Father’s Day 2014
Of all the animal kingdom, with few exceptions, only the human species requires that the male stick around and take an active role throughout the life of the offspring.
It begins at birth when you hold that squirming, cone headed bundle of joy and realize that it recognizes you, the father. Everyone else, Mom, the nursing staff and all others who have been there know that the grimace you see as recognition is just gas but you continue on in the belief that you have become special in this little something’s life.
Your participation is limited during the first months, to feigning empathy during 2 AM breast feedings and trying without success to stay awake. You understand that the infant’s only interest at this stage of life is food, warmth and regular pooping and your involvement consists mainly of helping to clean up after each.
As a sidebar: These biological needs re-gain significance from time to time during the offspring’s life, particularly in that of a male. They become a priority during the teenage years and then again after college when hopefully he is living somewhere else.
You start to take the little one with you in your travels; to Fleet Farm, meetings or on a roofing job. Like a trophy or prize catch you matter-of-factly have him or her around just to show off, being careful not to go too far from home in case the child starts to smell or spits up in the truck.
It’s those times that involve dirt and sweat along with the possibility of injury or damage that your role begins to gain prominence in the child’s life. Soccer Moms notwithstanding, it’s the soccer, T-ball, Pop Warner, hook baiting, camping and learning to drive dads that take center stage. If anything, anything at all results in some liability, that’s all on you.
Tools, your favorite fishing pole, your recliner; all become fair game to these offspring who seem intent on destroying everything you hold dear. You cringe and soon understand that they are only six and trying to be you. Your perspective changes constantly.
It’s about this time in their lives that pride (yours) begins to swell as even the manliest left tackle in the audience sheds a joyful tear watching his child score an actual two-pointer in a game or play ‘Fur Elise’ with both hands on a baby grand piano.
Patience becomes not only a virtue but necessary for survival as you teach the young to drive a car. You hear your mouth calmly saying, “Always look first to the left, then to the right and back again to the left before pulling out into traffic,” while your brain is screaming, “Look out! Watch that car! You’re going to get us both killed! Pay attention!”
Then you beam just a little as they return from their road test and walk away with a probationary driver’s license having successfully reached another milestone. Ten minutes after being scared to death of driving, they now want to use your car by themselves-and of course, need some money for gas.
If you have done your job well or even just survived, there are soon to be more moments that make it all worthwhile. Those mostly involve walking; to the podium to accept their diploma whether high school, college or grad school, or walking down the aisle with a daughter on her wedding day. There’s a reason why dads get to do this. It allows you more tears.
Then one day while your son sits holding a bundle of wrinkled joy and exclaims to you, his dad, “see that, he recognizes me.” You just smile.
Happy Father’s Day.
‘Today’s Take’, Green Bay Press Gazette 6-24-2014