Father’s Day has always been a token gesture.
Ignored by almost everyone except retailers and those blokes who scale Parliament in Batman outfits, its true significance has always been proven by its visibility in Clintons Cards.
For Valentine’s Day the whole store turns pink. Every shelf is stuffed with heart-shaped tat and teddy bears, and you can legitimately grope an employee without risk of legal action.
Mother’s Day is worse. You can’t leave the house without being bombarded with guilt adverts on billboards, radio and TV. At shopping centres, every store finds a way to work the event into a sales pitch. Clothes shops, jewellers…even cobblers get in on the act:
“Give Mum a good night’s sleep. Get new keys cut.”
And then there’s Father’s Day.
Where cards are tucked away in the shop somewhere between family birthdays and bereavement condolences. And they’re never sure what sort of gift to suggest either. Just yesterday I saw this Father’s Day promo in the local supermarket:
Yes, that’s right, because a Dad wants nothing more than to wash his face while reading a novel.
Today is my fourth Father’s Day. This morning I got the gift of two kids screaming in my ear at 7am, and one foot right in the testicles. I’m still unsure if that was the kids or Alex.
When I was a kid my Dad was up and out of the house before most of us were awake. He worked hard during the week, but was always home for dinner, when we’d gather at the table and find out which members of his factory staff were having it off with each other. On a Friday night he’d bring home magazines for me and my sisters, smuggling in chocolate contraband under my Mum’s nose. And the weekends belonged to us. He was our taxi, our climbing frame, our playmate…he managed my sunday league football team, and even made me captain. Despite the fact that a dog amputee would have been a more effective choice.
As I got older, he taught me some of life’s most important lessons:
- The value of money. When I was old enough to work, he stopped my pocket money and only reinstated it when I had a weekend job.
- The importance of keeping a low profile. In the swimming pool on holiday he taught me the art of ogling holidaymakers while underwater.
- How to keep things quiet. Usually when an extravagant purchase was concerned – a new car, an electric golf buggy – he would give me a sneak preview so I could share in his short-lived excitement, right before Mum found out and hit the roof.
Thank you Dad. For giving me the same myopic view of my kids that you’ve always had of us. For helping me navigate some of life’s toughest decisions. And for being the father I aspire to be.