Daddy Dates

Dad and I have always been close. Ever since my brothers and I were kids, dad has been taking us on “Daddy Dates”. As kids, our dates were organized it by having a specific day of the month for each of us. Mine was on the 9th, Connor’s was on the 28th, and Evan’s was on the 18th. Dad chose those dates because those are the days of our birthdays. Each date was different for each of us. I have no idea what my brothers liked to do during their nights; all I cared about was my night.

My daddy dates were usually about the same, and they would go something like this: Dad would take me to this shopping outlet called the Forum, down in Peachtree Corners, near where we lived. First, we would go to dinner; usually Jason’s Deli, where I usually got macaroni and cheese. Then we would walk down to a kids jewelry store called, “Clair’s” and he would buy me something I wanted. After Clair’s, we would walk down to Barnes & Noble where we would sit in the children’s section, on the little stage, and he would read me a book of my choosing. My favorite book was called A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. He probably read me that book twenty times. We would walk around the store for a bit, looking at all of the merchandise. I remember gawking over the leather journals and fountain pens. Dad bought me hot chocolate from the Starbucks in the store once or twice, but I didn’t like it and I thought Starbucks smelled weird. Now I realize that it was just the smell of coffee that I didn’t like. We would leave Barnes & Noble and walk further down the strip of stores. The Forum had these decorative walls along the sidewalk, and I would always climb up and walk along the wall, holding dad’s hand. When it was time to jump down, dad would catch me and spin me around. I always loved that. Then we would eventually make it to the Great American Cookie store, where dad would buy me a big slice of cookie cake, with extra frosting. Dad would take a “tax” on my treat by taking a bit bite out of it. We would walk into various stores and look around. Dad’s favorite place at the Forum was a suit store called “Joe Banks”. The man who owned the store knew dad, so they would chat while he looked around the store. I always liked looking at the colorful ties. I never cares what we were doing, as long as I got my quality time with dad. Looking back, most of my fondest memories of my childhood were the ones of my daddy dates. Dad and I would walk around the Forum until after dark. We always stopped by the fountain thing in the middle, and he would let me throw a quarter into the water. We basically just did whatever I wanted to do, and I always had the time of my life. I don’t remember going home from our dates. I remember the drive to the Forum and parking and everything else, but I don’t actually remember the date ever ending.

These dates have been going on ever since I can remember. I’m now eighteen years-old and dad and I still go on our dates. They’re different now, but they never stopped. Now my daddy dates usually consist of late night drives, going to CVS to get make up, or riding with dad to one of his hospital drop offs. They’re not nearly as elaborate as they were when I was a kid, but that doesn’t make them any less fun. It’s all just time with my dad. One of our daddy dates started off as a quick trip to get my moms grain and honey and stuff from The Bread Beckers, and ended up at Sticky Fingers in Chattanooga, TN. That was one of my favorites. We walked around Chattanooga, ate dinner, got a cupcake, and were home before midnight. Another one was a business trip to Virginia and Maryland. We took a detour to go see Liberty University. We got to stay at the W Hotel in Washington, D.C. We went to one of the Smithsonian Museums, went to Walter Reed National Medical Center, saw the White House, and saw the first Red movie in the theater. It was so much fun. Most of my BIG daddy dates involved business trips. Dad has to work, obviously, but I get to tag along. I don’t care as long as I’m with dad.

Chattanooga Day Trip

Here is the breakdown for the purpose of these daddy dates, as well as the etiquette with which they should be handled. 

Firstly, why they started in the first place. There are many reasons why daddy dates are a brilliant parenting technique. 

