Father’s Day

Yesterday was Fathers’ Day. Oh, I admit that for most people this ‘Hallmark Holiday’ was celebrated on Sunday, but I have always felt that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.

Saturday evening, Kathy asked me, “What do you want for Fathers’ Day?” It reminded me of a scene in the movie Joe Somebody in which the main character (who has just suffered a humiliating physical encounter at his workplace) is asked, “What do you want?” This question serves as a catalyst that ultimately transforms the character; for most of us, it is a question that bears careful consideration. What do I want?

As it turns out, I want a lot of things. I would like for Jesus to return immediately and for His kingdom to be established in the New Jerusalem. I’d like there to be justice and peace and mercy and prosperity and joy. But in the context of Fathers’ Day, what did I actually want?

My initial reaction was to be self-indulgent … after all, it is a formula that I have followed faithfully for much of my life. What father wouldn’t like a day of relaxation … iced lemonade in a hammock, reading a good book, being waited on hand and foot with tasty morsels? I could maybe play a computer game or watch a movie … perhaps even take a nap?

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Taking a nap on this swing wasn’t an option — it always seems to be full of kids.

“Wait a minute!” I said to myself. “You could do all those things if you were single!” Fathers’ Day ought to be a celebration of being a father; it ought to reflect and feature those who call me ‘Daddy’, ‘Big Papa’ or ‘Dad’. (Admittedly, they mostly call me ‘Big Papa’ when they are clumping around the house in my shoes, saying things like, “No, I’M the Big Papa!” in a deep comical voice.)

After we returned home from Sunday school and church, I laid down the law:

  • Since it was Fathers’ Day, I got to pick everything we did
  • no one else was allowed to even make suggestions*
  • anything we did had to be written down on a large posterboard and could be checked off by any of the kids

*This rule was broken quite a bit, especially by the younger ones.

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Wherever there is something thrilling and a little dangerous, there is Daniel.

It was a glorious sunny day, temperatures in the upper 70s, with blue skies and a light summer breeze. Our list looked something like this:

  • Go to Sunday School
  • Go to Worship Service
  • Eat lunch
  • Thank God for Fathers’ Day
  • Read a chapter of The Magician’s Nephew (C.S. Lewis)
  • Play zookeeper
  • Read a chapter of Don’t Care High (Gordon Korman)
  • Sit on our new patio swing with my Sweetie
  • Make and consume a Strawberry-Lemonade-Mandarin slushy blend
  • Go to Lowe’s for sprinkler parts and assorted other items
  • Fix the sprinklers and play in them
  • Eat a delicious supper (steak, hamburgers and shrimp)
  • Read a chapter of a Sugar Creek Gang book (Jim Hutchens)
  • Go to Samuel’s birthday party

By the end of the day, all those things had been checked off in various shades of permanent marker.

On Monday I was off and when I woke up, I thought to myself: “Yesterday was really fun, but it was a little short. Why not do it all again?”

Nobody seemed to have a good answer to that, except Kathy, who thought the kids ought really to do some school. I managed to persuade her by offering her the opportunity to go off for a few hours to Home Depot and Barnes and Noble by herself on a decorating fact-finding trip.

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Sometimes David announces, out of the blue, “Mom, I just need a blend.

It was another even more glorious day, with temperatures in the mid-80′s and skies even bluer than the day before … a day made for water games and contemplating the goodness of God. So we started the second half of our list:

  • Read Magician’s Nephew
  • Sit on the patio swing and read my own book
  • Set up the video capture software/hardware to convert Joshua’s play to DVD
  • Play a computer game (this solitary pursuit was sharply criticized by David)
  • Eat lunch (graciously provided by Kathy before she slipped off on her mission)
  • Have a water balloon fight (or two)
  • Set up the Slip ‘N Slide (water slide) and play on it
  • Read Sugar Creek Gang
  • Read Don’t Care High
  • Break down and recycle boxes in the garage
  • Do a little yard work
  • Play zookeeper
  • Eat supper
  • Watch a Little House on the Prairie episode
  • Eat ice cream
  • Go to bed

We finished the Magician’s Nephew (I managed not to tear up over Digory’s concern for his dying mother) and I spent a long time watching the kids play on the Slip ‘N Slide and reading my book, with Sarah just sitting companionably beside me. The little ones skipped their nap both days; Sarah is still young enough to need some down-time. She lay across the swing cushions with her feet on my lap … whenever I would look up from my book, she would tell me, “Read, Daddy!” I’m not sure if she thought I would send her to bed if I stopped reading, or if she was also just enjoying our companionable swinging, but I was more than happy to oblige. I took a few moments to reflect on the grace and love of God, such that I, who have so many faults, have been privileged to be Father to five delightful children.

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I actually got the water balloon fight on film, but no still-shot pictures except this aftermath.

At supper time I was again exclaiming over the glorious sunshine and blue skies, and said (as I do at least three or four times every summer): “Kids, take note of this day. You will probably only have a hundred days like this in your entire life … cherish it well.” They all nodded appreciatively until Kathy said, “Wait a minute! You’ve already had a lot more than a hundred of these days!”

I felt rather sheepish … it is true. I think I’ve had more than my fair share, and I hope I haven’t taken any away from someone else. I mumbled something about how many of them are seen only through an office or school window, and that actually getting out IN the day was what was so rare, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Truth is, I’ve had several hundred days like yesterday which remind me of the famous Calvin and Hobbes comic strip:

Calvin: My elbows are grass-stained, I’ve got sticks in my hair, I’m covered with bug bites and cuts and scratches…I’ve got sand in my socks leaves in my shirt, my hads are sticky with sap, and my shoes are soaked! I’m hot dirty, sweaty, itchy and tired.
Hobbes: I say consider this day seized!
Calvin: Tomorrow we’ll seize the day and throttle it!

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