Family Man

A Father’s Day to Remember, or Not

It's all about dads on Father's Day... or is it?
Illustration by David Miles

No day holds more meaning for a family man than Father’s Day. On that special day in May — or June, or whenever it is — dads around the country finally get a day that is all about them.

On a normal Sunday, a family man might selflessly sacrifice his time by rounding out that foursome for his buddies on the golf course. He might dutifully support his professional sports team, while at the same time heroically clearing the fridge of that unwanted beer and removing those about-to-go-bad potato chips taking up space in the pantry. Or, he might surrender his precious waking hours to generously sleep in and preserve the serenity of the morning for the family.

But not on Father’s Day.

For just one day a year, a family man is released of those rigorous Sunday obligations. On Father’s Day, a family man can put the needs of others on the backburner and think only of himself, while he engages in whatever his family has planned for him.

While Father’s Day is in the top 200 holidays recognized by wives and kids (nestled snugly between “Penguin Awareness Day” and “Talk Like a Pirate Day”), it still ranks significantly beneath Mother’s Day, so Father’s Day does not begin with a child-made breakfast-in-bed of burnt toast, cereal surprise and a random piece of fruit, mercifully saved by the Dad-made mimosa.

No, Father’s Day begins with a family mom’s iPhone alerting her that it is actually Father’s Day, and she jumps into action. Mother’s Day is a mere 11 months away and she is not going to let dad forget that these are special days not to be forgotten!

She rallies the kids and Dad is awakened to the youngest child pushing a crayon drawing into his face that reads, “hapy father day” and depicts two identical stick figures with an arrow pointing to one that reads “me,” and an arrow pointing to the other that reads “dad.” The arm of one is freakishly long and bent so that it can reach the arm of the other. Both figures have hair that is eerily reminiscent of Tom Petty’s.

The dog runs in and jumps up on the bed. Dad is up.

Dad heads to the kitchen to see that his oldest child is eating breakfast. Mom clears her throat and the oldest child robotically says, “Happy Father’s Day.” Mom says she made coffee and there should be some left.

The oldest child asks about the possibility of playing with a friend. Mom replies that it’s a day to spend with Dad, so of course not. Dad and the oldest give each other a knowing look. Today, they are going to enjoy Father’s Day, whether they like it or not.

The family sits in a holding pattern for a while, engaged in far less activity than if it had just been a “family day” or even a typical Sunday. No one can leave, but there have been no directives from Mom yet on what this special day entails. The kids and dad sporadically roam into the kitchen and root around the fridge. The weather outside is beautiful — the perfect weather for an epic round of golf — so Mom finally suggests a Father’s Day barbecue. Dad heads out and cleans the grill.

While prepping the grill, Dad briefly tries to remember what they did last Father’s Day. Unable to recall, he wonders if maybe they just skipped it. He is suddenly struck with the thought that he can’t remember a single Father’s Day. That can’t be right, can it? He’s been a dad for — wait, how old is their oldest child again? — at least 9 or 10 years. He vaguely recalls a drawing with Tom Petty-looking stick figures last year.

Maybe they did celebrate it.

The grill is ready.

It’s 1 p.m. and Dad cracks a beer as he grills. The one true perk of Father’s Day is that drinking beer midday gets a far less disapproving look from Mom than on a typical weekend. (Which is why Dad always strategically hands Mom the mimosa on Mother’s Day. When you’re hitting the champagne before you get out of bed in the morning, it makes it tougher to judge the midday beer over the grill.)

The family eats outside and, truth be told, it’s pretty great. Mom put together a nice spread and what family man doesn’t enjoy grilling for his family on a beautiful afternoon? The kids even hold it together for a while. Maybe it’s because Mom reiterated to them that it was Father’s Day prior to eating but, forced or not, no iPads or kids nagging each other is always a good thing. This brief, peaceful moment with family is what the day is all about. Dad convinces himself he will remember today next year.

Wait, didn’t he make the same promise last year?

Satisfied that the Father’s Day box has been checked, Mom lets the oldest child head to a friend’s house. The youngest heads to the TV. Dad goes in to help with dishes and grab another beer. It’s been a decent afternoon, but the day is far from over for Dad. With Mother’s Day only 11 months away, he knows he has got to start planning.



Ah, Father's Day

For just one day a year, a family man is released of those rigorous Sunday obligations. On Father’s Day, a family man can put the needs of others on the backburner and think only of himself, while he engages in whatever his family has planned for him.



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