“One of the best things that has happened is the fact that I became a dad at 29, very young [and] at the height of my wrestling career,” the Moana voice actor tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “I was always on the road, splitting my time and then becoming a dad later in life too as well.”
“It’s really been this awesome, interesting, fascinating balance between an amazing, beautiful 15-year-old who teaches me, to [her] amazing, beautiful [sister], [an 11-month-old] baby,” says Johnson, 44. “You just hope that you take the lessons that you learned in life and you can apply them properly. I think I’m a good dad.”
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One of the former WWE champ’s favorite times of day is in the morning, when he gets a little time to himself. But his other favorite time might surprise his fans — and melt a few hearts.
“My other favorite time is bath time with Jasmine,” says Johnson, whose longtime partner (and Jasmine’s mama) is Lauren Hashian. “It’s my job and I love filling up the baby tub and I get her toys, making everything right.”
He adds, “And then I say my thing, ‘All right, Daddy’s ready!’ And in she comes and she’s kicking and she’s so happy. I own being the daddy. I love it.”
Its Labor Day. One of my favorite holidays as we celebrate the blue collar American worker and their contributions to our country thru labor and sweat. In the spirit of Labor Day, I had an amazing philosophical conversation w/ my baby girl about the value of hard work and how respect is given when it's earned. I told her, "Baby girl when you grow up, you get out there and dent the universe thru hard work and sweat. And always make sure you do it in a positive way with class, dignity and respect". She responded by poo'ing on me in this moment as she plays her favorite game, "Drum time on daddy's big head". It was a good talk.💯 #HappyLaborDay #TheJohnsons #GoodTalksWithDaddy
The superstar tells PEOPLE he and Hashian, 32, have figured out a good balance when it comes to parenting duties.
“We’ve got a great chemistry and a great flow. And I think being busy, as busy as I am, there’s that old adage: You want something done, give it to a busy person,” he explains. “I think being busy for me really helps in parental duties — being in a rhythm of go all day and being able to come home and do the bath time, the diaper duty, the feeding time.”
His partner deserves a lot of credit, Johnson says, sharing how much Hashian has inspired him as she has navigated the world of first-time motherhood.
“Watching Lauren be a mom has been one of the most enlightening things I’ve ever seen,” he says. “As a man, you see your lady, your partner, your woman, your one, you see them in a certain light, and then when they become Mom, it’s a whole other perspective that if you open your eyes wide enough, it’s like a kaleidoscope.”
Johnson continues, “You click it a couple of times and it just changes everything … she’s the champ.”
When it comes to his older daughter, Johnson admits he gets a little joy out of embarrassing her a bit.
“I think that Simone is going to be like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ And then she’s going to be embarrassed,” he says of Simone’s opinion about his Sexiest Man Alive cover.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do,” he says of teasing his teenage daughter. “I have this radius around me and if she gets close — I have long arms, I grab her and I pull her in and I’m like, ‘You’re not going anywhere!’ And I just start kissing her cheek.”
He continues, “This is in front of anybody and everybody, and she just hates it. But she loves it. She hates it, but she loves it. Yeah, I embarrass the hell out of her.”
At the end of the day, though, the actor embraces being surrounded by ladies — and admits he knows they’re really the ones running the show.
“I live in a house full of women. I was raised by women and then I have two daughters, it’s just a house full of estrogen,” Johnson explains. “I’m the only testosterone in the house, so I may make the final decision, but the boss-ness is spread out amongst the girls in my house.”
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Though Johnson is keen on going with the flow when it comes to parenting Jasmine, there are certain times when he has to roll up his sleeves and get the job done.
“Thirty five thousand feet up in the air flying and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. She’s not like, ‘Hey, honey, hold it until we land.’ It’s like, ‘All right, I got this, changing the diaper.’ ”
“And here’s the thing: I’m trying to change her, she’s wiggling and squirming, and I’m trying to hold her. I’m sweating now, it’s ridiculous. But I succeeded. I did.”
And what advice would Johnson give to a man regarding the very important job of diaper duty? In summary: charge on.
“You have to embrace it. I embrace diaper duty,” he says. “Yeah, not in a weird way. Like it’s, ‘Okay, she doesn’t need changing.’ No, no, no, she does.”
He jokes, “I’ve got to embrace it. So much so that it’s like, ‘Hey, whatever’s happening in that diaper, I’m going to take care of it.’ One, two, No. 3, whatever that is. I embrace it.”