During my first week on the island, I instituted Daddy Days for Marcus and Nora, who are 6 and 4 respectively. On Tuesdays, I pick up Marcus early from school and spend the afternoon with him alone. And I do the same for Nora on Wednesdays. The rules are simple:
- Only I and the child. Nobody else.
- We do one or two things that both of us want to do.
- I’m 100% present and engaged.
I love Daddy Days. And the children love them, too, because they talk about it all the time and look forward to them every week. We sometimes do extravagant things like watercolor, hiking, and fishing, and sometimes we do simple things like Lego, reading, and picking berries.
When we were in Boston, we had Daddy Days, too. Oh, maybe once every 2 months at best. But they always made me immensely happy. When you have two or more children at the same time, you’re a referee. Or a maid. But when you’re fully engaged one-on-one with a child, you actually have startlingly rich conversations and interactions. We reach for common ground: the child tries to act more like an adult, I try to act more like a child, and we meet happily in the middle. Neither the parent nor the children can do this if it’s not one-on-one.
Now that I’m not working and living at a place with few distractions, I spend a lot more time with the children in total. But I treasure Daddy Days above all.
Last week, I taught Marcus to draw a map of the island with all the places that we frequent. Marcus said, “When I become a dad, I want to teach my kids all these things, too.” It was a deeply moving moment for me. Because a child couldn’t pay his father a better compliment.