Thursday, June 13, 2013

Father’s Day Gifts for the Modern At-Home Dad

Father's Day is Sunday and, speaking on behalf of my fellow sperm donors, it’s time you stopped shortchanging us on the gifts.

greatest dad hatWe deserve better because studies on modern parenting, such as the recent Pew Research Center report on “breadwinning moms,” show a growing conspiracy against dads’ well-being. Moms “leaning in” to advance their careers and decades of badgering dads to be more involved parents have heaped unprecedented amounts of housework and child-rearing duties on fathers everywhere.

No longer can we come home from a hard day’s corporate dronery and Ward-Cleaver-it in our cardigan and easy chair, answering Junior’s inquiries about life with clichés or a deft “go ask your mother.” Now we cook meals, participate in PTAs and iron sharp creases into our wives’ business suits to help them shatter glass ceilings. Fatherhood has evolved into a high-stress, guilt-ridden occupation with longer hours and less pay.

Holy Betty Friedan! We dads have become our mothers!

Such societal and cultural shifts also make it more difficult to show dads proper appreciation on their annual day. Many traditional gifts are now politically incorrect. Golf equipment, for example, endorses abandoning one’s family. Liquor conveys a poor message to our children, which is fine because the rugrats would probably buy us the cheap hooch anyway.

A tie? Forget that many workplaces have gone casual and consider this: For Mother's Day, would you buy your mom a Playtex 18-hour bra? Thought not.

Here’s a few suggestions from this at-home dad’s wish list. You’ll notice many benefit the whole family as well as dad, magnanimous fellow that he is:

An IT department. All this technology to make our lives easier has only increased my workload and agita. “Dad, the screen is blue!” “Dad, the Internet is down!” “Honey, what’s the parental control password again?” All those hours wasted removing malware and syncing iPlods could have gone toward my writing The Great American Novel. Well, maybe reading Philip Roth’s “The Great American Novel.”

Crewcuts. Not for me, but our family’s two long-haired lasses who regularly bring me to my knees … to snake their locks out of clogged shower drains.

A driver. Not the kind you tee up with, the kind who shuttles the kids to the 111 activities they’ve got in any given week. This chauffeur must know the quickest routes to school to deliver the things our rascals usually forgot such as a homework, musical instruments and clean underwear.

Improved supply management system. While I’m normally a thorough household shopper, at the worst times we unexpectedly run out of essentials like toilet paper and cocktail onions. Why? Failure to communicate. Though I’ve tried, I sadly can’t make up for it after-the-fact with multiple shouted expletives 

Landscaper/interior designer. Charming expert with flawless skills, credentials and references wanted for important task: Politely yet convincingly talking my wife out of whatever new headache, real and/or financial, she comes up with for unnecessarily improving our home. In essence, I need the Bizarro Vern Yip. And to cancel HGTV.

If these gifts don’t work for the dad in your life, remember this fatherly wisdom I’ve dispensed to my own children: Cash is always accepted.

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I’d be remiss not ending this cheeky piece without a couple of real Father’s Day acknowledgements.

First and foremost, to my own father who surely has his own list for me. Thanks for everything, Dad.

Second, to Marty Shapiro, who died Sunday at age 89. Marty acted as a surrogate father to My Love moved to town on her own decades ago. He will be missed by his family and ours. His June 11 obituary stated it best, “In lieu of flowers, hug someone close. Pop would approve.”


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