I’ve been getting many Father’s Day reminders this year – from DIY stores, BBQ sellers, car repair shops, even from flower shops. I’m beginning to think that the Western Dad is feeling neglected, maybe even unimportant. So let me just take a minute and wish all you a happy and satisfying Father’s Day!
Well, almost every dad should have a good day today. I’m gonna exclude dead-beats, wife-beaters and kid-touchers. There are special places in hell for them, if you believe in hell. To be able to create families and offspring, only to slowly destroy them later with neglect, violence or abuse – that’s a whole other level of crime.
And since I’m trimming down the list of ‘winners’, let’s exclude bigots and hate-mongers. Those who teach intolerance, pass ignorance down to next generation, while some countries see that as ‘freedom’, I think it’s despicable. When your kid grows up to hate other ‘types’ of kids or people, because of your teachings and, yes, preachings – that’s not right. That’s recklessly passing the buck.
Then there are just bad role models. They may take care of their family, and selected offspring, but at great cost to their neighbors, coworkers, friends, countrymen. You all know this group of ‘dads’ – entitled, (super)rich, powerful, and ultimately, greedy. Greedy with money, access, emotions. I don’t know of a lot of powerful/wealthy families whose next generation is not just a litter of assholes. Not just any assholes, but privileged, above-the-law creatures that contribute nothing, and consume everything in their path, in the name of the ‘family’. No, I don’t wish them a happy father’s day – although I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing a lot of these ‘families’ today, out in public, putting on a display of their love – exclusively towards each other – through expensive meals and gifts – as they likely meet for the first time since the holidays.
No cake for you, fellas.
Instead, I’m wishing a happy, satisfying day to A Dad That Strives. Succeeds more often than not, but constantly strives. To provide for everyone, to find time for everyone, to fix every bloody thing that happens to break at most inappropriate moment – and genuinely tries to be the foundation for his family. Heck, not just family – he’ll help push the neighbor’s car out of snowbank without hesitation. He’s the Dad who literally (and patiently) taught you how to ride a bike, instead of just buying you one; he took your first swim with you, instead of just throwing you into the pool water; he’s the man who showed you how to play guitar (in my case – piano), even though you hated every minute of it, until you realized what music is capable of. He’s the buddy that will hear your problems, and not just burp into his beer mug in a middle of a loud bar, while you snivel and share something that’s tearing your life apart. He’s the guy who teaches you never to fight, but then under breath tells you to kick bullies in the balls, despite what the teachers say. He gets it. He’s seen the world, and knows it’s cruel. He knows where bullies come from, and how to deal with them. Their dads failed, hence the inevitable – and necessary – kick in the balls. He strives to understand and get along with the World and he tries to present it to you differently when you’re 3, and again a little differently when you’re 12.
And then in a blink of an eye you’re 18, and he presents you yet another version of the world, and again when you’re 25, and again… And his lessons change – because your worldview changes. The world stays the same, but Dad’s lessons change. He gives you your first Beatles tapes or vinyl records (in my case – reel-to-reels), before your first ever English lessons, and lets you get lost in that universe of sound. Not only that, he lets you figure out the many ways to break a reel-to-reel cassette player. When in exchange, years later, you try to “open” him up to the music that moves you, say Metallica or Nirvana – it’s a massive misfire – but still he strives to understand. But he still calls you every time Paul McCartney is on TV, and tells you what channel he’s on.
Dad takes you to see movies that are probably over your head, only to explain later, on the way home, why some things are amplified for comic/dramatic/surprising/chilling effect. Why movies are often only entertainment, and not something to emulate or repeat. Why they inspire to Do Good, even though they sometimes play out Bad Things or portray Bad People.
Or, he mutters something critical about Our Dearest Leader during breakfast one day, and as you try to comprehend this act of treason, he explains that sometimes, criticism is the best sign of loyalty, and no man of great power, is accountable merely to his surroundings. A whole country, a nation can depend on Leader’s decision, and if it’s a Wrong Decision – it’s okay to say so. It’s necessary to say so. And while schools teach you to respect authority, Dad will be there to occasionally encourage you to question it. Because he did before…
He’s the guy who often tells you Wrong from Right. And in today’s world of ever-changing priorities and short-term goals – how do YOU know what is Right? Let alone your dad, or schools, or newspapers… Dad is the man who one day says ‘fuck this shitty country, we deserve better’, picks up his family, sells most belongings and emigrates to a Better Place. Or at least a place with an Opportunity to be better off. A place where he must build from scratch – a home, a circle of friends, a career, and still strive to be the foundation and support of his family.
Dad is the one person who can help you fix your car/bike/tricycle at any time – and the least you can do in return is years later, explain the difference between Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers to him … second time in a week. He strives. He grows fruit trees – not because he wants to save money on groceries, but because he wants to leave something behind, besides some papers in the bank.
So as long as he strives – to be the foundation, the support, the guidance – even long after you and your siblings have moved out and moved on, he’s Your Dad. He succeeded at raising a few people who are not going to abuse or neglect, who are not going to be afraid of new things and different people; who are not going to close eyes to injustice, while somehow managing to respect authority. And for all that (and much more) Your Dad should have a happy, calm, satisfying Father’s Day.
Happy Father’s Day to those who strive to be A Better Man. I hope your dad is That Dad. And if you got balls, I do hope you one day become That Dad. ‘Cause I’m sure striving to be one…