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Father’s Day

June 18, 2010

Father’s Day is upon us.  My own father once described Mother’s Day as “amateur hour”, when people take their mothers or wives out for a nice dinner, and then get back to ignoring her like the other 364 days of the year. Father’s Day is kind of like that when it comes to gifts. If you don’t play golf, 50% of the advertising doesn’t really apply to you. The other 50% is for that automated tie rack from The Sharper Image. And you’re out of luck if you’re a smoker, because you can’t even get a new ashtray from your kids anymore.

Anyway, last week was my own father’s birthday, so I figured the week between was the perfect place for this. Not to sound conceited, but I think I’m a pretty good father. I love my children, I enjoy being around them, and I’m moderately to extremely patient. I would be none of these things without the example of my own father.

My dad spent most of my childhood working late afternoons and nights, so he was around during the day. I never realized it until years later how fortunate I was to have him around. He never spent late nights in his office. Instead, he’d spend the day teaching me the art of bidding on household good on The Price is Right (as an aside, I believe we should abolish all coinage and simply round everything to the nearest dollar). It was my dad who made me lunch during the summer. It was my dad who drove me everywhere I wanted to go.

It was my dad who cleaned the house with the devotion of the obsessive compulsive. No, really. He had a vacuum with his name and a screaming skull sticker on it. That vacuum eventually broke from overuse. The handle broke clean off. And like any good father, he duct-taped it back on.

When I decided to stay home with my son, it was my dad who made it feel normal to me. Not just because he felt I’d be good at it, although he did, but because growing up with a father taking care of a child felt completely normal to me.

When my son was born, I remember holding him and talking to my father. I laughed nervously and said that I was intimidated by the enormity of the task in front of me. I remember him chuckling and saying that this is the part that anyone can do. “This part is like taking care of a puppy. Feed him, change his diaper, make sure he’s safe, anyone can do that. It’s when you have to make them into decent human beings that it gets difficult.” Like most advice he’s ever given me, he was correct.

One of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain applies perfectly to my father. “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

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2 Comments
  1. Geoff A. permalink

    Great story Joe. I really enjoyed it. I am feeling similar to what you described. Me and Yvette are expecting our first in December.

  2. Your Father permalink

    Well, I certainly appreciate your kind words and thoughts. However, when you were young, so was I. As you know, it takes a great deal of energy to raise, take care of, deal with, etc. children on a daily basis. Not only do I look at you, I observe other young fathers and their children…….I can spot a patient father and I can spot a nervous, impatient, and/or apprehensive one. All “daytime” father such as you or me hover somewhere between sainthood and psychosis on a daily basis. And regarding that Mark Twain quote, there’s another one, and forgive me because I don’t know the author, but it goes, ‘The older you get, the smarter your parents become.”

    And, by the way, if you’re in a dilema concerning a personal gift for me for an upcoming event, ie. July 4th, Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day, or Arbor Day, my Orek electric broom is going down for the count. The handle developed a crack that duct tape alone couldn’t fix. I did, however, find a proper-sized steel hose clamp that shored up the crack and that seemed to do the trick……but I’m on borrowed time.

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