What My Son Needs To Know About Father's Day
You may remember I wrote a similar letter on Mother’s Day, in which I begged you to behave so that your mom could relax and enjoy her special Sunday.
This letter is a little different. For one thing, this letter is about me, rather than about Mommy, so I can speak a bit more freely. For another, until football starts, Sundays are pretty much meaningless to me. Even this coming one.
That’s right: this Sunday is Father’s Day. But I’m here to tell you not to worry about that. I don’t need anything from you. I don’t need a tie or a handmade card or golf lessons or a membership to a beer-of-the-month club. I don’t even need you to be on your best behavior (besides, you should ALWAYS be on your best behavior). Just go ahead and take it easy.
Weird, right? As a kid, I was appalled that my father, your pop-pop, never asked for anything for Father’s Day, or for Christmas, or even for his birthday – except for the old “for you and your brothers to get along” pipe dream. For kids, gifts are everything, so when I was your age, not wanting any simply did not compute. But now that I’m a dad, I finally understand my dad’s mindset.
First of all, kids give terrible gifts. Second, when you become a parent, you quickly realize that the best gifts aren’t in a box or an envelope. The best gift is the hug I get when I put you to bed, or the laughter I get when I tickle you, or the 30 minutes of extra sleep you give me every fifth weekend. None of those is premeditated or holiday-specific; they’re just you being you. And that’s all I need, every day.
Just because this Sunday is called Father’s Day doesn’t make it any different. I don’t care about Father’s Day.
This Sunday isn’t any more special to me than any other Sunday, or Saturday, or weekday. I don’t need a commemorative brunch to celebrate my so-called sacrifices or dedication or hard work, especially not from you. Why should my child reward me for NOT being a terrible father?
I already know I’m not a terrible father. I’m not bragging, and I don’t think I’m the best father of all time or anything, but I know I’m not terrible simply because I love being your dad. I am secure in that, and I don’t need your recognition for doing, to quote Kid Rock, “Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy” Chris Rock, “what [I’m] SUPPOSED to do.”
I like recognition as much as the next guy, but being a dad isn’t about recognition. So you can chill.
I know what you’re thinking: does this mean you can get out of kissing Mommy’s ass on Mother’s Day too? That’s up to your mom. (Here’s a hint: no.) And it doesn’t mean we’re going to abolish Father’s Day either. Because despite the fact that I don’t need validation to continue doing a job I love – or to continue doing it even on those days when I don’t love it (like, say, during potty training) because I love you – these holidays aren’t really for the people being celebrated. They are for the celebrators. It’s fun to celebrate loved ones. Why do you think you get so much stuff at Christmas? The joy is seeing you happy. And that’s the only gift I need this weekend.
Well, that’s the only gift I need from you this weekend. Because Father’s Day isn’t your problem.
Father’s Day is Mommy’s problem.
P.S. I actually will take one of those beer-of-the-month club things. And tickets for Mad Max: Fury Road. Just tell your mom.
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