On weekend mornings, Will gets up when Wildling does. They go into the kitchen and make waffles, then they eat the waffles at the computer – she sits on his lap and watches him play Angry Birds. It’s their special time together.
When Wildling was a baby, we enrolled her in swim classes at a year-round indoor swim school. Every Saturday from the time she was eleven months until she was three and graduated into the big pool, Will took her to swim class and swam with her. He loved it; it was the highlight of his week. I never went with them – if she saw me in the parent room watching, she would cry and cry and cry. When it was just the two of them, she didn’t cry and she had a great time. They even appear in a training video for the teachers at the school – that’s how great they did in the water together. Will was so sad when she was out of the baby classes and he didn’t get to swim with her. That’s why Mellow takes swimming lessons now – it gives Will special time to bond with her in the water.
Will is in charge of bath and bedtime too. We started that routine to give me a brief break in the evenings. He gives Wildling a bath, makes sure she gets ready for bed, and reads her a story. Sometimes he snuggles with her – “Snuggle with me for five minutes, Papa,” she commands. He does Mellow’s bath now, and eventually, when nursing isn’t a factor, he’ll be putting her to bed and reading her stories as well.
The girls both love him so much. When he comes home from work, Mellow gets a huge grin on her face and reaches for him. Wildling immediately demands he drop everything and play with her. He is the fun parent. He and Wildling play games like the ‘bridge game’ which involves him letting Wildling walk across his back and jump off him, the ‘boing game’ which involves her balancing on his leg and then he bounces her high into the air and down onto the bed, and ‘flying dinosaur,’ in which she sits on a stuffed dinosaur and he runs through the house making her fly in the air.
They do chores together too. We have a pretty big garden, and Will is in charge of watering. From the time she could walk, Wildling would help him, mostly just holding the hose. She still follows him around the yard (sometimes they play the ‘running game’ where they race from the dirt pile to the other side of the yard and back again) and tries to help. He teaches her about plants and lets her eat the leaves off the peppermint and basil.
Wildling looks just like Will. She is his little clone. I’m not sure there’s anything of me or my side of the family in her. They even have matching belly buttons. If you knew Will and had never seen Wildling, I guarantee that you’d be able to pick her out of a crowd. Put a thousand kids together, and if you have seen Will, you’ll be able to look at that crowd and point her out, no problem (hint: also look for the kid screaming – she hates crowds, about as much as he does). There are many things she has said about how she thinks and feels, and many reactions she has, that are exactly as Will was as a child.
Mellow looks like Will, too, but I think you can also tell she’s mine (you’d never guess I was Wildling’s mother though). Strangers have looked at Mellow and commented on how she looks like her father. His genes are strong.
Sometimes Will gets frustrated with the kids. I do too. It’s only natural, especially when dealing with a strong-willed yet emotionally fragile and needy child like Wildling. Sometimes he gets mad and he can’t handle the screaming fits (Wildling) or the waking up at three am (also Wildling). He gets tired of having someone yank out his chest hair (that’s Mellow) and claw his eyes (also Mellow). He’s the reason that Wildling calls drivers of other cars jackasses and sometimes uses other pretty bad words. But at least she uses them properly.
He is the best father that I know. I love him, and our girls love him, and I think we’ve built an awesome life for ourselves.
Happy Father’s Day, Will.