By Rob Furlong
"Gramps! Gramps! Can we do super hero and dragging please?" Over the past two months this has been a constant question that I have heard from the lips of my grandchildren during their stay with us.
What, exactly, is "super hero and dragging" I hear you ask? It involves me picking up each of my grandchildren (there are four in this particular family!), holding them in the plank position while I simulate flying them around the house Superman style on their way to bed. The dragging bit was where they held onto my ankles and I would drag them across our slippery wooden floors.
This has been my regular, night time routine for each one of them while their family has stayed with us as they prepare to move east for a few years.
Why am I telling you this?
Because while they have been living with us I have been reminded that you never stop being a father, never.
Having six extra people living in our house for two months, four of them under the age of seven, has been challenging but it has also been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in a long time.
It would have been tempting to have "checked out" when they all descended on my family back in early June and just wait out the next two months until they left for the East Coast. But I chose to engage with them and make this as enjoyable a time for all of us as possible.
And so I discovered many things.
I discovered that my one-year-old grandson has an adorable smile that lights up when you do one of those stupid things that grandfathers are renowned for.
I learned that my three-year-old grandson expresses his gratitude and love by throwing his arms around you and giving you a big hug.
I found out that my five-year-old granddaughter cannot stop giggling as you "super hero" her around the house.
And I also learned that my eldest granddaughter, though excited about moving to the other side of the country was also understandably sad to be leaving her extended family and friends behind.
I would have missed all this and more if I had simply chosen to withdraw into myself and ride things out until they left – I'm glad I chose to engage with them.
Let me speak to you as one Dad (and Grandfather) to another. I know that you are busy and that at the end of the day you need some space when you arrive home. Coming home to a house full of excited (sometimes whinging!) kids is no picnic. I have been in fairly demanding roles for most of my working life so I understand what this feels like.
But the reality is that we only have the briefest of moments with our children. It's a cliché but it's also true – they really do grow up quickly!
Don't abdicate the role that you have as a Dad or a Grandfather to someone else. Only you can be that person in their lives. So get involved with your kids and resolve to do something stupid with them as well, like "super hero" them to bed!
Is it worth it? The sad look in my granddaughter's eyes as she told me the day she left that "we couldn't do the 'super hero and dragging' tonight" tells me it is.
You're a Dad. You have been blessed with beautiful kids. Don't waste a minute of it! •