“It’s just commercial bollocks to keep Clinton Cards afloat.”
That’s the line often fed to single folk on Valentine’s Day by people who are not single but do still give and receive Valentines’ cards, despite their viewpoint (no idea where I’ve heard it, like.) Anyway, it doesn’t really wash with dadless children on Fathers’ Day, because Fathers’ Day is more than that (and also because it’s probably best not to say “bollocks” in front of children.)
I don’t want to define parenting roles by gender etc. etc. and all that jazz, but there are certain jobs that do feel like dad jobs. This list isn’t exhaustive, but includes a few of the ones that spring to mind from the past few years:
– Teaching him to wee standing up and not get it all over the bathroom (might have done a better job at that than a bloke could have done?)
– Assembling a flat-pack, high-sleeper bed that had a picture of two men on the list of tools required to build it.
– Teaching him to ride the bike.
– Converting the “too babyish” Thomas the Tank water table into a green sandpit called Dinosaur World.
– Making robots, rockets and pinball machines out of rubbish.
– Piggy backs.
– Taking him to the park when I’ve got period pains / toothache / want to hide under my duvet and never come out.
– Bug collecting.
– Finding out the football scores and equipping him with them before school on a Monday morning.
– Laughing at his ideas for rides in ‘Disgusting Funland’, a vile theme park of his creation. (Imagine a log flume where…….)
– Lugging an increasingly heavy but very cherubic-looking sleepyhead up our extremely steep stairs.
Then there’s the stuff that’s meant to be shared. Obviously, there’s the breadwinning and bills side of things, but there’s also the mad rush of stuff to do that is bedtime. It only occurred to me when a couple babysat a few weeks ago that the end of the day must be much easier with two grown-ups: “He listened to him read while I cleared up after tea, then he sorted out his uniform and footy kit while I bathed him and read him his bedtime story.”
Oh yeah, the penny dropped, that must be what people do.
I used to dread Fathers’ Day. I remember the first card he brought home from nursery: a cardboard football with wax crayon scrawls and “To Someone Special” on the front. I was having a bad day, so I cried, then balanced it on the telly until he toddled into it and it fell down the back with the spider carcasses and dust.
The following two years, we managed to be away for the approach to the big day, then he started school and they don’t make Fathers’ Day cards there (which is a shame, because they do make them for Mothers’ Day – but it proves Tom probably isn’t the only one in that boat.)
I don’t get sad on Fathers’ Day now and neither does Tom. As regularly discussed, he’s got loads of blokes in his life who think he’s ace. And a mum who’s a mum and a dad in one.
So, happy Fathers’ Day to you, especially if you’re a 2-in-1 / Transformer / robot in disguise.
PS: I know everyone else puts the apostrophe in the other place, but I think it looks wrong because it’s a day for all fathers.