Forget the sox and ties, and trips to the park, here’s a grab bag of stuff dad Ben Smithurst is hoping to receive on Father’s Day.
The first thing you need to realise about Father’s Day is that it is a solid gold rort.
Here’s why: on Mother’s Day, what does Mum expect? A day to relax away from the kid, or kids. Preferably at some sort of overpriced spa where she can take a bunch of avocado-face-mask selfies and use lots of #mummy #winetime-style hashtags.
And good for her. Mumming is really hard. Take a load off.
But on Father’s Day, what does Dad get? To spend even more time with the sprogs! As a fun special treat for you. Woohoo! Except, not woohoo.
Honestly, I’d rather the spa, and I hate spas. Father’s Day is an Orwellian construct likely created by a secret international cabal of mums.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kid and I’ll love his forthcoming sibling just as much, or more if she’s cuter or I can make more money when I use her to shill premium German SUVs.
But this dichotomy — mums get time off, dads get double time — is rooted in antiquated gender roles, where all wives were housewives and dads worked Mad Men hours and then went drinking.
Nowadays, most dads are way more hands-on.
What I’d really like for Father’s Day is a break from being puked on, shouted at, lead around by the finger and/or forced to translate the crazy demands of a 13kg sociopath.
Here are eight things I would prefer to the four-hour trip to the park they get as a ‘gift’.
1. Hangover cover
Jeremy Clarkson once said that “speed doesn’t kill. It’s suddenly becoming stationary, that’s what gets you”. And despite the fact that he shamelessly ripped off Douglas Adams, he’s right. Well, once you’re a dad, the same is true of drinking.
Pre-fatherhood, hangovers were a relative doddle, because, at worst, I could indulge in a self-pitying lie-in — a kind of slow deceleration — or even (oh, joy!) a recovery session.
But now, as a dad, a night on the cans is like going from 0-100km/h at F1 pace, then slamming into the first-turn Armco because I’ve forgotten how to steer.
And because my wife is pregnant again (and needs every bit of shut-eye she can get) I’m up at 3am regardless, rocking our son back to sleep because obviously he’s chosen tonight to wail like the lovechild of Jimmy Barnes and a banshee.
So, yes, I’d love a leave pass for a night-out with the boys, even though I’ll fall asleep at 9pm because that’s what I do now.
But the real gift would be the morning-off the next day: a giant lie-in, until outlandishly late — like 8am! — where I can recover in flatulent and blissful misery.
2. A pub lunch
Yeah, we’ve had these together before, and they’re great, aren’t they?
Except, this time, I’d like to be able to sit about when the kid bolts through the front bar, or takes a dump under the pool table, or tries to put a cheese stick in his butt, while someone else deals with him.
Honestly, after the first incident, I’ll inevitably help corral him anyway — I can’t stop myself. But it’s the offer that counts.
3. A free pass to enjoy the present you haven’t done the maths on
Okay, so a lot of these gifts turn out to be various forms of leave passes — sorry. But here’s the thing: there’s no real point giving me something that the rigours of fatherhood will preclude me from enjoying. (Less demanding than the rigours of motherhood, admittedly, but still quite rigorous rigours.)
For example, for my first Father’s Day, I was given a PlayStation game from a series I loved (Assassin’s Creed: Origins). Brilliant! Unfortunately, the game takes between 27 and 78 hours to finish.
I have managed 11 hours, total, this year — if the TV is on, the boy is either watching, demanding to watch, or screaming because he’s not currently being allowed to watch PJ f*cking Masks.
Or my wife is “catching up” on 19 seasons of Say Yes To The Dress. Actually, come to think of it, what we probably need is a second TV.
4. A weekend away with you
Parenthood is overwhelming. But a weekend away together, just us, can be just the thing, particularly if it’s somewhere that particularly aligns with my passions — be they wine, food, surfing, or throwing frozen fish into the distance. It’s not so cool to spend actual Father’s Day without the sprog, but it doesn’t have to be that weekend.
5. A weekend away from you
Parenthood is overwhelming. But a weekend as far away from you and our bundle of joy as possible can be just the thing. Particularly if it’s somewhere that particularly aligns with my passions, like (briefly) not being with you and our bundle of joy.
6. A shower beer holder
Because if I’m going to dissolve into cliché it might as well be the sort of daffy American sitcom version of dad-dom that you and I can both enjoy.
For example, with this device, I can drink beer in the shower! And you, my wife, can mock me, when showing your friends around the house, for being the sort of person who has a special device for drinking beer in the shower.
Seriously though, in the past month I haven’t been able to sit on the toilet for more than two minutes before my son tries to kick the door down, demanding to watch, like a weirdo.
Or his pregnant mum, who now must wee IMMEDIATELY RIGHT NOW STRAIGHTAWAY at random intervals, gazumps my throne. The shower is the only bolt hole I have left.
7. A high-brow, slightly wanky magazine subscription
Hey, did you know that, for example, Australian motoring bible Wheels has an enormous subscriber base that’s entirely down to dads being hard to buy for and kids/wives/etc just re-upping the deal every year?
But why not go for something more bespoke, that I can leave on the coffee table to pretend I’m a little cooler, or more cultured, than I am? Because now I’m not, and our newly ambulant, cupboard opening, obsessed-with-ripping-stuff son has ruined most of the old magazines I’d kept.
There are lots of options. For example, Retromotive is a new, subs-only classic car rag made by two blokes in Brisbane. White Horses is a surfing culture magazine that comes out four times a year but is too pricey to justify buying at the newsagent, a place I no longer visit anyway. Or Monster Children, if he’s still trying to be cool, or Dumbo Feather, if he likes profiles, or Catalyst, if he wants to seize the means of production, smash the state and kill the rich.
8. Very expensive noise-cancelling headphones
Obviously. We now live with a tiny being who screams like an interplanetary klaxon calling Kthulu across dimensions at least 12 times a day.
Caveat emptor, though, obviously. I bought my own pair of these, and used them to play Assassin’s Creed while my wife took the boy for a walk to the beach. And locked herself out.
I was so engrossed in the game that I couldn’t hear her banging on the back door, in the rain, for maybe 10 minutes. When I finally twigged, and let her in, she hurled the child at me like Bodhi throwing that pit bull at Keanu in Point Break. It was totally not relaxing.
Also, if dad has a pair of these, mum will be the only parent who can hear the baby cry.
READ MORE FROM BEN SMITHURST:
- You’re becoming a dad? 10 unexpected ways you’re about to change
- Seven things expecting dads can do to keep their partner happy
- INCOMING! Six new -dad survival tips to get you through the first year