MONTREAL - What does Nate Thompson love most about fatherhood? Absolutely everything.
His four-year-old son, Teague, is his pride and joy.
"Being a father, to me it's an honor. To see how much he's grown, talk to him and see how funny he is, all his mannerisms, just being around him and being able to hang out with him and spend quality time with him is special," said Thompson, during a recent conversation from his offseason home in Southern California. "I cherish every day that I get to be his dad."
That's plain to see when you pay a visit to the 12-year NHL veteran's Instagram account - @nthompson44 - which is chalk full of memorable moments the pair have shared together over the years. It really is cuteness to the max.
Teague doesn't live with Thompson on a full-time basis, though. He resides in Minnesota with his mother, Cristin.
That just makes every visit all the more precious, and their most recent meeting was no exception. Thompson and his wife, Sydney, made their way to the North Star State to celebrate Teague's birthday in style.
"Teague's really into snakes right now. We went to the zoo. Twenty of his friends came, all about the same age, so you can say there was a lot of energy in there," recounted Thompson with a laugh. "They had a naturalist come out with a live snake and a frog. The kids were touching them and the naturalist talked about them. Teague loved it. They all loved it. There were lots of presents and junk food and cake and all the things that go with turning four and having a great birthday. He gave me a nice Father's Day gift before I left and made it for me and everything."
Thompson relished the experience of seeing Teague so thrilled on his special day.
And Teague's gregarious personality never ceases to amaze him.
"He's such a happy kid. He's definitely a kid that wears his heart on his sleeve. He just wants to have fun all the time. He wants to play. And he's a loving kid, too," revealed Thompson. "He wants everyone to feel good. When he was with his friends at his birthday party, he was talking to every single one of them when they came in. Every four-year-old has their ups and downs, of course, but he's just a great kid. You can see it already. I'm a proud dad."
And Sydney is one proud step-mom, according to the 34-year-old Anchorage, AK native. She has embraced her co-parenting role with open arms.
"Cristin is Teague's mom and will always be his mom, but Sydney is kind of his "bonus mommy." She loves him. He has a great time with her. Sometimes when I go see him solo and it's just me and him, he'll ask me 'Where's Sydney?' He loves her, too. We're one big happy family," explained Thompson. "It's 2019 and there are a lot of situations like this, co-parenting, and going through that type of process. The most important thing is for Teague to see how much we all love him. If anything, he has more love and support than most kids because he's got double. It was so much fun to be with him at his birthday party and meet all his friends and kind of see him in his own little world and having fun."
Back in late March, the pair shared another memorable visit when Teague travelled to Winnipeg while the Canadiens were in town to battle the Jets in a critical matchup to keep their playoff hopes alive.
As Thompson noted on Instagram following the 3-1 victory, Teague proved to be the club's "good luck charm" at Bell MTS Place.
"During the game, a lot of times I was thinking 'I know Teague's watching me right now, I know Teague's watching me right now.' He loves seeing me in warmups and tossing him pucks. I love having him there," said Thompson. "Seeing him after the game and seeing how excited he is, more so seeing how excited he is to go in the locker room and hang with the boys, I love every second of it."
While those get-togethers during the season are tough to schedule, Thompson and Cristin make it work.
"I try to plan to see him on the road in certain cities he's close to. He travels to me for a little bit, too. He's getting older and older now, so he's able to travel more. We just try to maximize the time where we can see him as much as possible," said Thompson. "But during the summer, I try and see him once a month. Next season, we're going to figure out a schedule and have him come up to the Bell Centre. I know he'll love it."
A future pitcher?
Teague is still rather young, but he's already showing signs of his athletic potential.
Scroll over to the fourth attachment in the Instagram post below to check out a video of his incredible throwing arm. Thompson might have a future pitcher on his hands!
"It's crazy, right? He was at least 20 feet away. I'd love for him to play hockey and he does love hockey, but baseball might be his sport," assessed Thompson. "He was three years old at the time. That's not normal for a three-year-old to throw a ball that hard. He's one heck of an athlete. I will say that."
Playing pitch and catch is one of many things Thompson enjoys doing with Teague, who is constantly on the move.
"We just like being outside. He's a pretty active kid, so whether it's playing baseball with him or whether it's wrestling with him, we like to have a good time together," mentioned Thompson. "It usually includes activities, so that nails it down."
In short, Thompson wouldn't have it any other way.
"When I'm with him, sometimes I sit there and think to myself 'Wow! I'm this kid's dad.' It still doesn't sink all the way in," he concluded. "It's an honor and I love every part of it."