Reason one: Bonding. Mom was a stay-at-home mom. She home-schooled my brothers and me, and took care of us while dad was at work. This worked out great. We got our education, as well as bonding time with mom. She did a fantastic job, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Of course, this means we got A LOT more time with mom than we did with dad. He has always been very involved with us. When he got home from work, he would spend the rest of the night playing with us, and he always came into each of our rooms and prayed over us before he went to bed, regardless of rather or not we were awake. So we got plenty of time with him. But daddy dates allowed my brothers and me to have one-on-one quality time with dad, where we each got to enjoy his undivided attention. Now that I’m an adult, I look back and see how important those dates were. I see how my dad took his time with us and put his own wants and needs aside.
  A good example of this is what usually occurred when dad would take me to an Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field, which was quite often. Dad LOVED to watch the game. Our seats were about five rows behind home plate, and from there we saw everything. If it were up to dad, we would sit there and just watch the game. But I was always hyperactive and wanted to get up and see everything else, except the game. So we would go get cotton candy, run the base up on top, walk through the mist, sit in the giant chairs, walk around, or really anything other than watch the game. And my dad always did it with a joyful heart. He never complained or tried to rush me. He let the whole night be about me. So looking back now, I recognize those little sacrifices that he made for us, and that means the world to me.

Reason Two: Showing us we’re worth it. Daddy dates were fun, yes, but they were also a vital part of teaching us about what it means to be a father. By taking us on daddy dates, dad was able to teach my brothers and me about what it means to not just be a father, but a dad. By taking time out of his busy life to pay attention to us, he showed us that a father WANTS to be around his children, and ENJOYS our company (even if that’s not always true). Dad showed us that having kids isn’t just something you do after you get married, it’s something that you put time, effort, money, and energy into. That’s a hard thing to learn from a mother because mothers are just wired to take care of kids. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Traditionally, men go out and work to provide for the family, and women stay home to cook, clean, and take care of the kids. It is a mother’s natural instinct to want to be with her children. There is nothing wrong with this fact, however, it means that it makes that much more of an impact when a child sees their father going above and beyond the call of duty for them. When a dad goes out of his way to spend time with his kids, it a bigger deal because he is doing something that isn’t necessarily expected of him. Therefore, to kids, that translates to “I don’t have to spend time with you, that’s not my job, but I love you, you’re worth my time and effort, and I WANT to be with you.” That isn’t sexism, it’s just the thought process of a child. I know because this is how I felt.

Reason Three: Setting an example for the future. This reason applies more to daughters than it does to sons. But that doesn’t make it any less important. My daddy dates were an invaluable aspect of my childhood for many reasons. But the most important reason is that by being the first man to take me out on dates, my dad set the standard for how a man should treat me. Let me break this down a bit. Growing up, my parents never TOLD me how I should expect to be treated by a boy/guy/man. Instead, my dad SHOWED me. My daddy dates were so much more than just quality time with dad. They were molding my view of how a man should treat me. This proved to make such a difference in my tween/teen years. Because I got all of the male attention that I needed, I never felt the need to have a boyfriend. I never had to fight for my dad’s attention, so I didn’t need a boyfriend to fill that need. Also, my standards for men were so high that none of the guys I knew fit those standards. I knew what to expect from a man because of how the man in my life treated me and how he treated mom. This has saved me from so much drama, so much hear break, so many distractions, and so many other things. I’ve been free to enjoy my youth without all of that mess.

Secondly, it has to do with your love language.

Love Languages: The five love languages is a topic that I’ll go into a lot more later on. But basically there are Five love languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Gifts
  • Quality Time
As you can probably guess, my love language is off the charts quality time. My parents have been teaching about the FLL ever since I can remember. Because of this, they are able to speak each of our languages. You can have more than just one, and you can be totally opposite from some of them. For example, My LL is Quality time, but I am SO not Physical touch. Dad’s LL is Physical Touch and Acts of Service, but not really quality time. Because of this, he has to put in more effort to speak my language, and I have to put in a lot of effort to remember his. My brothers LL’s are not quality time, so daddy dates were not as big of a deal for them. That’s why I got to do so many fun things with dad; because they really didn’t care to do them. Daddy Date gave dad a great way to speak my LL.
In concluding, never underestimate the importance of attention. Kids long to have their parents attention, other than when they get into trouble. My dad is an incredible father and I wouldn’t be the young lady I am today if he didn’t take that time to show me that he loved me. Saying that he loved me, giving me gifts, hugs, or doing nice things never made as big of an impact on me. But because he knew my Love language, he knew that every moment that he spent with me was how I heard, “I love you”.

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