That's when I knew I was Dad.
The defining moment of putting Bea's Radio Flyer tricycle together in the cold garage on Christmas Eve, listening to a sweet cheerful stream of holiday music.
I became the iconic Americana father of my youth, or The Saturday Evening Post Norman Rockwell covers of an even earlier time.
Along with minimal cursing reading the poorly written but thankfully heavily illustrated trike directions, there was one specific moment when I looked at all the pieces in front of me with the partially constructed trike and I thought --
I'll be damned. I am Dad.
Sure there were many other defining Dad moments for me including the births of both my darling girls, but the putting together of the trike was again iconic Americana fatherhood.
And placing the final presents and the trike under our tree on Christmas Eve night was iconic Americana parenting for both me and the Mama, as if it were the early 70's again and we were in bed awaiting Christmas morn, living in antiqued photo dreams...
However, we weren't sure if Bea would like the trike; she's still in this strange alien toddler stage.
We found out soon enough -- watching her eyes scan the presents under the tree on Christmas morning and then stare at the trike was precious. Bryce was still sleeping, which was a good thing. Otherwise there could have been fussy baby distraction that would've sent Bea over the emotional impulse edge.
Bryce did join us shortly thereafter without a crying hitch and we all played for the rest of the glorious morning. When Bea wanted me to push her around on the trike (rubber ducky in hand), my heart swelled to the size of the Pacific not more than a mile from where we live.
For any kind of family in this world today, there are moments that define you as loving caretaker and parent.
I recommend you wrap them up in colorful paper, ribbons and bows, and display them under the lighted tree in your heart for all to see.
Yep, I'm one proud daddy.
Merry Day After.