Again he'd ignore my fears and cross that stream with his characteristic aplomb, guiding our trusting girls along behind him.
Sometimes he simply has a different idea of what's appropriate for our children. Such as letting our tween head out into the cold with a thin jacket on because she's "not as chilly as you always are." Or feeding our girls Spam with their macaroni and cheese, like it makes a complete meal.
When he first started whistling for our kids, I questioned his motives. Did he really think they could be summoned like dogs? True to his engineering nature, he rattled off a reasoned response that I found hard to refute -- something about efficiency and pitch. He remained insistent that the whistle worked. I relented.
Like many of the other ways he parents differently from me, I've found that his whistle is an improvement over the alternative (say, yelling). Just as I learned that wrestling with dad can be safe and fun, the wild can be a great place to conquer your fears and explore new things, and young girls can be warm enough in just a light jacket on chilly days, I've learned that a whistle summons has its place in our family life (we won't talk about those macaroni and cheese and Spam dinners).
In all this, I'm glad my girls have their father to parent them too. They need his adventurous spirit and light-hearted nature to balance their straight-laced mom. And I need his differences too. I've grown through parenting with him. I've learned to let go more. I've learned to risk more. And I've found that my way doesn't have to be the only way. Because of his role as a father, I've become a better mother.
At last we've gotten together our kids, said our goodbyes, and headed out the door of our new friends' house. As our girls scamper down the walk ahead of us, I reach out and squeeze my husband's hand. I give him a quick smile. In return he lets out another whistle, low and under his breath. It's a quiet catcall. It's directed at me. And it lets me know, in his own way, he appreciates our differences too.
Lara Krupicka is a freelance writer who, along with her three adoring girls, wishes her whistling husband a very happy Father's Day.