It’s always a slippery slope when one of your young children asks you what you want for Father’s Day. You can’t tell them what you really want, because it would probably deviate from the pre-approved list of fatherly gift items.
It’s always a slippery slope when one of your young children asks you what you want for Father’s Day. You can’t tell them what you really want, because it would probably deviate from the pre-approved list of fatherly gift items, made up almost entirely of things that will enable you better fulfill your duties as man of the house. All that 72-inch wall-mounted television would do is make you into even more of a slacker than you are right now.
This is why Father’s Day inevitably entails presents like power tools, which come with the implicit message that your household efforts have been lacking a certain efficacy that can only be remedied by 230 foot-pounds of torque. And yet for some reason no one ever thinks to mark Mother’s Day by giving mom, say, an iron, probably because she would be completely justified in cracking it over your head with the assumption that a spa certificate would fall out of it.
Of course, when the kids are still young, the mother is still in charge of Father’s Day gift-giving, so there’s always the chance that she’ll break down and get you something fun. That’s if she doesn’t resent how little you’re doing to help care for this baby that’s taken over her life, a feeling she would harbor even if you somehow, in your spare time, learned to breastfeed.
Before long the decision falls to the kids, though, by which point they’ve been brainwashed as to the type of gifts dads want. Besides tools, there are neckties, grill accessories and lawn and garden items, up to and including fertilizer. (“Aw, thanks kids! You bought me poop!”) It’s apparently widely assumed that fathers aren’t happy unless they’re building, fixing, grilling and growing, in a tie and all at once if possible.
(The exception to the Father’s Day practicality rule is golf merchandise – and judging by all the golf-themed cards, it seems like something every father is supposed to be doing, and doing terribly. Although I suppose if you believed greeting cards, every supposedly hot woman would actually turn out to be a monkey.)
Of course, eventually the kids start making you your gifts in school. In my day we always made ashtrays — the anti-smoking movement must have been a big blow to the nation’s elementary school teachers. What they seem to have settled on in its place is an ashtray that you can put paper clips in, unless you want to go the more practical route and just take up smoking.
The school-made gifts have a few benefits, though: For one thing, they take the pressure off Mom, who no longer has to stand in Sears trying to determine which tool would best facilitate the removal of your posterior from the recliner. But even better, they allow your kids to gush a little bit in your general direction.
As I write this, I haven’t yet seen this year’s presents, but I’m thinking of the baseball-shaped magnet my son gave me last year declaring that “You’re My Superstar,” or the laminated bookmark from my daughter that declared her love for me in big purple letters and has traveled with me from book to book for the last three years, even though you can’t use it to fix, grill or grow anything.
Of course, these gifts usually come accompanied by ecstatic cries of “Happy Father’s Day!” as my kids bounce onto me before I even get out of bed. In fact, when they ask me in April or May what I want for Father’s Day, I tell them that morning greeting is all I really need.
Although if my wife asks me, I tell her I want the TV.
Editor’s note: This column appeared originally in GOODlife magazine. Visit GOODlife on the Web at wickedlocal.com/goodlife.
Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/pchianca. To receive At Large by e-mail, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”