Note: this was supposed to come out on Father’s Day. But then I spent days and days editing it and then … forgot to post it. So, like many things I do, this one will be late.
Father’s Day is here. And with it, my annual confusion over where to put the apostrophe. Is it Father’s Day? Fathers’ss’s Day? How many fathers possess this day? And why do they all want to make it so hard on me?
To tell you the truth, I don’t understand why we have Father’s Day. Mother’s Day I get. Mothers deserve a day just for going through childbirth. You know what? They deserve every day…
Father’s Day seems like an afterthought. Like we had our first Mother’s Day and dads everywhere were like, “Where’s our day? We did half the work, if you know what I mean. Hehehe.”
We know what you mean. You can have a day. But don’t go asking for a month. We save those for groups who deserve it.
We don’t expect much from dads. The bar is so low that every month or so a video goes viral of a dad talking to his baby, or dancing with his daughter, or shoving his toddler in front of the soccer goal to prevent the other team from scoring—all real videos and all things dads should be doing all the time.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad dads out there. Absent dads. Distant dads. Deadbeat dads—a term I think a tired dad made up after chasing his kid around. “You run along, Junior, I am deadbeat.” Even God was kind of a weird dad. “Hey, Jesus? Remember when I said you were gonna change the world? There’s more to the story…” A lot of dads are like bad substitute teachers, they’re really only qualified to take roll call and put on a movie. “Okay kids. Who wants to watch Frozen? Which one are you?”
But there are also tons of great dads out there. They show up every day. They try. The care. Sure, they take roll call and put on Toy Story 12 when mom needs a night off, but they also explain how to throw a curveball, how to negotiate a job offer, how to program a computer, and how to appreciate shows like Taxi and Cheers—all things my dad taught me.
My dad wasn’t bad. He was fantastic. Still is!
My parents divorced when I was young. My mom worked nights, and after my dad got off work, he’d drive an hour to my mom’s house to make sure my brother and I didn’t burn it down. And then he’d drive an hour back to his house.
He came to our baseball and soccer games. He even coached for a few seasons. He was present in our lives despite the distance. And once when he had to travel internationally for several months, he wrote us a letter—to the millennials out there, letters are old timey emails—telling us he missed us and loved us and… I assume he wrote more, but we forgot all about it when he returned with soccer jerseys from all the countries he visited.
I guess where I’m going with this is that material gifts are better than love.
So. Now. The question is: What sort of last-minute gift should I get my dad this year? Have you ever asked your dad what he wants for Father’s Day? “I don’t want anything.” Which means, “I don’t want anything…that you can afford.”
Nothing says thank you like buying your dad something he probably doesn’t want or need, but this isn’t about him. It’s about me. And this year I thought I’d get my dad something personal. Something that says, “I made you something because I had no idea what to get you.” It’s a time honored way of ensuring he’ll love it. Because…guilt. [Which I learned from my mother.]
I have a history of making personal gifts for my dad. In third grade I made an exceptionally terrible clay bowl that looked more like an exceptionally terrible ashtray…something every nonsmoker puts at the top of his wish list. The year before that I made a clay imprint of my hand. And the year before that I drew a hand turkey that said Happy Father’s Day. At least that’s what I thought. I couldn’t spell.
But now I can. So maybe this year I’ll write him a letter to say thanks for being a great dad. Or a very personal but short essay that I post on the Internet. Or maybe just a gift card to Under Armour.
To all the Fathers out there. Happy Father’s Day. Thanks for being great dads. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for being great role models. Thanks for helping us with our homework. And for trying to teach us where to put apostrophes.
Happy Father’s Day, Pops. Hopefully we can celebrate the next one in person.
Anthony (Your Oldest Son)