Auto Bonding - Fathers use automotives to build relationships with their children
Men often get a lot of flack for being absent fathers. However, the tide is shifting in a positive direction, as more fathers are seen bonding with their children. One of the preferred ways many fathers go about doing this is with the use of automotives.
"When I was a child, my father used to put me on his lap and let me steer his car to the newspaper vendor, who was at the bottom of the street. This stuck with me throughout the years and now that I am a father, I get to share these types of moments with my son," said Christopher Barnes, COO, RJRGLEANER Communications Group.
Barnes, who organised the day's activities which involved several fathers and their children lyming at DaCosta Farms and Adventures, was very adamant that it is important for fathers to bond with their kids while they are still young. "We have to seize these moments with them, because after a while when they become older, they are not going to want to hang out with us. They are going to think we are no longer cool enough," said Barnes in a comical manner.
DaCosta Farms and Adventures has become a favoured venue for many fathers who want to teach their children how to ride bikes, ATVs or drive Dune Buggies on the weekend.
"I never knew what I wanted to do with this part of the property at first, but when I started seeing the kids ride up and about, I decided to turn it into a dirt-bike track. At the end of the day, it's all about the kids and them having fun," said Dave DaCosta, owner of DaCosta Farm and Adventure.
He is a father of three who spends a lot of time teaching his son, Amir, how to repair his bike, while his daughter, Amanda, works with her mother Kareen to take care of the administration of the business. His youngest, Amia, recently celebrated her seventh birthday.
Everyone coming together
Barnes, the second father to arrive for the day's activities, informed DaCosta that some of the other guys were running late. In the back of his van was his son Adrian, curled up as he was recovering from the flu. "Even though he isn't feeling too well, he loves to ride and wouldn't miss this for the world. Plus, he heard me planning it with the other guys, so I also think he doesn't want to let me down," said Barnes.
However, once he was at the track, Adrian, with youthful exuberance, found the will power and started putting on his gears. It was also an opportunity for him to take his bike around the bermed corners and over the dirt surface before the other kids arrived.
Minutes later, Christopher Kow and his son Cruz arrived, both were eager to start the day's activities. "Cruz loves to ride. Every time he goes on the track he is trying to improve on the mistakes he made in the past. So a day like this when he gets to ride with his friends, is a big highlight for him," stated Kow.
By this time it was close to midday and the sun was very hot. Nonetheless, the two boys were riding with total abandonment, as they tried to master the terrain. While they were testing their bikes, a gleeful DaCosta joined the group in a Dune Buggy with his son Amir beside him.
DaCosta then said to the fathers, "What you guys drinking? I am going to have my guys send down some beers."
Soon after, Chris Lee pulled up with son Cameron and a friend's daughter, Maiya Barbar. "My fatherly instinct is to bring the two of them everywhere. They have been friends since kindergarten and even though there is a three-year difference between them, they have this brother-sister bond," disclosed Lee.
Lee, who recently buried his older brother, welcomed the outing as it gave him an opportunity to relax.
"My older brother who was like a father to me, died in May and it has been hard on my family, especially me. So this day was kind of therapeutic for me and my son, and being around friends makes it even better," shared Lee.
While he helped the children put on their gears, the final father, Bryan 'Ricky' Vaz, arrived in a Nissan Caravan, unlike all the other fathers who drove pickups. After exiting, he opened the side door and revealed two dirt bikes he neatly carried in the back.
Some time for Man Talk
At this point, all the fathers had gathered under the kiosk which overlooks the track. They started sharing their stories about fatherhood and how to help their children become successful.
"It's important that we don't grow them up to be fearful; we have to keep encouraging them. Sometimes we have to show them how to conquer a challenge, so they can use our examples to take on their own battles," said Barnes.
Lee added his own take on helping kids to be successful by saying that he ensured they get adequate sleep so they have enough energy to do good in school. "A lot of time it is a team effort between the father and mother. You have to spend some time to develop a sleep schedule. If it's not working at first, you will have to wake them up early and do a lot of activities during the day so they are tired by the night."
After they heard this, all the men started nodding in agreement. Kow then added: "Yes that is important because they need to be well rested to make the best of their education. It's a daily routine with us and Cruz. Sometimes I have to talk with his teachers as well as make sure that his homework is always checked. I encourage him to own a business one day and to do so he needs a good education."
Even though education is important, the fathers also stressed the importance of living a balanced life. Vaz, a father of four, interjected at this point to give his opinion on the matter. "They need balance to have a very good quality of life. My wife Kara and I always ensure that they are involved in many extra-curricular activities throughout the week. At one point my daughter was involved in a play that ran several days of the week from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and she was still able to maintain A's at school."
Enjoying the moment
After they reasoned for a few minutes more, the men then turned their full attention to the children, and took out their cellphones and started capturing them riding. Each father was in a jovial mood as he made jokes at his child's riding exhibition while cheering him on.
Most noteworthy was the fact that there was no competition among the men, as each father was willing and able to help the other's child. "Based on the work-related demands of life to provide for our families, we can't always be around to do the various activities with our children. So, sometimes I am swamped with work and my bredren Chris Kow will say he is picking up my son to hang out with his son. It's like we are father pooling," disclosed Barnes.
As it approached 2 p.m., DaCosta insisted that everyone should report to the eating area to have lunch and advised that all persons should try the fried fish.
Some persons headed towards the food, but the kids had no interest in eating, so both Barnes and Kow stayed behind to supervise them.
Sitting in the dining area, DaCosta had his staff fill the table with many delectable items from his menu. Most of the men went for the steamed fish while the kids went for the chicken nuggets and buzz burgers. "When the kids come here, they always order the chicken nuggets because it's crispy with the right amount of spice. As for the adults, they love the fry fish," disclosed DaCosta.
Eventually, all the children went to the table but most of them were still not interested in eating as they all wanted to head back to the track. Subsequently, after a 40-minute recess, everyone headed back for the last round of activities. This time, some of the fathers wanted in on the action and the first to do so was Barnes who jumped onto one of the ATVs and started revving it over the obstacles.
"I originally bought the Honda that my son is riding for myself, but realised he could manage it so I gave it to him. The next bike I am going to buy is a Honda 250cc for myself and I'll keep it until he graduates to it. At that point I will pass it down," shared Barnes.
With everyone having been immersed in the activities, there was contentment for all, by the end of the day. "This was a fantastic day. A lot of the fathers are proud to spend this time with their kids and there is a community of us that has been growing. Even though many fathers have been getting a bad rap, there are many of us who are pulling our weight the best way we know how," Barnes said.
Location of event: DaCosta Farm and Attraction
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