written by Patrick and J.L. Hempfing
Parents deal with stress in a variety of ways. Tennis is my stress outlet, along with eating ice cream and donuts. Obviously, playing tennis is a much healthier choice than comfort foods.
Recently, my daughter Jessie came home excited to share a new stress-fighting activity she had heard about – goat yoga. My comfort zone has boundaries, and Jessie keeps trying to expand them. Daily. Before I go further, let’s turn it over to Jessie for her thoughts.
Jessie, Age 12
When my friend at school told me about goat yoga, it sounded like a ton of fun. Basically, you go into a field, and do yoga while a bunch of goats walk around and crawl on you. I came home from school and told my dad about it. To me, doing yoga with goats crawling on you sounded great, but not to Daddy. He’s not an animal person.
I told Mom about it later, and she loves the idea. She and I are a lot alike in our love for animals. When we are going for a family walk, we will walk around and pet all the dogs we pass where Dad would rather avoid them. He’s not mean to dogs, and he loves our dog, Sadie, but dogs just aren’t his thing.
I think Dad should be a little more open minded when it comes to goat yoga and dogs. It is good that we have each other. I get him out of his comfort zone, and he gets me out of mine. It is good to try things, because you never know what you may enjoy. Let’s hear my father’s view.
This father’s view is quite simple. I have no intention of ever having my view obstructed by goat legs, tails, or any other goat anatomical parts. Having goats bleating and crawling on and around me while I do yoga doesn’t interest me in the least.
However, Jessie raised a good point about the importance of keeping an open mind. Not knowing a single thing about goat yoga, I Googled it. I was surprised to read about the mental and physical benefits of goat yoga. Those who do it say it’s a great way of disconnecting from stress. Did I close my mind too soon?
Our lives are shaped by our personal experiences. My only experience with a goat came many years ago, when my wife, Mattie and I were dating. Her parents were away and it was our responsibility to milk the family goat. We should have asked for directions because how to milk a goat is not as obvious as it seems. There’s a technique to getting the milk to squirt out instead of just squishing around, which the goat finds highly irritating. It’s safe to say that Mattie’s goat was not a therapy goat, which is probably why I no longer wish to be up close and personal with goats.
In response to Jessie’s comment “dogs just aren’t his thing,” I feel I must share my first teenage job – a newspaper carrier. Dogs have a special animosity for newspaper carriers. Luckily, I made it through several years of home newspaper delivery while avoiding the angry guardians of their owners’ property, except for one. I have a tiny scar on my left leg to show for my dedicated service.
With my hard-to-milk goat and dog-chasing-after-me experiences, it’s safe to say I’m not as comfortable around goats and dogs as my wife and daughter. Also, when I take a walk, I like to get my circulation pumping instead of stopping every three seconds to pet a dog, no matter how cute it is (Mattie and Jessie think all dogs are cute).
Which leads me to Jessie’s final point, “It is good that we have each other.” On this point I couldn’t agree more. Jessie and I have helped each other expand our comfort zones. Our family is also blessed in that Mattie and I have different interests that benefit Jessie. I can already see the smiles on Jessie’s and Mattie’s faces when they go work out with the goats. I’ll have a smile on my face, too, as a nearby spectator enjoying my cone of ice cream.
But whether I’m cheering on my goat-yoga exercisers or relaxing with a three-scoop cone of ice cream, one thing is certain ’tween daughter and dad, I love my girl and my girl loves me.
Until next month, remember to cherish the moments. Happy New Year! Good luck in achieving your New Year’s resolutions. Doing goat yoga won’t be on my list, but I will try to monitor the ice cream intake. All parents need ways to handle stress.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer. Follow Patrick at http://patrickhempfing.com. J. L. Hempfing, now 15, began writing with her dad in kindergarten. Her current hobbies include playing clarinet, saxophone, and piano. She also enjoys marching in her high school band. If you enjoyed this column, you’ll like Patrick’s first book, MoMENts: A Dad Holds On. The book compiles favorite stories and new material and is available for sale on Amazon.