Since 1966, when President Johnson signed a proclamation setting aside the third Sunday in June to honor American dads, Father’s Day has been an uncomfortable fit for many men. There’s something a bit off about expecting 7-year-olds to be grateful. The best dads aren’t looking for praise: “Just go be a kid—I’ll do the work around here,” is how the tape in their heads runs. Still, we don’t just ignore presidential proclamations around here! And we think it’s good for the kids to recognize the guy for all he does. So here’s how to help them give Dad the special salute he deserves.
These days, Dad may be a health-and-nutrition guy, but Father’s Day is a great excuse to forgo his usual bran flakes and bananas in favor of a good old-fashioned breakfast served in bed. The menu should include breakfast meats (yes, more than one), pancakes, a tall glass of fresh orange juice, granola with giant blackberries—way more food than a man can eat. Equip the kids with a detail about every ingredient and they’ll take it on themselves to do play-by-play, as in, “This coffee is from Hawaii, Daddy.” Of course, Dad will respond in enthusiastic kind as he wonders in awe, “Who cooked this bacon?” Upon learning that 6-year-old Becky did (she helped—right, Mom?), he’ll declare it “the most perfect, crispiest bacon ever cooked in the state of Illinois.”
Whether the card is store-bought or homemade, its message has to be customized to the particular father. “The funnest dad in the world” is good; so is “the funniest dad in the world.” “I’m so happy you’re my dad,” or something equally simple, will make a fella’s day and year and life.
The first present is sentimental: a framed photo of Dad’s team (Mom and kids), taken on a special day from a few months back—at a ball game, say, or Grandma’s birthday party. It should be framed (by you and the kids, not a pro) along with an artifact from the event (like a ticket stub). This will fall into the Dad category of “prized possessions” and be displayed in his study or workshop or on his side of Mom and Dad’s room. The other gift is something to share, like a gift certificate from the local miniature golf course for rounds together. Speaking of which...
The U.S. Open
If Dad’s a golf fan, don’t forget that the U.S. Open always concludes on Father’s Day. So be sure that from late afternoon to early evening, Dad is free to collapse in front of the tube. After all, when he’s not at work, he’s fixing something or planting something or teaching the kids to throw a spiral or solve a quadratic equation. Doesn’t he deserve a few hours of golf watching? Kid-delivered snacks—any bacon left from breakfast?—or a cold pilsner from Mom can make a man feel momentarily like a king.
When the kids are asleep and you finally tumble into bed exhausted from cooking a six-course breakfast, framing photos and serving snacks, don’t forget to give your guy an I’m-lucky-to-have-you squeeze as you drift off together, savoring the parental conspiracy in which the two of you are so deeply and sweetly bound.