perhaps this group of experienced parents, that already knew each other, might not notice my minor trepidation.
Turns out I was worried about nothing. Within minutes, I was splitting my attention between setting up pizza slices on tables and keeping an eye on my girlfriend’s daughter. It was easy, it was natural, it was fun, even. Whether it was my self-underrated social skill or the other parents talent for making noobs (look it up) feel welcome, I’m not sure. I’m also not really sure it matters, but what I am sure of is that I’m going to be a Watch D.O.G.; that in this case, as in many others in life, the result was more important than how it came to be.
In short: I was nervous, I went, I socialized, I conquered. Not only did I hand out pizza and water bottles to parents and students, I found an ongoing project. I didn’t just find a project, I may have created it myself out of thin air. The details aren’t all ironed out yet, but I volunteered to create and maintain a blog for the group. You see, the group has fallen by the wayside in the last couple years, and they are trying to make a comeback. I may be a new dad, learning to speak “dadese” (if that’s even a thing), but I can use a computer and I can proficiently string together various words to form very readable sentences. With that in mind, it seemed natural that I use my modest talents to find a way to help, for the benefit of the school and it’s students, specifically my girlfriend’s daughter.
We were understandably excited, that night, the other parents and I. They found someone to help get the word out about them and I found a new project. But, as I fell asleep later, it hit me: I had committed myself to creating something new for a school group after being involved for only one night.
Wow…ummm, just wow. In a good way, really. I’m a dad now, and dads, get involved, right? So…I got involved. I just hadn’t anticipated getting involved so much, so quickly. But that’s just what I did, and it feels great. I am definitely still nervous about the whole thing, but it has taken on a different quality. It is a good nervous. I’m doing it because I want to help, because I want my girlfriend’s daughter to be proud of me (my girlfriend, too), and ultimately, because I want to be a good dad.
As it stands, I’m sort of proud of myself for taking the first step of showing up and then taking the next step of getting involved, despite my nerves (maybe even because of my nerves). Maybe I know more about being a dad than I had led myself to believe, and maybe I am overthinking the whole dad thing. I’m leaning towards the latter, truth be told, but who cares? Again, the why isn’t as important as the fact that I was myself in that moment and it was a resounding success. I am doing community service, it feels great and it has been a boost to my confidence as a dad.
I will post more about the project in the coming days and weeks. If you have thoughts, suggestions and even constructive criticism, know that it’s welcome. You have likely all heard the platitude (?): “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, I’m a village member now, and you could be a virtual member of my village. All you have to do is take a moment to comment and show your support. Every little bit helps.