If you are like me, your favorite day of the year is NFL draft day. I know my pulse was pounding as the NFL commissioner took the mic this past Thursday night. My lips mouthed the words as he spoke. With the 5th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select, "Dadaaaa, wipe me please! Dadaaaa! WIPE ME!"
My four year old daughter was urgently calling me from the bathroom after what was I believe her third bowel movement of the day. With the future of the entire Jaguars franchise in the balance, I scrambled off the couch towards the bathroom with the speed of Telvin Smith containing on a halfback toss. Like Blake Bortles checking down his reads under heavy pressure, I went through my own progression: Wipe, flush, underpants back on, princess dress back on, wash hands, hug. Bathroom duty now complete, I rocketed back towards the couch like TJ Yeldon breaking through to the second level, prepared to catch the introduction of the newest savior of the Jaguars for all posterity. Imagine my surprise when I found my 2 year old son sitting in my spot, with the remote in his little hands and a huge smile on his face.
Dads, you can find out about kids events where you might meet
Telvin Smith and The Roar of the Jaguars, like this YMCA Healthy Kids Event Yesterday, on www.fun4firstcoastkids.com!
Now instead of Roger Goodell, the cartoon antics of Masha and the Bear filled my 50 inch plasma screen. Resigned to my fate, I gritted my teeth into a smile and sat down next to him. We watched the cartoon together while he giggled and my inner soul wept in anguish. But hey, we dads know that it’s all good, right? Because the pain of missing a critical moment in Jaguars history will eventually fade, but the memory of Masha clocking Bear in the back of the head with a hockey puck will last a lifetime.
But seriously folks, I really love being a dad in Jacksonville. It’s the BEST city in the U.S. to raise a family. Whenever I'm off work and my better half is taking a well-deserved break from parenting, there are so many awesome activities to do with kids here in Jax. For example, when the weather is nice I love taking them over to the beach. The beach is great for me because I get fewer shaming looks from strangers when my future nudist son decides to remove all his clothes and proudly expose himself. It is also occasionally possible to get my daughter to actually take her nap, after she has been running wide open in the hot sun for 6+ hours, building sand castles and splashing in the surf and chasing seagulls, etc. The only real downside to the beach is that the backseat of dad’s carefully maintained and meticulously cleaned car gets caked with a grimy mixture of sand, shells, 50 SPF sunscreen residue and rejected snacks. That’s why if possible, I really like to borrow Mom's car to take to the beach since it is already sandy and full of crushed Cheerios and melted chocolate. At least I hope that was chocolate.
Besides the beach, another great activity for First Coast dads is taking the kids to Hooters! Wait, are moms reading this, too? What I meant to say is, taking them to the library! The library is awesome for dads and kids because they have books about EVERYTHING that your child loves. One kid is obsessed with dinosaurs? Get her a dinosaur book. Other kid is crazy about trains? Grab him a train book off the shelf. Find a book on a subject that each kid is interested in and you may get five, ten, or even FIFTEEN minutes of uninterrupted free time on your phone to update your fantasy lineup, browse Craigslist for 4x4 parts, or plan the conversion of your extra bedroom into a man cave. When they get tired of reading you can let them pick out a HUGE stack of books to check out. You probably already know this, but books are great and you should encourage reading. Let them explore the world through their imaginations, not just parked in front of the TV all day. Getting them a head start on reading will also mean less time you need to spend helping them with their homework in the future, and that leaves more time for you to perfect that championship fantasy lineup from the comfort of your man cave.
Basically, there is no shortage of fun activities for dads with kids in this town. You can go to a Suns game, the Zoo, Hemming park, the mall, museums, restaurants, theaters, and a million playgrounds. So why should moms be allowed to hog all the fun with the kids? Tell the boss you are taking a day off, grab the keys to the mom-mobile and take the rug rats somewhere fun! If you are ever out of fresh ideas, you can check out fun4firstcoastkids.com, I know the moms who run it and they take fresh to a whole new level. I'll be back here with more tips for dads right after I vacuum these Cheerios off my floorboards.
Guest Blogger: Hugh McClelland
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