1. TOUGH ACTS TO FOLLOW. Throughout our lives, my wife, kids and I have continually marveled at how loving, gentle, patient and devoted my father and father-in-law are. So on this Father’s Day, I have three things to say to my children’s grandfathers: 1. I love you both. 2. Thank you. 3. Why do you always set the bar for fathering so high? (Seriously, try to remember that I, unlike you, am not a member of “The Greatest Generation”!)

2. LOVELY SENTIMENTS. Like all good children, my daughters write moving tributes on their Father’s Day cards, which I always hold on to. I find they offer welcome reassurance later in the year during certain occasional moments – like when I’ve overdone the teasing, refused to extend an allowance, or threatened to read their texts. (Okay, I guess “occasional” is understating the frequency of these occurrences.) At such times, when my daughters let me know I’m “like totally annoying,” it is comforting to have the evidence that there was at least one day in June when they considered me “the greatest dad ever!”

3. NOT SO EASY. When I was a kid, my father never asked for any presents with a pricetag for Father’s Day. Instead, he had a much simpler request: “That you kids all get along.” Easier said than done. There were six of us, after all. While we were a close family and never experienced any knock-down, drag-outs, it was still difficult to resist the standard sibling squabbling. In the end, we gave our father historical novels and more gear for his tropical aquariums and fishing tackle box, which he always happily accepted with a slight amazement, typical of men of his generation, that anyone would take the time to buy him anything. We knew those weren’t what he asked for, but they were gifts much easier to deliver.

4. A MINOR PARENTAL ROLE? I am not one to make big pronouncements about what society might need to do to recognize that fathers are just as important as mothers in children’s lives. I will just take note of one fact that our family will take full advantage of tomorrow: It is much easier to get a brunch reservation on Father’s Day than Mother’s Day.

5. BAD FAKER. I am not particularly proud of this, but I do have a reputation in my family as a not always gracious accepter of gifts. It is undoubtedly because I don’t feign gratitude very well if I don’t like something. My worst offense was on a Father’s Day when my youngest was nine. Selfishly, I had been expecting a little payback for all the normal fatherly things I’d been doing for her – helping with homework, driving her to soccer practice and games, buying gifts every time she had to attend another birthday party. The weeks up to Father’s Day, I’d been dropping hints that I wouldn’t mind an iTunes or Amazon gift card, even if it was only for $5, which I figured she could easily afford from some of her allowance money. On Father’s Day morning, when my wife and oldest daughter put out beautifully wrapped presents, my youngest’s eyes opened wide with alarm – clearly she had forgotten what day it was. She asked me to hold off opening my presents, then dashed into her room and closed the door. Five minutes later she emerged carrying an inflatable plastic guitar I’d gotten her for Christmas a couple years before and to which she’d added, in hastily scribbled magic marker, the words, “World’s Best Dad.” Showing my customary lack of tact, I said, “Really, is that all you got me?” She insisted it was a good present, and my wise wife squeezed my arm, later instructing me that it’s never a good idea to shame a child. Fortunately, my daughter didn’t seem too bruised by my honesty and every year since she has given me wonderful gifts, like a beautiful scrapbook she made, filled with pictures of her and me through all the years of her life. Each year, though, she does seek some reassurance by asking me with a smile, “It’s better than the guitar, right, Dad?” Luckily, I can always give her an honest “Yes.” Perhaps, my earlier bluntness is what inspired her to become such a good gift giver. So, given that she doesn’t seem too worse for the wear, I can take my own reassurance that sometimes bad dad moments do yield good results.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!
Two girls with paternal and maternal grandfather.

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