If you are like me, Father’s Day would be best started after I have had the chance to read the newspaper, have a nice leisurely breakfast and enjoy some quiet time.
My dad would get up at the same time on the weekend that he did during the week. It was a sort of ritual for him, followed by a long morning working in the garage, his radio playing in the background.
The garage was an escape for him, but he could be convinced after a while to play catch or engage in conversation. Even now, routines play a large part in his life, much like my own.
Where the garage was his sanctuary, the yard and gardens are mine. If the boys are willing to step outdoors into the sunshine and away from the game consoles, we often have pretty good conversations. Parked under a tree, we might drink a can of Dr. Pepper or Coke and hash out the events of the week.
Part of being a father, I suppose, is the time that we take to have these conversations, much less formal and in a place that is not full of distractions.
Fatherhood also means being around when your children need you in general.
During the school year, it is important for me to help with homework and work through issues, even in subjects that I am not particularly good at. Let’s just say that science is not my strong suit but, having said that, we certainly cannot expect success if we aren’t willing to work at it.
Over the last few years, I have become pretty good at math and science. I can report that repetition and a good internet search can do wonders for your ability to comprehend topics that were very difficult three decades ago.
I don’t expect a great deal of warmth and fuzziness when we are doing schoolwork, because I can understand their frustration. As a former teacher, I know that all kids learn at a different rate, but it is at the end of school year, when we have a chance to take that deep breath, that we can appreciate the hard work.
My Father’s Day gift came in a print-out last week; we managed to work through rain, sleet, snow and darkness. Just like the U.S. Postal Service, we delivered, and with a smile of satisfaction and some relief, we can say that the next challenge can be met.
We can take a deep breath, move on, and realize that any mistakes we made lead to growth both for child and father.
Life and fatherhood are about being there when it is convenient and when it is difficult. Sometimes it is pointing out that there is another way of doing things that won’t require quite so much effort.
This year, like my dad did with me, I am taking my sons into my world, teaching them that as much as you like rolling out of bed at 11:30 and spending the bulk of your day playing Xbox, you might want to cut the lawn before it gets too high.
Sometimes we might even find the time for a reward, a Blizzard from DQ or a shake from McDonald’s. It doesn’t have to be all work, but it is about being there for your children. The reward will come years from now when you can have a conversation with them from a shared perspective.