By: Kipp Tribble
Who doesn’t love their kids? (Um, Dad, are you reading this?) When you get trapped into a relationship, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that kids will be on the way as soon as the bio clock starts ticking away from inside your gal’s uterus. Fear not fellow dudes. As you’ve probably learned from my deep, deep well of wisdom thus far, is just because kids sleep under the same roof as you, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while still being a semi-present father. No, Dad of the Year, I’m not saying you should take your kids to an AC/DC concert, but I am saying there are plenty of options out there that you won’t mind doing while you are hanging with the kids. I have personally tested out all of these and yeah, I’d do them again.
A Day at the Amusement Park
Amusement parks are dying out across the world, but there are still some great ones left. Kids love them and you have to admit that you love them, too. You can take your kids on their first roller coaster ride, which will likely require a change of underwear for them — or maybe for you, too. You can make a lunch out of funnel cakes and walk around wet for nine hours after you hit one of the water rides. It may be a hassle standing in line to get in and the kids will be complaining like they’ve never complained before, but once you are all inside, you’ll be walking around in pure bliss. Just make sure to save some energy for the exhausting drive home. Unless one of your kids has a Learner’s Permit already. That’d be kind of sweet.
Suggestion: Don’t get sucked into the ring toss game. That thing is rigged.
At your age, heading into an arcade by yourself these days may be the makings of a restraining order, but taking your kids — girls or boys — into an arcade means you’re a pretty cool dad. There’s something about playing the games in an arcade as opposed to the confines of your living room that gets the juices pumping. And for those of you who try and minimize the gratuitous violence your kids are exposed to, an arcade is a safer bet than most of the games you can buy or rent for your system at home. It’ll cost you a roll of quarters or two, but you’ll quickly be whisked back to 7th grade when your parents would drop you off for an afternoon of games, stone-washed jeans, and an Orange Julius at the mall — except now you have kids with you that are allegedly biologically yours. The challenge might be dialing back your competitiveness when you start to get your teenage mojo back. You might not want the kids to see that side of you. Because it’s kind of embarrassing.
Suggestion: Pac Man. The kids today need to be introduced to the legend of video games.
Whether you want to admit it or not, the geeks at Pixar know how to spin a yarn. Their movies are billed as family films — and rightfully so — but I have to say that I’m into them. All of them. The beauty of Pixar movies, aside from kids wanting to watch them over and over again, is there’s not a minute that goes by in the films that neglects the fact there is probably an adult watching. I’m not saying I’m going to pop in Toy Story 2 when I’m at home alone (that moment is reserved for DVDs like Airplane or Basic Instinct), but I certainly am not going to protest when one of my daughters throws it in. As you know, or will soon find out, when a kid finds a movie they like they stick with it…like every single day. But the Pixar collection is something I can take and not want to throw my DVD player at the next-door neighbor’s cat or put my child up for adoption. Besides, those adoption agencies really drag their feet. And cats move pretty quick…
Suggestion: I’ll see you in line the first weekend Toy Story 3 is out. Buy your tickets early.
This is perhaps the most selfish thing you can pick, but the kids still love it. The kids will like the grand spectacle of the event and love the barrel of popcorn and assorted junk food you buy for them while you enjoy watered down beer and dreaming that you could have played pro football/baseball/basketball/hockey/soccer – just kidding, no one in the US cares about soccer. Your seating assignments are less important with the kids than if you are hanging at the game with the guys, so don’t drop too much on tickets. For my money, I prefer a basketball game because it requires less time and I once made a half court shot when I was by myself in my high school gym, so I’m connected to the game like that. Baseball games can provide some cool views and the chance you will get hit by a ball in the stands, and football games will cost you an arm and a leg, but they rock. And if you want your kids to be exposed to constant cursing and dudes beating each other in the face, take them to a hockey game. But don’t blame me when your kids end up in prison.
Suggestion: Don’t send your seven-year-old to refresh your beer. Security frowns on that.
Hit the Beach
The beach is perfect for a day out with the kids because you get to sample the best of many man-worlds. You can relax in the water or sleep for the entire afternoon on the beach. Just make sure someone is watching the kids (if I have to tell you this, you need to see a professional). But the main bonus for hitting the beach is being able to sneak a peek at the lady landscape from behind the shield of sunglasses. Obviously, beaches are going to vary — such as a Kansas lake beach won’t quite duplicate a San Diego beach — but every beach will offer you the same sort of samplings. Rest, chilling, and staring at beach candy. Oh, and if you do want to play with your kids while you are there, you can do that as well.
Suggestion: Don’t let your kids bury you in the sand. 43 showers later and it will still be coming out of you.
Attend a Food Festival
Food festivals are awesome because they are an excuse to eat until you are ordered to stop by someone in the medical industry. For your own safety, of course. The great thing is they will also have a lot of kid stuff to do for your young ones so you don’t have to keep them entertained with your stories of yesteryear. They’ll have things like giant bouncy castles and cotton candy villages that’ll take all the pressure off of you to keep them from getting bored. And they will spend hours in those things. As amazing as it is, your kids will also not mind standing in the line for the petting zoo upwards of four hours while you hang at the booth next to it shoveling crab cakes down your gullet. Just make sure to arrive early while there is still food to be had, then get the kids started on some kids’ stuff. Then commence to eat more and more…and plan your open heart surgery for the following week.
Suggestion: Sausage. It does the body good.