Why daddy games are more important than a broken vase or three.

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

It’s not a place for moms.

No offense. You just wouldn’t understand, the kids and I. Dad, and his cubs. While we’re in that place, you can catch up on Pinterest, or do some crafts. Just ignore the pillows flying and, oh yeah, the noise.

It’ll sound like a zoo meets a train station meets an Iron Maiden concert, but it’s all smoke. No mirrors.

Imagination rules. Dad morphs into Crocodile Hunter. Or the Big Mean Bear, from Over the Hedge. Even Dr. Sheeka-laka-WOO-hoo, the friendly, bumbling dentist.

Welcome to the land of Daddy Games: Low on decorum, high on disruption, but never short on love and bonding, between a dad and his potato-sack-sized kids. The squeals, fatherly back pain and occasional broken glassware attest to this.

These games, dads, will go down in history. Family history. Playing elephant. Tutoring a new generation of all-star wrestlers. Sharing the finer points of guerrilla warfare with couch pillows. The kids will remember long after our knees give out.

Dad games have elevated

Our grandfathers competed with so little. Seriously. Back in the day, just bouncing a kid on your knee qualified as a rocking good time. Now? Dad’s challengers include Nintendo DS and Webkinz and the Disney Channel, on high-def.

Dad of 2012? You must BRING IT.

It can’t be forced. So much happens naturally. Free play gives birth to the best games we invent. A tickling index finger develops a Mexican accent and assumes the name Braulio. He longs to return to Tickle Central, to rejoin his friends.

Tickle Central lies squarely in that horribly ticklish zone directly between a kid’s collarbones. (Braulio, AKA Uno, became adored and reviled by my girls, for his persistence. Well, reviled, mostly. He makes Alex Rodriguez look like Drew Brees.)

What did you and your pop do?

Dads, what do you play with the kids? Moms, what do you hear from the next room when it’s just papa and the kidlets? Uno knew all three girls. The Brothers, a trio of thuggy boys too dumb to capture her, were originally Marie’s foil.

Grace begat the Kissasaurus, a lispy, loving dinosaur who sounds like Mike Tyson and gives kisses like there’s no tomorrow.

hed2 here

Necessity creates some of these characters. Dr. Sheeka-laka-WOO-hoo answered the call to help Elise keep her pearly whites brushed every night. His uncommon name – stress on the “WOO!” –discovered shockingly so much irrelevant matter in Elise’s mouth.

Logs. Racoons. Bumble bees.

He found tons of stuff that didn’t belong in there, all while ensuring toothbrush got all teeth between the giggles.

The Crocodile Hunter had just tracked down the last known living Marieasaurs and Graceasaurs and Elisasaurs, in remote caves that resembled dad’s closet, protecting their young. These games prove lots to me too.

That even when the kids realize I’m not the tallest dude on earth, or the strongest, or that I will always get everything on their birthday wish list, we’ll still have this.

If a dad takes the time to play, no matter how old his babies get, they’ll remember that when they see a bear in the zoo.

The might even miss their favorite affectionate dinosaur.

Or even the best fake dentist they’ve ever visited.

And hopefully, they’ll let themselves play. No matter how old they get.



  1. kathyatkissingthefrog says:

    Dads do bring a different level of play than moms do; however, being the mom of all boys, one of my favorite things to do is wrestle around on the floor with them. It starts usually when I am trying to do yoga or sit-ups, and they attack me like little animals climbing all over me. Annoyed at first, I am soon rolling around with them, laughing so hard my abs get a good work-out anyway! 🙂

    1. See, that’s something that should be on the Discovery Channel! I think there should be a Tickle Salutation or Downward Facing Mom pose for such situations. Love it when mom gets in on the act!

  2. Even when Little Guy was little, each parent had their own separate “job”…and mine was less tickling and more cuddling. Still rings true – the guys tickle and thunder, while I get to kiss the scrubbed knees and sing him to sleep. Love your post!

    1. Thanks Jenn! These girls definitely have no interest in cuddling with me during Movember, at least. I think the tickling and cuddling ought to be just about 50/50, don’t you?

  3. This is a great post! It’s true! The daddy games is certainly something we can compete with. I know I can be fun in my own way, but there is that special connection with dads that moms could never replace. The tickling and creative “plays” are specialties that most men have because I think most men have that kid inside them much more so than moms.

    Moms are there for cuddling when it’s time to settle down and rest while most dads are there for the fun stuff.

    1. Thanks Kristina! We dads are pretty much kids who have to pay mortgages and shave their faces. I’m like the big brother/pet bear for the kids who can also make a fluffy omelette and drive them to school. As the kids get older, too, I notice the snuggle quota for dad goes down. I’m trying not to think about that.

  4. Chris Carter says:

    LOVE THIS!!! I always love your posts though… I just dive right in there with you…in your words and your world. That amazingly fun and imaginative playful world. You have created an artform in fatherhood. 🙂 Your girls are so damn lucky.

    1. Thanks Chris. I stunk at math, couldn’t hit a fastball to save my life, and can’t even stand on a skateboard. I’m not convinced I am doing the fatherhood thing right, but it sure is fun.

  5. AnnMarie says:

    I love this post because it is a window in how you play with the girls. I LOVE the index finger with the Mexican accent. Much funnier than the thumb with the Russian accent that Leo tries to do. 🙂

    1. I love that window. The girls have threatened to snap Uno right in half, so he’s not so endeared here. My guess is they’d crack him even if he were Russian.

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