You may not believe this, but Father’s Day is not Valentine’s Day. The difference is that on the latter occasion (meant for lovers), everybody and his grandfather wishes everybody and her uncle a Happy Valentine’s Day. It is different with Father’s Day. I mean, random strangers don’t pop up to wish you Happy Father’s Day, especially if you are a woman.
Everybody wants to be a valentine, but no one wants to be mistaken for someone else’s father.
This year, it falls on the longest day of the year, which means it is wrapped up in all kinds of symbolism. I remember when our son was born, my wife looked after him during the day, and at night I slept. This was a happy arrangement and no one complained except my son but we ignored him. Our parenting technique was borrowed from the classical farmer – we watered him occasionally, put in some seeds and watched him grow. And soon we were celebrating Father’s Day like it really meant something.
The first gift I received from my son was a drawing of a building with a chair rising behind it and a tiger in front (all children are surrealists) with the message: To the Beast Father in the World. To this day I don’t know if that was a mistake or a deliberate mis-spelling for all the time I didn’t spend with him. Later, as he grew older and gained more understanding, he gave me a poster that read: “On his deathbed no one said ‘I should have spent more time in the office’.”
After some years of this, I finally got the hint and decided to work from home. I would spend hours with my son, we would bond, he would teach me how to fish and to drive. And I would teach him how to spend a day lazing on the sofa.
At least that was the plan. But unfortunately, it was roughly around this time that he decided to leave home for university abroad. We were always emotionally connected, now we became electronically connected. This year we didn’t meet at all because we are not allowed to hug.
Some day I hope his son gives him a mug that says the world’s best father, all spellings and emotions in the right place.
On Father’s Day, I do a Janus act, looking back and forward at the same time. Look back far enough, and I can see myself asking my father, “Why?” Just that. I used it often – just like my son used it to great effect when speaking to me years later.
I realise fatherhood is hereditary. If your father didn’t have children, you won’t have any either.