I talked to my dad on the phone today. It was a 37-minute conversation, which is longer than usual. Happy Father’s Day!
I didn’t do anything else for him in the way of buying him anything or being sentimental, so as far as he knows, this is all I’m planning for Father’s Day. Hint: the “as far as he knows” was foreshadowing. Stay tuned.
In that 37-minute conversation, I spoke to my father about creative pursuits, and we were talking about how you have to make time for them, and how that’s not easy to do since flossing and an 80-hour work week take a lot out of you.
So I jokingly said that I was going to give him an extra hour every day for one calendar year, but that he had to spend that hour doing something creative like molding little figurines out of clay or making friendship bracelets with Mom.
Now, this is a gift I have no capacity to deliver on, especially considering the time machine I’m currently building is little more than a protein powder tub with a hat on it, but we all know that it’s the thought that counts.
But there must have been something of a boomerang in that thought because it came whizzing back and whapped me in the face just as I started to type out this very blog post.
If I could give my dad anything, what would I give him?
I’m at that time in my life when I can stop being a leech and contribute in a positive way to my family. In hindsight, it’s possible I’ve always had that ability, but starting late is better than never.
As someone on the receiving end of fatherhood, I’ll probably never understand what goes into it. I have, however, babysat a small child. This child did not trust me at first, did not even let me hold her hand and cried when she saw me. Three months later, I miraculously sung her to sleep and have yet to recreate the same sense of accomplishment in my professional life.
So maybe fatherhood is something like that, love and dependency and vulnerability combined. And it’s also sending your adult children pictures of Mom while on vacation in Colorado and encouraging them to write blog posts in pirate speak. It’s demanding to see boyfriends’ resumes and making sure family vacations aren’t too expensive and being the one to pack the car for road trips. It’s making/laughing at fart jokes and quoting Monty Python and Lord of the Rings and tricking Mom into seeing Hellboy and taking your daughters out to dinner. Maybe that’s some of what it is.
I don’t know what the perfect gift is for my dad. I do want to give him an extra hour a day for the next year, because he’s earned it. I want to give him yellow aspen trees all year round. I want to give him the same sense of joy he had when he was chasing my siblings and I on the playground and I want to go to his piano recitals even though they’re boring and watch him graduate and tell him that he can do anything, because he can.
And maybe, just maybe, the best way to say all of this is to buy him some athletic shirts with my sister, so when he’s at the gym at 5 am, he can remember his daughter(s) first thing in the morning and the fun we’ve had together and how much we love him. Happy Father’s Day.