Editor’s Note: For many of us in the Northeast, the past month has been a rough one. We know Hurricane Sandy has tested us in so many ways so we had to share this heartfelt story by NYC Dads Group member and guest blogger, Wayne Schatzel, as he has the ultimate bonding experience with his daughter during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“This was the best weekend ever.”
Normally for any parent that is sweet music to your ears. It is even more so for a part-time parent. I am a single dad of a beautiful 10-year-old daughter and I get to spend time with her every other weekend and one night a week. That kind of arrangement does not feel natural for the child or parent. So when we are together I do my best to make sure I am making it quality time with her.
When Hurricane Sandy swept through Long Island last month, the flood waters ruined the house and belongings that my daughter and her mom lived in. It was difficult to see the hurt on my little girl’s face as she saw all her toys and the only home she has ever known destroyed. The following weekend was my scheduled weekend with my daughter. I worried about what I could do to help soften the impact the storm was going to have on her life. I was still without power and heat and with the gasoline shortages and bridges being closed my options were limited on what I could do.
So we got up early each morning and ate hard-boiled eggs. Thank goodness for the gas stove. I boiled a pot of water for showers and we talked about colonial days and how they would have to bathe. We would play games in the house and have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. Then we would bundle up and grab a frisbee and a soccer ball and walk up to the local high school and play on the football/soccer field taking turns shooting goals on each other. Then we would take a break and pretend to get caught in the net like fish. When we got tired of that we would have a Frisbee catch or I should say run because it was a windy weekend and on an open field that little piece of plastic sure could cover a lot of ground. We walked our way back home rosy cheeked and tired. Well, maybe it was more me that was the tired one. Afterwards we went out and had dinner at a diner with Grammy and Grandpa. Then we finished the night back home with playing a little Boggle and Pictureka on the iPad until it was time for bed.
On Sunday night when my ex-wife came to pick up my daughter, my little girl gave me a big hug and a kiss and told me those magic words; “Daddy, this was the best weekend ever.” I could have cried.
The one thing that she really needed is the same thing all children want from their parents, their undivided attention. Even though I try my best to spend quality time it is not as concentrated as it should be. Normally we would watch TV together and she would play with her Barbies or other toys and I would check email, Facebook, or be on the phone. That is not the same thing as being really engaged and participating with each other. So now my weekends include an unplugged day with no electronics but just real one on one time for the whole day.
Thank you, Sandy, for the lesson.