Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World's Best Dad?

Father's Day was a treat this year, as always. With the help of my lovely wife, Q and The Boy conspired to make a special breakfast for me that included sneaking out for coffee from a local shop where I go to treat myself. ("We're going to get the MAIL now, dad," Q announced in a particular vigorous attempt at misdirection, as they left early that morning.) My lovely wife made cinnamon rolls from scratch, and I made four or five or more of them quickly disappear — a luxury of these special days is not having to keep count. The kids presented me with lovely drawings, nicely framed, telling me what they appreciated about me, and my lovely wife gave me some nice shirts. I am well loved and loved well, is what I'm saying.

The Boy's tennis lessons have ended for the time being, so after the morning's surprises he and I went out to the park to hit baseballs while Q went to yoga. Then we all went to Yankee Stadium for the afternoon's game. Though it happened on Father's Day, the game was really for The Boy's birthday. It was his very first major league game, and what a game it was — punishing heat, a grand slam, a rain delay, a brief appearance on the jumbotron, a Yankees win. He loved it all, especially the wildly overpriced fan/spritzer thing shaped like a baseball, and I enjoyed sharing it with him. Q made it until the fifth inning before the seats far too hot to sit in and the slow pace got to her, and she jumped at the chance to leave when my wife offered it to her. But though I gave him a similar offer, he wanted us to stay all the way through Sinatra's "New York, New York." On the subway home, we even saw a guy with a hook for a hand, which somehow completed the day for me.

A few weeks ago I was paging through one of the thousands of catalogs we get from a place called Oriental Trading,* an outlet that specializes in bulk orders of craft and party supplies. If your kids have left a birthday party recently with a goody bag, I bet that at least some of the disposable dreck** dumped out on the couch has come from Oriental Trading.

Anyway, times being what they were, I saw lots of opportunities to pick up some chintzy stuff of the No. 1/World's Best Dad variety. Q was sitting beside me, so I casually asked her if she was going to get me a "World's Best Dad" mug (or whatever) for this Father's Day. No, she said. Didn't she think that I was the World's Best Dad, I asked? Nope.

Okay, but here's the interesting part: She's right. I asked her why she thought as she did, and she said that she really didn't know all the dads in the world, but even so I probably wasn't the best one. And, you know, I can't argue with that logic. Come to think of it, there are and have been quite a few dads,*** and, though I think I'm a decent one, odds are that at least someone is better at the parenting thing than I am.

It's an odd claim to stake anyway. I'm not sure what makes a best parent, though I have some idea of what makes for better and worse ones, and I'm not sure that if I did know, I'd want to be one. Why would I want to deny my kids the chance to improve on what I did and could do for them? (Or would the World's Best Dad realize this and make noticeable, lesson-worthy mistakes?)

In any event, I love being a father, and I love thinking about being a father. And if I've learned one thing this Father's Day, it's don't ever ask your kids how you're doing.

Happy Father's Day, all.

*I would very much like someone to explain the existence and history of this place to me. Not only is the company named "Oriental" Trading—an adjective that has long since stopped being acceptable geographically or racial-sensitivity-wise—it's located in Omaha, NE. I've been to the, um, Orient, and I've been to Nebraska, and one does not make a person think of the other. Also, Oriental Trading offers quite a bit of Christian-themed merchandise (e.g.), which doesn't really honor the majority traditions of most Far Eastern societies. All this adds up to one big ball of why.
**I'm looking at you, balloon-powered race cars.
***Abraham, e.g., or the Big Man Himself (if you're into that sort of thing)? Tough competition, admittedly.

1 comment:

teahouse said...

Yes, the word "oriental" is kind of a throwback to the olden days. But it seems to evoke something nostalgic and a sort of mystique. It's like that fancy hotel, the Mandarin Oriental.

Happy Father's Day!