It's tempting to write it off as a 'Hallmark holiday', but there's more to my Father's Day than socks and undies.
I was round at a mate’s place a few years back – let’s call him Craig, because he’ll read this, and he’ll crack the shits that I’ve told this story.
It was in the lead-up to Father’s Day, and Craig’s missus asked him what he wanted for a present.
Quick as a flash, he replied: “Same thing I want every year – steak and a blowjob”.
Craig got neither of those things (same as every year). Instead, he earned what I suspect was a mild concussion from the ‘friendly bump on the head’ his missus doled out, and possibly a new angle grinder.
Father’s Day at my place is a bit more sedate than it is at Craig’s – I get the usual haul of socks, undies and cologne as gifts (which I love…), and I get to spend the day with my boys, doing dad stuff (which I love even more).
I don’t ask for power tools, largely because I am exquisitely bad at using them and I like my fingers precisely where they are.
The early years
My first Father’s Day as a dad was special, if relatively unremarkable.
Blake was about 6 months old, so he didn’t really have much input into the day’s proceedings, other than to barf mightily onto the dining table during lunch.
But it was still a beaut day – time with family, hanging out, a few too many wines with lunch and then home for a nap, with one eye half-open to watch the footy. Perfection.
By the time our second son arrived, Blake was at that toddler stage and learning to draw.
On the morning of Father’s Day, he emerged from the living room, clutching a series of scribbles and vague blobs on a piece of paper to tell me it was a picture of “daddy eating a dragon”.
That was my Father’s Day card that year. I’ve still got that picture somewhere in a box, along with pretty much everything else he’s ever drawn. But that one’s a favourite. That one’s a keeper.
Growing older, growing apart
We’ve passed through the years when the kids laboured over handmade presents. There was the usual stuff. Rocks the teacher painted with the words ‘you rock’ before my kids had learnt to say those words, let alone form decent puns – I hope she was using her left hand for that authentic look, or there’s going to be a generation of kids in my suburb that are about a year behind in their literacy.
There were a couple of years when the kids would burn some toast, stir coffee into hot tap-water and present it all proudly as breakfast in bed. The bad-TV-movie version of Father’s Day (but seriously, you can’t nip out for a B&E and a long black?).
These days, things have changed. I don’t live with my boys any more – an explanation for that is here. But I still look forward to Father’s Day every year.
I still get handmade cards from both my boys (usually still made at daycare or school, but these days Minecraft-related) – and, despite me and their mum being separated, we do something as ‘the whole family’.
We don’t do that very often – so it means a huge amount to me that one of the few times a year we do, it’s because it’s a day set aside to be nice to dad.
More than a ‘Hallmark holiday’ – sort of
The real tradition of Father’s Day goes way back – there was a feast held on 19 March every year to honour St Joseph (remember that guy, the story goes, whose missus got knocked up by God, and he just kind of accepted it? Now there – if the story’s true – is a saint).
The modern interpretation of the day started in the 1920s in America (where else?), following the roaring commercial success of Mother’s Day.
The way we celebrate Father’s Day, it’s a manufactured celebration – but does it matter that ancient kids didn’t have that one Sunday when they’d all present their dads with socks and undies made out of mammoth fur?
Not to me. I don’t want to get all mushy about it, but to me Father’s Day is actually quite special – it’s the one day of the year I always get what I really want more than anything: time with my family.
Sure, for new dads it can all be a little bit naff the first couple of times around. However, as your kids get older, and they begin to show their appreciation for what you do and how much you all love each other, it just gets better and better.
It’s a golden chance for you to reflect on everything you love about being a dad, because it’s one of the best things in the world, I reckon.
And even if you don’t get a fancy present (among other things), you’ve got one day not to change a nappy, make a bottle or do the dishes.
Happy Father’s Day, guys.