The entire experience was thrilling for me as I was literally a rock star as I walked around the campus and helped deliver things to the classroom. Those little smiles and those enthusiastic "Hi Watchdog Dad!" comments from the kids was truly special. I was even told by an entire table of kindergartners that I was the nicest and most fun Watch Dog Dad they had had all year. Talk about making this old guy feel like a million bucks!
The most rewarding part of the day was at my son's recess. I was sucked into the obligatory game of tag of course with the kids from Josh's class as well many of the other third graders. I had a blast and was happy to know that I hadn't lost my tagging skills thank you very much!
Though that was super fun it was what happened next that really put the entire day of volunteering into perspective for me.
Josh has the biggest heart in the world. I love that about him. As the game of tag wound down I noticed him on the other side of the monkey bars trying to assist one of the special need kids up the steps so she could take the slide down. I joined him and this little girl immediately gravitated to me. She wanted to try the monkey bars bridge where she would have to go hand over hand to get to the other side. I helped her across once, holding her little legs so she wouldn't fall. The look of determination and accomplishment when she made it across took my breath away. Of course she immediately wanted to go back across to which Josh encouraged me to help her again. She made it across again and leaned down with the biggest smile and gave me the biggest hug. I admit tears welled up in my eyes at that point.
After that there was a line of special needs kids that somehow magically appeared out of no where. Each wanting their turn with the Watch Dog Dad to help them across the monkey bars. With the help of Josh and his classmates who introduced me to each and every one of the kids before I helped them across, each and every one of them got multiple trips across. Josh even said, "These kids really like you dad." That made me really, really proud.
As we were walking back to the building at the end of recess one of the special needs aides stopped me and asked if I had ever worked with special needs kids before. I told her I hadn't and she said she was surprised as I had a real knack for it. She said that most of the dads don't know how to respond when approached by a kid who is a bit different so they simply ignore them. She said I had no idea what kind of impact I had made on those kids and thanked me for not ignoring them. Talk about humbling.
The rest of the day was spent doing manual labor. I was glad I had worked out early that morning as they had me moving heavy boxes of books from one end of the campus to the other. Though I didn't mind. I loved walking around campus and seeing the kids from the different age groups as they changed classes or went to the library. "There's the funny Watch Dog Dad!" or "Hey Watch Dog Dad give me five!" was exclaimed more than once I don't mind telling you.
The whole day was amazing and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend a day volunteering at Brushy Creek Elementary. I know it made my son proud to have his dad hanging around and meeting his friends and being the Watch Dog Dad for the day. It was the toughest but most rewarding work I've done in a long, long time.
To learn about the Watch Dog Dad program, please check out www.fathers.com and volunteer at your local elementary school. Even if you don't have a son or daughter, the schools would love to have you so sign up. You'll not only create some Ripples for the kids but for yourself as well!