Crawdad fishing, zoo time, playing at the park: Men talk about being 'Dad'

The Fresno BeeJune 14, 2014 

Holding fishing poles with bacon dangling from the ends, two Fresno toddlers were relishing time with their dad on Saturday as they learned how to catch crawdads in a pond at Woodward Park.

It was a special Father's Day weekend for Jebediah James, 27, who loved watching his son and daughter's eyes light up as they helped pull in 14 of the freshwater crustaceans that resemble small lobsters.

The morning adventure in northeast Fresno was hardly about catching lunch. James brought son Cale, almost 3, and daughter Elsie, almost 2, to the park so they could spend time together in nature, appreciating "the things God made for us to enjoy."

He talked to them about crawdads and pointed out the iridescent wings of a dragonfly.

"All those moments are teaching moments. Even how to pick up a crawdad without getting pinched. Helping him (Cale) overcome fear. Helping him make sure he's safe. All of those moments you wouldn't have if you didn't have time together."

Becoming a dad has taught James a lot, too. "When you become a parent you realize how selfish you are."

You no longer always get to do what you want, James said. Bedtimes get disrupted and finicky eaters keep you from enjoying your favorite foods.

But being a dad is worth it, he said. Take one of Cale's favorite pastimes, dancing in the living room, "flailing" around, totally free.

"Seeing those things are a lot of fun."

He said he wants to prepare his children to become kind, loving and gentle adults.

"All of a sudden my life is being duplicated and three people are being nice instead of just me," James said. "That's one of the reasons why it's worth it -- so they can have a positive impact on the world that you by yourself can't have. It's like investing in the future."

On the other side of the city on Saturday, Andrew Twiford was pushing two of his children in a stroller to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. His two older children, Annika and Alicia, 7 and 5, walked happily alongside him and their grandpa.

This is "family time," Twiford said. The 34-year-old from Hanford wants his children to remember enjoying the world together.

His four children already have many favorite memories. They like a lot of things about their dad: His breakfasts and lunches, helping him water the garden, driving to gymnastics practice, going on trips together and watching "Star Wars."

Alicia also appreciates her dad's sensitive side: "He picks flowers sometimes for Mommy."

Before walking into the zoo, Twiford pulled out his phone and proudly displayed a photo he took of a "Tree Song" that Annika wrote on Friday. He recorded her singing her special tune about how trees have leaves and flowers as she clapped along.

What's great about being a dad? "It's stuff like that," Twiford said with a smile.

At nearby Rotary Storyland and Playland, Dante Washington waved to his two daughters, ages 3 and 5, as they rode a small roller coaster.

"The only thing you can't get enough of is spending time together," Washington said. "You can't replace it."

The 32-year-old Fresno resident said being a dad means being "permanent" and "positive."

As the song "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from the movie "Cinderella" played over the loud speakers, Washington said he looks forward to watching his daughters grow into young women.

"To see them grow, day by day. You always anticipate what next year holds for them, and the year after that."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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