When I was a boy I remember asking my mother why there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but there wasn’t a Kid’s Day. She said what every mother says when she hears that question: “Everyday is kid’s day.”
I grudgingly accepted that as a child, but now that I’m a father, I’ve begun to question that conventional wisdom. I’m not one of those fathers who says “kids have it so much easier than we had it.” In a lot of ways, kids actually have a much rougher time of it than we did. Most kids don’t have a parent at home with them full time. They are over-scheduled. They are living in a hyper-competitive time, and have so much more pressure on them. After they turn eight or nine, how much time do they really have to just be kids?
I bring this up because today is my seventeenth Father’s Day as a dad. We don’t really celebrate it at my house. My boys have traditionally done little or nothing to commemorate Father’s Day, and it used to bum me out. I selfishly thought: “Can’t they show a little appreciation even one day a year?”
But the truth is, they show it to me every day. They show it when Sean asks me to go in the backyard and play catch with him, or asks me to kick the ball around, or beams with pride when I tell him I’ve volunteered to be his team’s coach. They show it when Johnny goes with me to the Cubs game, or tells me that he loved dinner, or saddles up behind my office computer and points out that I’ve been working too hard. They show it when Tommy listens to music with me, asks my advice, or begs me to tell him stories about my childhood, and our family history.
They give me gifts that are way better than a tie or a sweater. They give me pride. Tommy gave it to me when he was given an award by the Archdiocese for community service. Johnny gave it to me when he was awarded the Presidential Education Award. Sean gave it to me when he was named a little league All-Star.
There are so many rewarding experiences when you’re a dad. I tend to write about the rougher moments because they are usually funnier, but for every rough moment, there are lots of wonderful ones. If you ask me, the pendulum has swung back in the parent’s favor. That’s why I no longer accept the conventional wisdom that everyday is kid’s day.
I won’t speak for every dad, but for this one father pushing 50 and trying to appreciate his limited time left with his kids, everyday is Father’s Day.