“What do you want for Father’s Day?” It should be one of the easiest questions to answer in life. But each year I force myself to think it through very carefully, because there are two ways to go here: selfishness or devotion, and the direction I choose tells me (and everyone else involved in this annual ritual) a lot about where I am in the journey of fatherhood.
Selfishness, of course, would lead in the direction of “Another bottle of single-malt scotch,” or “an iPod and $100 in iTunes downloads,” or “a copy of the book CAD: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor, by Rick Marin.”
But all those choices seem to hark back to an earlier persona; they celebrate a Pre-Dad version of me. As would asking for a “day off,” to go golfing, fishing, or otherwise sporting with the guys. Taking the path of devotion, on the other hand, leads closer to the essence of fatherhood: selflessness and service, a barbecue out back or a family picnic in the park.
So what do you get for the man who has everything (i.e. two beautiful children and a loving wife)? How about a Segway Personal Transporter. Have you seen this thing? It’s a scooter for adults. Two big wheels, a platform, handle bars, and a rechargeable motor; apparently, you control the speed by leaning forward or back.
The Segway was hailed as a revolutionary new mode of transportation some years ago and you can now pick one up second-hand for a few grand on Amazon.com. Leaving the hefty price tag aside, the problem with asking for one is that my wife will insist I attach a mower to the front and get to work on the front lawn.
Other gift ideas? I’d better think of something, or be prepared to show up at work in a necktie in my six-year-old daughter’s favorite shades of yellow and purple. Actually, that might make a nice color combination for a striped shirt from Turnbull & Asser. But I’ve already used up my self-imposed allotment of two per year on those.
Personal grooming items are always popular. I could request one of those antique shaving kits with the powdered soap, the mug, and the brush. But who’s got time for all that before work, and unless I’m seeing my in-laws, I tend not to bother to shave on weekends. An electric shaver might seem a logical choice, but I’ve never felt really “clean” after using one of those. Plus, they remind me that the lawn needs mowing.
True, there’s always cologne. Remember the young brothers in E.T. arguing “Old Spice,” “Sea Breeze!” over their absent father’s workshirt? (A lot of Spielberg movies seem to be about absent fathers.) But while I have tried a progression of scents over the years-Mystic Musk, YSL, Grey Flannel-I’ve never really gotten into the habit of using one on a regular basis. So unless my wife guarantees it will make me irresistible, a gift of cologne is kind of a waste on me.
Maybe this is the wrong track entirely. I’ll tell you what I DON’T want for Father’s Day: No fuss, no crowds, no pressure to do anything. No lavish gifts – not that my budget-conscious family is in danger of splurging; my ten-year-old son has begun offering to use his “own money” to buy his Happy Meals. I tell him that he should save it until he starts his own life and he points out, “My life has already started, Dad!”
“What Dad Really Wants for Father’s Day IsÃ¢Â?Â¦” a good night’s sleep. For my six-year-old to slumber peacefully and not wake up at 5 a.m. and climb into “the big bed.” But that’s probably an unfair request. And I’m sure I’ll be missing those cuddle times soon enough.
Hey, what about asking for some “cuddle time” with Mommy? Nice idea, but who’s going to watch the kids? We haven’t yet gotten around to finding a local babysitter (no teenage girls allowed in the house; I’m afraid of poltergeistsÃ¢Â?Â¦ and grungy boyfriends). And the grandparents live too far away.
What do I REALLY want for Father’s Day? Well, to be perfectly honest, that IS an easy question to answer. Whether on Father’s Day, or on my birthday, or as I toss a coin into a fountain, or stand on the driveway gazing at “the first star I see tonight,” my wish is always the same: I always want only health and happiness for my family. But since we already have that right now (knock wood), I’ll settle for the cologne, and take my chances with Mommy.