Father-daughter journey: Listen, sense, inquire, respect her space

Spyro P. considers his ten-year-old daughter, Athina, to be one of the most inventive people he knows; naturally, this also makes her one of his favorite collaborators.

“We like to have multiple projects going at once,” he tells me.

“A notebook we fill with stories; one will start, the other continues, and we switch back and forth until it feels finished. In another, we’re sketching her dream house, room by room. She told me I’ll be the architect to build this one day so I try to treat her more like I would a client when we work on it. I want her to understand the process and to see I take it seriously; we break down each idea she has and what it will mean to the structure itself to add something here or there.”

Spyro loves introducing her to the techniques he uses in his work—-textures, colors, materials, and how to combine them. “She doesn’t like to be taught exactly, as in me telling her how you have to do it; what she enjoys most is the exposure, watching me on her own, asking questions, and then trying it herself. While she may start out doing what I did, it’s never long before she wants to divert from it and devise her own method.”

“And I find myself taking notes on what she says, how she goes about it; there’s always something for me to learn from her experiments.”

He describes Athina as someone naturally observant and outgoing who seems to effortlessly gather people around her. “She has a gentle warmth, which makes it easy for her to connect with others, to see what they need and want to offer it. For example, recently I had planned a trip for the two of us to Paris to take her to DisneyLand. I wanted to invite my partner, Emily, whom I know she likes, to join us, but I wasn’t sure how she would take the idea of us all traveling together. Somehow she could sense that I had this in my mind and one day on her own asked me to invite her so we could all spend more time together. Her insight and openness in this situation allowed us to share many beautiful moments together there and see what a good team we could be.”

“She has a natural intuition that allows her to act with ease and grace among dynamics that are often much more difficult for me to navigate.”

Experiences like this where they deepen their understanding of one another is what Spyro says he enjoys most about being a father. “I love seeing that all of what we co-create is a result of this particular relationship, our personal story that carries a language all our own. Every chance we have to grow closer, to show one another the interest is mutual, that we are wired together in a way that no two other people can be is incredible and helps me to better learn how to give her what she needs to be in harmony with herself.

“Listening, sensing, inquiring, being alert but also respecting her space, making sure she knows that I’m always close by if she needs me—all of this, for me, is part of keeping the balance and being the father I want to be to her.”