Jon de Vos: Daddy Dearest
June 17, 2010
“To be a successful father … there’s one absolute rule: When you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.”
– Earnest Hemingway
I’m sure Ernie was just kidding. Most dads take their jobs seriously and become an important role model in a kid’s life. Even when Dad’s off walking the Appalachian Trail with his soulmate, kids still look for his hiking boots by the door.
Father’s Day is markedly different from Mother’s Day, because most Moms are a lot more self-sufficient than Dads. Heaven forbid, but if you forget Mother’s Day, Mom will understand and soon forgive you. Especially if you take them out to dinner on their birthday.
On Mother’s Day you can procrastinate right down to the wire, Flowers by Wire, that is. A quick call to the florist and Merlin Olson personally sees to it that your Mom gets a lovely bouquet, complete with Mylar balloons and a heart-shaped vase. Mom knows you put it off until the last minute but she just doesn’t care.
Dads, on the other hand, will hold a grudge until Christmas. You’ll be cut out of the will, and you’ll never wind up with that lawnmower you’ve been eyeing in the garage. It, the good ladder and the chain saw, will go to the other son, the snot who sucks up to dad, professing devotion and concern, mostly regarding the disposition of the lawnmower.
In 2007, U.S. custodial fathers, numbering 1.7 million, comprising 15 percent of single parents, received $2.8 billion in child support while custodial mothers received $18.6 billion.
Unless you had a peculiar childhood, you don’t send flowers to dad. You have to know the things he likes. No father ever wanted another tie. One tie is one tie too many. Men only wear them to lower the blood supply to the brain so they can get through a business meeting without a nervous breakdown.
Hey! Odds are this guy is over 40, don’t you think if he wanted a new Zebco fishing reel he’d have bought it by now? A new wallet’s gonna wind up in the top drawer with the pile of wallets of years gone by. A Ferrari’s probably out of the question, but gosh, if you could swing it, I’m sure it would lever you into first place in the “Favorite Kid” category.
Father’s Day has only been around for 38 years, being formally adopted in 1972 by Richard M. Nixon, arguably the finest hour of that particular presidency. Prior to that day it was only informally observed by dutiful children like me.
During a particularly boring Mother’s Day sermon extolling the virtues of maternal sacrifices for the offspring, Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd said to herself, “Enough!” She and her five brothers had been raised solely by her father who did all the sacrificing in their family.
With a lot of help from the local Spokane YMCA, the first Father’s Day was observed citywide in 1910. But it never caught on nationally. The all-male Congress felt that the move might be seen as too self-serving and refused to pat themselves on the back.
What a change a century has wrought! In a mere hundred years the Halls of Congress have turned into a smelly sty filled with self-serving swine wallowing in the trough of our taxes.
The idea of a national holiday to honor dad kicked around for 62 more years before achieving national dignity in 1972, arguably Tricky Dick’s brightest moment.
Sit back, dads. Enjoy your day.