On being a dad

Trent Ernst, Editor


I never wanted to be a dad.

Kids…scared me.

Of course, girls scared me, too, so back in the day, I was pretty sure that having kids wasn’t even going to be an option.

But somewhere along the line I met a girl, and we did the whole fall in love and get married thing. And she wanted kids.

And I wasn’t sure. I wanted to do things while we were young. Travel the world, footloose and fancy free.

But we never did. The farthest we ever got was Saskatchewan, and that’s not really all that impressive in terms of globrotting. Barely qualifies as province hopping.

So, after close to ten years of waiting, we finally decided to take the plunge, the wife finally convincing me with the age old argument “even if we don’t get pregnant, it’ll be fun trying.”

Well, we tried, and succeeded, and you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was so much fun that we did it again a few years later, leaving me with a pair of daughters, which basically spells the extinction of the family name from this branch of the clan. (As my elder brother has decided, to the worlds infinite relief, not to breed.)

If you go searching online for information about father’s day, the majority of news stories are all about what to get dad for father’s day. With the one exception of the story about Westjet’s father’s day surprise, every single new story about father’s day is a variation on Buy Dad Stuff.: “10 Awesome High-Teck Father’s Day Gift Ideas for 2014” is the top hit, followed by “9 gifts under $15,” followed by “Top Ten Father’s Day Gifts that Will Make Dad Proud.”

While there are certain bits of stuff that I appreciate (more camera gear? Yes, please), I’m finding that I’m not a big fan of Random Crap. Okay, sure the idea of having a pair of cuff links that double as a WiFi hotspot is cool, but the last time I wore cuff links was… okay, so I’ve never worn cuff links. I’ve never even seen a pair of cuff links in person. I am not stylish enough to even consider this.

I will admit to having a soft spot for the idea of the BioLite Camp Stove, another product recommended, but only because it’s a backpacking stove that will charge your electronics. I know you don’t need to bring electronics while out backpacking, but I like listening to books while I’m walking.

The other reason something like this appeals to me, though, is because I have had dreams of going on a backpacking trip with my kids ever since, well, since before I even dreamed of having kids.

I may have told this story before, but bear with me.

Shortly after getting married, the wife and I went camping in Mount Robson Provincial Park. She was young and foolish and in love with me, and I persuaded her to go for a hike on the Berg Lake trail with me.

As we walked, I watched other people heading out for overnight trips along the trail. Some were friends out for an adventure. Others were couples. But a surprising number were parents and kids.

As I watched them out hiking, I discovered I yearned for that experience, of hiking with my kids. Of discovering the beauty of creation together. Of teaching my love of the outdoors and respect for nature to my children.

With the eldest daughter turning eleven this year, it’s about time that dream becomes a reality. It’s hard to get away from the paper for any length of time, but I’m hoping that we might be able to slip away for three or four days towards the end of summer. But we’ll see.

My youngest daughter, on the other hand, has little interest in such nonesense. She’s a self professed tom boy (who likes wearing dresses), but she’s a little young to consider the idea of walking 24 km in a day as “fun.”

But I’m off my main point (quiet, you) which is this: stuff? Doesn’t really matter in the long run. Stuff is, well, stuff. It doesn’t have lasting value. And as much as I love my iPad, or my computer, or my camera, these worth of these things pale in comparision to the value of the relationship I have with my kids.

So this Father’s Day, I challenge you dads to not just sit back and let your kids get you stuff, but take the time to do. To be. To take the day as an opportunity to build and strengthen your relationship with your kids. Because of all the things you will leave behind in this world, your kids are the most important.