Did you know that Father’s Day is a direct result of a daughter loving her dad enough to visit local churches, shopkeepers, government officials, etc. in order to establish a day in his honor? Sonora Smart Dodd was her name, and this all happened in Spokane, Washington—my home state (you can read the full story at history.com).
Of course, I have all boys—no daughters—and the grandest display of respect and admiration I get from them is when they pull a half-eaten cucumber from their mouths, toss it onto my dinner plate and offer it as a present because, “It’s yucky, Daddy” and “do YOU want it?”
Father’s Day is not one of the major holidays on my sons’ radars, and that really isn’t all their faults either. My wife and I unintentionally arranged it so that our birthdays line up in a neat row: one in March, one in April, two in May and one in June. That leaves only a couple weeks before Father’s Day and then a mere six months before Christmas. The malls have barely taken down all the Easter and Mother’s Day paraphernalia before tossing a few Dad’s Day cards on the shelf, which are quickly knocked to the floor by thirty-foot blow up reindeer and singing Santa Clauses.
Thankfully, my wife never forgets. Last year, she lovingly asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day, to which I responded that I wanted nothing more than for her to take the boys out for the day so I could watch poorly made action movies by myself wearing just my underwear, while eating stale pizza and drinking beer…and I wanted to do all this without any judgments applied.
She laughed, and it occurred to me that this is the real secret to why our marriage works so well: she thinks I’m funny and, for the sake of a peaceful household, I don’t tell her that I was in no way joking.
And so, on the actual day of honoring fathers, I awoke with a sigh, got dressed and put on my best OMG…This-musical/blinking-Goofy-tie-is-JUST-what-I-wanted face and head downstairs into the madness. I only just make it outside my room when I’m met by a stampede of little children.
“No, no!” they cried out. “We made you breakfast in bed! Go back to bed, Daddy!”
The thing about Father’s Day—for some odd reason—is that it’s all about the breakfast in bed. My sons’ little gremlin hands—covered in some gooey slime that didn’t resemble anything I’d ever recognized in a breakfast ensemble—were now shoving me back as best they could, painting my jeans to the colors of purple, brown and yellow. My wife was grinning wide—payback, I suppose, for the half-hearted macaroni art I had them gift her on Mother’s Day.
I slid back onto the bed atop the covers. Of course, they insisted I get back under the covers and so, like a slug in a drain pipe, I slithered in as the sticky entrails left on my jeans by my boys’ grubby fingers smeared the underside of the sheets. I didn’t fret, however. The sheets would need to be washed anyway—perhaps even fumigated—as the boys would insist on joining me.
One by one—which, in the world of young children, translates as all at once and in violent fashion—my boys hopped into the bed, smacking each other for claiming the hand-grip the other had intended to reach for, yelling and squabbling over who got to sit on the middlemost side of the bed, and more than twice dropping the plate of burnt toast, cereal, juice and a side order of salt-pile amidst the calamity.
“Do you like it, Daddy?”
“Even more than last year,” I said, which wasn’t a lie, because this version didn’t have anything too unnatural floating at the surface of the orange juice.
It’s the simple things that make this day special.
In spite of all this, I appreciate the effort and especially the love behind it. I really do. I also appreciate the unrelenting smirk on my wife’s face as she video records all this from the foot of the bed. She likes to video document everything, as if some future version of humanity will one day depend on our life experiences to learn how to survive in a more hostile world.
Come to think of it…that might not be too far off track.
Here’s to all the Dad’s out there, to whom I pose the question, Why in God’s name aren’t there any football games being played on Father’s Day?
And to my own Dad: I get it now…I’m sorry, you poor, poor man.