A Perfect Father’s Day

Father's DayFather’s Day. 8:30 in the morning. I was back from walking the dog. Six weeks to go until the Pennine Way and the wretched training schedule had demanded ten miles. Ten foggy miles…

Never mind. My loving family would be in the hall to meet me. Jane with a cup of tea and a slice of toast, two of my three lovely children with beaming smiles and ‘Best-Dad-Ever presents.’ And somehow Tom would have arranged a special delivery from Cambridge, cajoling Yodel to deliver a case of amusing Shiraz on a Sunday morning.

No.

They were all still asleep.

I scanned the hall.

And nothing from Tom.

Ah well. I hadn’t been expecting much… Ben’s been busy with his AS levels. Jessica only got back yesterday. And Tom… let’s just say my eldest son is always a challenge. My wife will no doubt have trodden the same path I did in March.

Tom, don’t forget it’s Mother’s Day on March 6th. Get something in the post to your Mum.

Tom, this is text #4,904. Or it feels like it. Mother’s Day. Sunday. Post. Now

I finally got the message through – but it was a damn close run thing.

Father’s Day has always clashed with the end of exams. For some years now parties have taken precedence…

But not even a card from Tom. Where was my annual reminder of senility and impending incontinence?

I had a shower. Started work on the blog. Finally there was movement upstairs. It was Ben. And bearing gifts. Bearing a lot of gifts…

“Happy Father’s Day, Dad.”

“Thanks, darling. What’s all this? Are these really from Mum?”

“No. She said I was old enough to sort it out myself. So I did.” I looked at the pile. His wife’s going to be a very lucky woman…

A flask. A mug to keep my coffee warm. An OS map. Clearly the Pennine Way loomed large in my son’s mind as well. “And one more, Dad.”

It was a pen. You want to make a writer happy? Give him a pen or a notebook every time. ‘My luxury? Unlimited notebooks and pens, Kirsty. Nice pens, though. Like my son gave me on Father’s Day.’

Then Jessica summoned me to her room.

“There’s a present there for you,” she said. “And a card.” Understated as ever. Another pen. A Scheaffer and a Parker in one day. My inkwell ranneth over. “And I sent you an e-mail.”

“An e-mail? What about?  I’m here next to you. You can tell me.”

“No, I sent you an e-mail. Go and read it.”

There it was. No. 3,153. Memo to self: find ‘delete’ button…

‘Happy Father’s Day,’ it said. Oh cripes. An e-card. How will I convince her I like it?

It wasn’t an e-card. It was a letter, from my daughter to her Dad. 1,137 words about our relationship. How I’d helped her: how I’d supported her. Was there a tear in my eye? No, there were floods of them. Dripping onto my keyboard.

Here’s an extract…

Looking back I know you were protective because of how much you cared, and I value that so much now. Things could have been handled differently but honestly I wouldn’t change a thing. For me, hating you for a couple of years has made it easier now to love you again, and to accept you for the loving, caring father that you are.

And then the phone rang. Tom. We chatted for ages. We even managed to talk about the Referendum without falling out.

“Happy Father’s Day, Dad,” he said.

“Thanks, son,” I replied.

Thank you, all three of you. For proving me so wrong…

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and “very, very funny” to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here

Comments

  1. How lovely this brought tears to my eyes. You must be very proud. One day I hope my kids will be as thoughtful as yours x

    • Thank you – and yes, I’m sure they will be. I have a sixth form student doing work experience with me through the summer. I mentioned J’s letter to her and she said, “I’ve already done that for my Mum.” So you may not have long to wait…

  2. That brought tears to my eyes. How lovely of all of them, but especially Jessica. It must be so nice to feel so appreciated! My eldest isn’t quite at the stage of hating me yet (I live in hope that he never will), but he seems to know exactly how to wind me up. I look forward to the days when he’s through it and we can all be happy that we’re back to normal!

    • Thanks, Sarah. I distinctly remember the moment I thought, “Blimey, we’re through it.” Sitting round the dinner table, it suddenly dawned on me that maybe the worst of the teenage years were behind us. Not that there won’t be a few more bumps in the road still to come…

  3. I think we must be of a similar age and life circumstances, as your post resonated very much with me. My son – who typically doesn’t partake in these kind of things – bought me a bottle of port (an essential accompaniment for when I’m cooking) and a signed Leonard Cohen book (he’d actually contacted the agent to arrange). My daughter sent me the most beautiful of cards that was a catalyst for a 10 minutes blubbering session. What lucky men we are.

    • Only 10 minutes? Call yourself a man who’s in touch with his feelings?
      Seriously, that Leonard Cohen book is special isn’t it? I hugely value time and effort in presents & my daughter’s letter was actually >1,000 words: must have taken her an age. I’m conscious that I’ll need to bring this blog to a close in October next year when Ben goes to uni – I don’t see how I can generate weekly content with no kids at home – and I’ve been searching for a way to finish. I think I’ll just publish my daughter’s letter in full though, to show that in the end every sacrifice you make is worth it. Thanks, Gary – enjoy your day

  4. Very, very sweet. Love it!

    My son is a 14 year old teenager and we’re going through a “my parents don’t know a thing” stage. I still have all his posters of how much I’m “the best mummy in the world” and sometimes it’s difficult to get a word out of him except if it’s about a Japanese character lol! However, I know he’s secretly proud of us as he told me that he and his friends regularly read my blog, strum my husbands’ many guitars when we’re not there, and some of his friends even follow me on Twitter!

    Praise indeed!

    • Know what you mean, Victoria. I remember driving daughter and friends to a hockey match when they were all about 14. Must have said something witty as one of daughter’s friends said, “You know what, Jess, your Dad is pretty cool.” Daughter immediately died of embarrassment & horror but I just wanted to bottle that moment…

Thanks for reading: feel free to comment...