Father’s Day?

DSC01812I recently attended a Father’s Day event at my kids’ school. It was horrific.

A few weeks earlier there was a Mother’s Day event which consisted of a catered brunch, the presentation of crafts made by kids for their moms, and a touching video honoring mothers around the world. Perfect.

The majority female administration, faculty and staff at our children’s private school, though, couldn’t leave dads twisting in the wind, and a handcrafted collage just wouldn’t do – aren’t dads the conventional under-recognized tripartite of the family unit?

Someone – undoubtedly a woman – came up with the brilliant idea of inviting all the fathers with their children for some bonding, exercise, and games on a Thursday afternoon outside in the blistering June heat in Chihuahua. Text messages erupted in protest, but we went anyway; after all, it was to honor us (and guilt is a powerful motivator). So after work, middle aged men in suits went through eight circuits with their kids, alternating between dancing, sack-racing, aerobics, obstacle courses, water-balloon tosses and all manner of other clichéd “fun” activities for families.

And it was great fun. For the kids. Kids don’t mind high-desert dirt sticking to their perspiration-drenched bodies as they run and squeal and play with their friends. Dehydration can be a hoot. But this wasn’t Children’s Day. (Every day is Children’s Day, plus they get an extra one thrown in, not even counting Student’s Day.) This was Father’s Day, and the attending fathers (I wouldn’t claim to speak for them all), didn’t have such a great time (as their ruddy faces, glum expressions, and stained trousers seemed to hint).

Personally, I don’t think we deserve a special day – not even the most responsible, disciplined and attentive of us. All we did was ejaculate inside of a women and they took care of the rest, which is the hard part of making babies.

Someone had a brilliant idea that it would be great fun for fathers to bond with their kids in a team building exercise for Father’s Day sponsored by the school. But if you’re a dad and you’re not doing that on a regular basis with your children by taking them to parks, to museums, to family events, or even just playing board games with them, then you’re a fuck-up of a personal father failure, and a once-a-year hopelessly-contrived school day with your kids is at best a token acknowledgment of your paternity and responsibility as a person.

I’m not saying we don’t deserve some recognition, but it should be proportional, and usually it is. A personalized coffee mug, a six-pack of artisanal beer, an afternoon left unmolested to nap in front of the TV. That doesn’t seem to be asking for much. And that’s all we want.

So take it easy. Speaking for myself, I don’t want equal recognition, and I don’t think I deserve it at any rate. But even if I did, I would be happy with a brunch (I might insist on just one mimosa), and that would be it. Anything more would be gratuitous politically correct pandering.

And I almost forgot.  When we got home my daughter cried because we left about five minutes before every last balloon was popped in the grand finale of balloon-popping as the sun was setting and the commute traffic was heating up. The kids were so exhausted they slept in my bed. I slept on the couch.

Happy Father’s Day.

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Glen Olives Thompson is a Professor of North American Law at La Salle University in Chihuahua, Mexico. He is a graduate of Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, Chico. He writes on a broad range of topics for newspapers and magazines as well as publishing academic research in journals within the areas of law and public policy.