Back before we had kids, before we were married, back when life as we now know it was but a distant “dream,” Friday nights were dedicated to fun. Nothing crazy, mind you. No raves, or hallucinogens, or anything weird. Just regular, run-of-the-mill fun, with the occasional hijinks mixed-in.
It would usually start with happy hour at the Blarney Stone, and end with a late-night breakfast at the Quick-Cup after the bars told us we had to leave. In between, well, my kids read this blog. So, just regular fun stuff. More than once, though, I crawled through the Leprechaun door at Coleman’s Irish Pub. Ah, Good times. Good times.
Just about every Friday for a couple of years, I had the same fun-filled goal and a similar result.
|Yes. I did. There |
When my then-girlfriend, now-wife would suggest that we break from tradition and go to a movie on a Friday night, I’d be like, “No way. That’s what our parents do on Friday nights.”
Fast forward 15-plus years, and going to a movie on a Friday night doesn’t sound lame at all. In fact, just renting a movie sounds nice. Even fun. Sure, I’ll probably be asleep before it’s over, and there won’t be any late night diner trips involved (the cholesterol alone, rules that out). But it still has the makings of a fun night. Recently, it has even become something of a tradition.
That is, until a new tradition was born.
A few weeks back, my wife was working late – trapped in her home office as Friday evening arrived. I served dinner and cleaned the dishes, while the girls and their little brother bounced off the walls with nothing to do. There weren’t any good movies to rent that night, for the kids or the adults.
Instead, we decided to kick-off the first night of the weekend with a “dance party.” Which means I spun some Katy Perry and Bruno Mars tunes on my laptop while the kids danced around like pop-stars who’d had too much sugar and lost their choreography. In our house, dance parties are commonplace, as are plays and improvised musical performances. Sometime, I feel like I’m living in the Cosby Show.
Usually, I just watch the dancing. Kind of like the first dance I went to in 8th grade. And 9th grade. And 10th grade. My seven-year-old calls this a pattern. This dance party, though, my kids coaxed me onto the impromptu dance floor in our living room. Before we knew it, they're taking turns being swung around by a dad who's watched one-too-many episodes of Dancing With The Stars. (For the record, one episode is too many, which means I’m way over the limit).
|Where are the kids?|
When I ran out of moves and breath, I started acting like I had no idea how to dance at all -- it wasn’t that hard. They called it “Dancing With The Dummy.” Each took a turn or two.
|Stacked like cord wood.|
Luckily, they were my kids, and I knew how to neutralize them.
Sure, it sounds like an oxymoron. But vigorous tickling can make someone beg for waterboarding. Especially, when they’re too young to know what waterboarding is.
After my successful escape from the Daddy Pile-On, we moved on to Hide-and-Seek in the living room. We learned quickly that there aren’t too many places to hide in our living room. A few long curtains, and some fluffy couch cushions, that's all. Somehow, it kept us happy for a solid half-an-hour.
|No. They couldn't possibly...|
The night went on and the games continued, each leading into another impromptu romp, while mom typed away at the computer. She'd finished work by then, and decided to do some online window-shopping, rather than join the ruckus in the living room. And, oh, what a ruckus it was. By bedtime, all four kids were exhausted and ready to pass out. As was I.
I’d thought it a fun, but forgettable Friday night – no movie, no major hijinks, and certainly no Coleman’s.
|Geez, maybe we could down-size.|
When I finished mowing the lawn after lunch that day, I came in the house to find out the kids were all hiding in the living room – really hiding. While I mowed, they had hatched a plan, clearing games from the cabinets to create real hiding places. I knew then that our random night of silly games was something more than that in the minds of my children.
And when the next Friday night came, we did it again. We added a few new silly, made-up games to keep it fresh – like “Stand Up Dad,” where the kids try to make me stand up as I pretend to be half-asleep – and they again had a blast.
Years from now, they won’t remember half the crap I tell them each day -- all the random facts and life lessons that spill from my mouth in their general direction. Yet I have a feeling they’ll remember “Daddy Game Night.” And while it’s been a decade since I’ve even been to the Blarney Stone, and I no longer fit through the Leprechaun door at Coleman's, I promise you that Friday nights have never been more fun.