This Sunday is Father’s Day, an occasion that will be marked in my house. I have two daughters, which makes me a dad, as was my father before me, and his father before him and… well, you get the picture.
My father died when I was young and I came late to the Dad role myself. I was forty-seven when my first daughter was born and it was three years before my second daughter decided to make an appearance. This meant that I had a thirty-five-year drought between Father’s Day celebrations. Perhaps that’s partly why the day is so special for me. But it also freaks me out. I can’t look at my girls without marvelling at the absurdity of being personally responsible* for such delightful, complex, and intriguing people.
First of all, my two girls are so damn smart. In just a couple of years they became fluent in a language — that’s incredible! (Fluent: the ability to talk on and on and on about such topics as the Tooth Fairy industry or skipping rope etiquette.)
But it’s not just their smarts that make them so remarkable. Now, I know that all parents feel their kids are special, but in my case this really is true. My girls are kind and generous and always get their chores done. Oh wait, I’m thinking of Laura and Mary from Little House on the Prairie. We’ve been watching the DVDs and sometimes I get confused. But my two are kind and generous.
I (mostly) treasure the time I get to spend with them. Unlike my own father, and probably many of his generation, I choose to hang out with my kids a lot. Lately I’ve been taking the half-hour walk to school with them in the morning. (I even let them wear shoes, unlike when I was a kid.) The girls take turns making up stories to pass the time and I marvel at the ease with which they can create an entire universe and populate it with characters and creatures. What a gift!
And sometimes we talk about more serious topics such as their playground dramas, wiggly teeth, or future aspirations. For example, on one of these walks my youngest shared her plans to be a Princess-Librarian when she grows up. A wise career choice, it seems to me. Not only does it capitalize on her love of books but, after a hard day working in the stacks, who wouldn’t want to grab their favourite tiara and head over to the Prince’s palace for some down time?
Whatever my girls decide to do with their lives, I know that I will be proud of them (as long as they never wear torn fishnet stockings with shorts. I don’t think I could ever forgive them for that).
Being a dad also means that I don’t have as much time for the quiet things I used to do. Romantic dinners with my wife have been replaced with loud and cheerful recounts of everyone’s day as we eat and laugh together. Hitchcock thrillers have been replaced by Shrek I, II, and III (and the Shrek Christmas and Halloween specials)! And settling down with a good spy novel has been replaced by one of the highlights of my day. Because no matter how much bad behaviour has taken place, whether it is me swearing, me losing my temper, or me forgetting to serve the kids fruits and vegetables, at the end of the day I know I’ll have one of my girls snuggled up to me as we share a book together.
To all the dads out there — Happy Father’s Day!
– Fred Horler
*I admit that it should read “partly responsible.” This reminds me of something I heard the other day:
Questions kids ask their Mother: “Mom, where are my shoes?” “Mom, what’s for dinner?” “Mom, can you get me a band-aid?”
Questions kids ask their Father: “Dad, where’s Mom?”