My wife asked me the following question this week, more than once: “What do you want for Father’s Day?”
I haven’t yet given a satisfactory answer to that question.
According to many of the commercials on television recently, most fathers must want the latest tech gadget or discount suits and ties.
The concept of gift-giving for Father’s Day strikes me a bit counter-productive.
We share a bank account, my wife and I, and there are many things we’d do and/or buy with the right amount of discretionary income.
Kids, though, come first. How can I possibly ask her to spend our money, hundreds of dollars for some of these gifts being touted for, “Dads and grads,” on something specifically for me, when there’s no shortage of activities our entire family can enjoy?
It seems very important to my wife that I feel appreciated on Father’s Day, and that should tell you all you need to know about the kind of selfless person she is.
So, on this Father’s Day, I think the thing I want most is to make sure that I behave in a way that honors the adoration my family gives me.
And that’s perhaps something each of us paternal influences should consider tomorrow — on the day devoted to honoring the bond between father and child — making certain we are worthy of being called, “Dad.”
Talk is as cheap as the tacky neckties often associated with Father’s Day, and any upwardly mobile male can claim to love his children.
The evidence is in the example we set for our kids.
Last weekend I was trying to put my son’s shorts back on him after changing a diaper, and the boy just would not lie still long enough to get both legs in their respective holes.
It seemed like forever as I tried multiple times to put his shorts on him in such a way that both legs weren’t on the same side, in the same hole.
Frustration mounted with each unsuccessful attempt until finally I removed the shorts, flipped them aside and stomped off out of the room, leaving him crawling about our living room in only a diaper.
I am not a perfect father.
In the car on the way home following a Memorial Day trip to the zoo, he inexplicably stuck both hands into his mouth, gagging himself until he threw up.
Dumfounded at what transpired in the back seat, I apparently thought the healthiest way to channel my frustration was to exclaim, “What were you thinking? I just don’t know what you were thinking!”
He only recently turned a year old.
I am not a perfect father.
But it’s not about being a perfect father. Rather, it’s about being present in the lives of children.
Later on that night following our zoo trip, as my wife and I prepared him for bed, I apologized to our son for talking to him the way I had.
The way he pulled at my shorts until I scooped and hugged him was a strong indication he’d forgiven me, and I suspect he would’ve forgiven me whether or not I explicitly apologized.
I don’t think our kids expect their fathers, or mothers either, for that matter, to be perfect, but they do expect us to be present for them.
They expect us to instill in them healthy limits and teach them virtues such as love, patience and forgiveness.
As our son grows by the day, my wife and I are preparing in earnest for the birth of our second child next month.
Raising one child has been difficult enough. The prospect of another baby is positively daunting.
However, I’m reassured at the thought my children will love me no matter what.
I don’t have to be a flawless parent, I just have to be there for them, doing my best to exemplify respect and patience for others and the value of a good work ethic.
One of the ridiculous colloquialisms my dad used to say was, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
I hated that. Even as a kid it sounded like nonsense, and it is not something I intend to repeat.
Of course your kids are going to do as you do. They don’t know any better.
Children’s first lessons in manners, respect, love and empathy come from their parents. Sure, well-meaning relatives, teachers and coaches can shape and sharpen some of those traits, but the seeds must be planted by the parents.
My wish is to enjoy decades worth of Father’s Day gifts from my children — cherishing all the silly cards, neckties and macaroni pictures they can create.
But what we, as fathers, should want more than anything, is to strive to do everything we can to warrant the unconditional love our children and families have for us anyway.
Nate Smith is Examiner staff writer that hopes to spend Father’s Day afternoon at a Dayton Dragons baseball game with his little buddy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter, @n8SmithExaminer.