In honor of Father’s Day, I have to kick Mr. Jenn into the spotlight this weekend and share a few things he’s taught me about fathering. Ever since I ran into him (with my cart) in Wal-Mart and gave him my number (for insurance purposes), we’ve lived life pretty much happily ever after.
I’ve been watching Mr. Jenn parent from the very beginning because he brought along his son, Big T., and his daughter, Big A., when we got married. They were six and eight when we met, and they will turn 26 and 24 this summer. Since they both live pretty successful lives thus far, I’d say the time he’s spent and the consideration he’s given them have worked.
“They just want attention.”
Mr. Jenn would always say this when Big A. and Big T. would swing from the ceiling or chase each other around the house with sticks. Mr. Jenn happens to have a commanding presence. He could always shut down bad behavior just by making an appearance in the room, but he also knew that much of the Big Worrells little kid foolishness was just their way of asking for our time and attention. During those nutty times, Mr. Jenn would stop what he was doing, get in the floor, and just play for awhile. Inevitably, Big A. and Big T. would calm right down.
The other day, our small children, Lil’ K. and Lil’ P. were creating mayhem of their own while I was trying to clean the house. Lil’ K. was chasing Lil’ P. with her dragon sword and Lil’ P. whipped around and pulled out a chunk of her hair. After correcting both parties, I took them outside and chased them around (with the dragon sword) for about half an hour until they fell on the ground giggling. Mr. Jenn’s fathering example has taught me to allow our children to make us put down our adult problems and play for awhile. Even five minutes makes a big difference.
“Mr. Jenn was the best room mother…er…father ever,” sighed one of my colleagues at school the other day. I had seen Mr. Jenn bringing in cupcakes and cookies to Big A.’s and Big T.’s classes on several occasions before we officially became “an item.” From the time he enrolled the kids in the elementary school where I taught, he was always there, fathering away.
The conservation agency he works for encourages all employees to be active in their children’s schools; upper management also requires everyone to do wildlife education programs for kids. Mr. Jenn would come in to school with deer, bear, and turkey mounts to teach our students about wildlife management. In addition to sweets, he often brought live squirrels or snakes to Big A.’s and Big T.’s classroom parties.
Since we’ve been together, there are few performances or sporting events involving any of our kids that he’s missed. He’s spent hours at tennis matches and sweltering soccer tournaments. Late last fall, he even fixed up his old trailer and built our school’s float for our community Christmas parade. He drove us all down Main Street in his overalls and deer antlers.
Aside from his Room Dad duties, he also coached Big T. in baseball and football. He was also man enough to finally admit that neither sport was Big T.’s thing, so they both took up golf together. On his first attempt at golf in my parents’ back yard, Mr. Jenn launched both the ball and the head of his driver right smack into my dad’s tomato plants. Even though he initially sucked at golf, he was delighted when Big T. made the high school golf team. Mr. Jenn has certainly embraced the sport and plays with Big T. and enjoys free-for-alls and reckless golf cart racing tournaments with all his buddies.
Time, attention, and lots of playing seem to have worked with the first wave of Worrell kids. We can only hope that our second two turn out as wonderfully as the older ones. If the first sixteen years of parenting with Mr. Jenn are any indication, we are in for a heck of a lot of fun in the next sixteen or so. Happy Father’s Day, Babe! I love you!