A Happy Father’s Day to all of you readers out there who happen to have kids – I’m not discriminating against those who are not breeders, but I have to tell you… even though Father’s Day is probably a mid-20th century invention by the multi-billion dollar gift industry, it does feel really good to have a day celebrating being a dad.
For her part, Tessa gave me some new latté cups, a croissant in bed, and drum lessons! Through a freak crossover of mutual friends, I ended up in a basketball game in the afternoon, populated by some fah-moose people. David Arquette was on my team, and he has a nice drive to the hoop, as well as a confident finish. On the sidelines, Lucy played with Brooke Shields, who was unbelievably nice. We spent the rest of the day at home with Tessa’s best friend Jason, soaking in a perfect day at the beach.
(Oh, and Michelle – we went to an art opening with the King of Men last night. Just wanted to rub it in.)
Perhaps Father’s Day feels nice because the essence of “fatherhood” is a constant fight for relevance. Our genetics expect us to run away from the family after the baby is born, which is why infants are engineered to resemble the father for the first few months. Our nipples don’t work, our frustration level tends to be a foot lower than our female counterparts, and unless you really try hard, you can occasionally find yourself a spectator in your own family.
Popular culture fucks with fatherhood all the time, especially in the Schlub Dad school of advertising. Countless ads feature a dumb-as-a-fucking-bag-of-rocks dad trying to cook dinner for his kids, or do the laundry, or some other devastatingly unfunny joke that should have been shuffled off in the late ’50s. These character actors are either fat and bald, or disheveled and messy, and they allow American men to revel in their easy uselessness. Shit, both Donald Trump and Adam Sandler just told the press they were never going to touch a diaper.
I swore I’d never be that kind of person. I am involved in Lucy’s upbringing almost as much as those creepy child psychologists writing doctoral dissertations. My lack of a physical office away from provides constant contact. Tessa and I split the mornings down the middle, meaning I get those slightly-agonizing-but-very-sweet hours at 6am when she can be the most charmingly antagonizing. I have salved her teething, I have rocked her to sleep upon my breast, I was her “dream feed,” and we have invented games together. She now calls me “Dad-doh!” and marches around the house shouting it with her palm extended skyward.
And yet… there is something between her and Tessa that I will never replicate. I don’t know if the dads out there reading this feel the same way – and I try not to use this as an excuse – but those two ladies have a Vulcan mind meld that can only truly be appreciated across the room. There will come a day when I will be her savior, but in these early years, those two are connected by superstring theory, gravitational fields, and strange quarks.
It is the struggle to emulate this, the desire to share in your child’s subconscious, that separate “guys who have kids” from “fathers,” and it is the latter to whom Sunday was dedicated. Paul McCartney turned 64 on Father’s Day, and when he asked “will you still need me, will you still feed me?” in his song “When I’m 64,” he was really asking about being relevant.
So here’s to us, dads, in our constant fight for relevance, our battle with obsoletion, and our ability to do the right thing despite our occasional desire to go on a three-week single-malt road trip with our best friends to Vegas. It’s a Celebration of the Expected. Father’s Day is for all of us who opted in, so that when our kids look behind them and to the left, they will see that we are here, smiling, and wouldn’t miss it for anything.
i’m sorry, honey, but I HAVE TO CLIP YOUR FINGERNAILS!!!