Sports Dad and Little Girl

Many of you know that our daughter got engaged recently. The wedding will be near the end of the summer. We couldn’t be more thrilled! Amanda is actually my step-daughter. She is Barbara’s daughter from her first marriage, but she’s been a part of my life since she was 3 1/2 … and I couldn’t possibly love her more.

I’d never really seen myself as the father of a little baby. But I had always figured I would get married some day and have children, so jumping in with a child Amanda’s age seemed just about perfect. But, of course, there were challenges. She still had her father, so what would my role be?

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In truth, I know I was a more lenient parent than Barbara really liked. As I saw it (and as we like to say in my family), I often felt that my job was to “try to keep the clubhouse loose.” Didn’t mean I wouldn’t be firm if I had to be, and when I sometimes got told “You’re not the boss of me!” I knew it wasn’t that Amanda didn’t see me as a legitimate authority or thought I was trying to replace her father. The truth was, even as young as 4 and 5, she had a pretty strong sense of herself as a person and felt that she was entitled to a role in the decisions made about her. She was just as likely to challenge her mother that way. And probably her father too.

I had grown up in a very close family. My brothers and I bonded with our father (and each other) through sports, but there was a lot more to the relationships than that. Same with Amanda and me. In her younger days, she always went to schools that were closer to her father’s neighborhood. That meant when she was staying with us, I always drove her to school in the morning on my way to work and picked her up at daycare on the way home. We had some of our best times talking to each other on those car rides together.

Still, sports would be a special part of my bond with Amanda too. She was fearless playing all sorts of games with my brothers and me at our family cottage. She was never (and still isn’t) much of a hockey fan, but Amanda loved baseball. I took her to her first Blue Jays game when she was about six years old. I have never liked to leave a game before it was over, but I was going to let her make the decisions that day. I didn’t want this to feel like a chore she had to get through.

Cottage

My family has great seats, which certainly helped, but after a few innings, Amanda said she wanted to go up to the small play area they had in the SkyDome for young kids. She played there for a while, and when she was done, I fully expected she’d want to go home. Instead, she said, “can we go back and watch the rest of the game now?”

A proud moment indeed!

Amanda always had fun at the games, and when they were over she liked to leave by climbing over the seats, rather than walking up the stairs. (An early indication, I guess, that climbing would become her favorite sport!) Barbara and I still laugh about the time when an elderly male usher admonished her with, “son, please don’t climb on the seats.”

I loved going to games with Amanda, and she was always excited when the Blue Jays won … but I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad sometimes thinking back to the Glory Days. Over the years that Amanda and I were going to games together, even the most exciting victory tended only to make the difference between finishing, saying, 14 games behind in the standings instead of 15. She never got to see them as a contender when she was growing up, but it was so much fun for me to see how much she got into it all over again – even though she was (and still is) all the way out in Vancouver – when the Jays were finally back in playoff contention in 2015 and 2016.

Jays

Over the years, Amanda has had a couple of serious boyfriends. Barbara and I have always liked them. The first time we met Brent, it was clear to us that he was crazy about her. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen how much she’s grown as a person with him at her side. He’s a wonderful man, and they’re so clearly great together.

I promised Barbara that this story would be about Amanda, but I don’t think that I can really do it justice without saying that when we told them about Barbara’s cancer diagnosis in March, the way Amanda and Brent initially dealt with it was to grab their gloves and a ball and go outside to play catch and talk about it.

How could he not be the one for her!

19 thoughts on “Sports Dad and Little Girl

  1. Touching piece, Eric. We missed you in Parry Sound, but knew you were with us in spirit. The very best to the Zweig clan at both this happy and difficult of times.

  2. Eric, this was such a moving story! I loved it. Thank you so much for writing it.
    Love to you all! Linda

  3. Well done Eric. You’ve accomplished what few men can do without sounding to “Chicken Soup” about it. A lovely piece and a great way to highlight benchmarks in your life. There’s a popular song that goes “You Say it Best When You Say Nothing At All”. I’ve never liked that. You say it best when you actually say it. You said it. Just sayin’. Best F

  4. Love it! As a father of girls and a former ‘jock’ I loved your story and wish you and family congrats on engagement!

  5. Eric,

    I hope you don’t mind me adding these comments.

    When my kids were small, I always heard “long days, short years”. Man was that ever true. I wish I could live them over.

    Now the good part.

    I’ve been blessed with 3 grandkids, 2 boys and a girl. Another old adage:

    “If I had known they would be so much fun, I would have had them first”.

    I think of your family every day.

    Kevin

  6. Well Eric, very good words. I haven’t known you very long but very well said. I wish you and your family WELL and hope all comes out great for you and yours.

    Doug

  7. A delightful and poignant memoir Eric, of exactly the kind of father that I have always imagined you being. You easily remind me of the type of person emulated by the teacher in the article which I posted on FB yesterday.
    Your daughter is equally inspiring.

    I envy you.

  8. Writing gives one time for reflection, something many of us fail to take time for. Thank you for sharing this insight into your family.

  9. I’m sitting here almost overwhelmed with your essay which I just finished reading for the third time. How lucky “the kids” are to have such a loving and insightful piece! I thought the pictures were beautiful, touching, and a keepsake that they and their youngsters can refer to many times in the years ahead.

    Kathy and I send our love, congratulations, and best wishes to you, Eric, and your entire “expanded” family!

  10. Your father-daughter bond reminds me, though not through sport, of my bond with Bonnie. Beautifully written. Heartfelt. Shlepp nachas from Amanda. Time goes by so fast. I hear Bon saying “don’t be maudlin” so I won’t. Mazal Tov!

  11. Eric, what a beautiful story and photos so lovely. I am so happy for you and Barb that you have Amanda’s wedding to look forward to this summer. Hugs to you and Barb. Myrna

  12. A lovely and heartwarming piece, Eric. The upcoming wedding will be a powerful celebration of family love and solidarity.

  13. Absolutely wonderful heartfelt blog post Eric! And you were & are just as much Amanda’s father as her Bio-Dad is. You are a really wonderful man; a good father & Husband & friend. In other words a real mensch & I am honored to know you.
    I pray nightly for Barbara to beat this Cancer & for both of you to have many years together…..
    Sincerely, Sherri-Ellen T-D.
    P.S.: Purrince Siddhartha Henry sends **purrsss** an purrayerss an POTP to Barbara.
    P.S.S.: POTP= Power Of The Paw 😉

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