After carefully selecting which animal will be sacrificed for the greater good of our family, I lay it down on our kitchen counter and plunge my knife into its neck. As the knife goes in, the whole situation makes me laugh out loud. My 4-year-old daughter standing next to me, watching this all happen, asks why I am laughing. I know she doesn’t have the understanding to grasp why it’s funny so I say, “Just cause.”
After I make the cut I reach down to pull out what’s inside. There’s no guts, no gore, no blood, just fuzz. The animal is one of my daughter’s stuffed animals. I cut it open because she has a thing with fuzz.
When she was younger (2 years old) she used to pull hair out from the left side of her head. For the longest time, we couldn’t figure out why she did it. We worried that she might have an early on-set anxiety disorder. Turns out she simply likes the comfort of something soft in her hand, and at 2 years old, her hair was the easiest thing she could access.
The way we learned this was when our dog chewed a hole in one of her stuffed animals. Over the course of the next few weeks, we noticed her hair was getting longer and that particular stuffed animal was getting thinner. When our daughter would suck her thumb, we began to notice that there was fuzz nestled between her four remaining finger tips and palm. We then connected the dots.
Since then, we make sure to keep a bag full of fuzz on hand in a drawer that she can reach. And in an emergency situation, when that supply gets low, an unfortunate stuffed animal gets the short straw.
It’s interesting how fatherhood brings funny things your way. Things like how a fuzz fetish will stop your 2-year-old from pulling out her own hair. Or how you will be called upon to cut the throat of a beloved plush toy to enable that obsession.
The reason I laughed while cutting open the stuffed animal was the realization of how absurd my animal sacrifice was. But then I realized that’s what it means to be a dad. You do weird and silly things for the sake of your kids, especially when you’re a dad of all girls. You have princess dress-up parties and Disney song dance parties. You let them do your nails and makeup. You play Barbies and end up carrying around naked Barbies in your back pocket. (Folks in our church find that one to be the most humorous on a Sunday morning.)
With each passing year, I’m struck with just how much being a dad is a great privilege. Not everyone gets the chance. For those who do, the time flies by.
If I’m honest, there are days when these awkward and funny moments end up being more annoying than endearing. Which is a sign that I’ve lost the plot. I’ve taken for granted the immense privilege of raising kids. But during those moments when my perspective is in the right place I cherish every second.
So, no matter what stage of life you’re in as a dad. No matter what funny or silly things come your way, embrace the strange moments when they come. It’s in those moments you’ll develop a connection with your kids. You’ll build a true relationship. You’ll create memories. And in the process, your love for them will exponentially grow. Besides, before you know it those moments will be gone, and you’ll find yourself wishing for them back.