This Father’s Day, Give Me Something I Really Want

I’m a dad. It’s the title I am most proud of. Being a dad is both an honor and a responsibility. I’ve often said that marriage gave my life meaning; fatherhood gave it purpose.

I’m not sure how I feel about Father’s Day, though. Father’s Day is a cool idea, but I think we’re doing it wrong.

It’s Father’s Day. It’s not my birthday. I don’t want a cake. No candles, please. I don’t want another shirt, or a tie, or a pair of socks.

If we are able to get together, it’s not because I think I deserve a party.

If you want to wrap a present because it’s important to you, make the present meaningful. Like an art project from school, or a handmade card, or a framed picture of you that I can hang in my office, or a memento of something special we did together. Maybe it’s a ticket stub, or photograph, or a drawing, or postcard, or a trinket.

I will love anything you give me. Really. But it’s the things money can’t buy that I will cherish.

So, please, don’t spend your money on me. Spend your time with me.

Kids have this amazing ability to create a birthday wish list that somehow makes its way into the hands of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, and really anyone willing to take it. I’d like to give my kids a wish list for a change.

Here’s what I really want (this year, next year, and forever):

  • I want to know that I’m doing a decent job as your dad. Just a little recognition and perhaps an admission that I’m not the worst dad in the world.
  • I want to know that I’m setting a good example for you. Maybe you could write a little story about something you learned from me that’s helped you in your life.
  • I want you to spend the day with me. Heck, the whole weekend if you can. I value every minute we have together, and I’d like as many as I can get with you.
  • I want a hug. And a kiss. And an “I love you, Dad.” I’d take a hundred of each. More is better.
  • I want to see you happy.
  • I want to know that I’ve done everything I can to give you the opportunity to chase your dreams, from sending you to the best school Mom and I can afford, to encouraging you to try new things, to cheering for you as you perform or compete in sports or dance or music.
  • I want to feel close to you. Like we share the same bond we had when you were six months old and you could only fall asleep if you were lying on my chest.
  • I want to know that you feel my love. I love you more than anything in the world, and want to be sure you believe it.
  • I want to know that you see me for what I am. That you take the best of me and emulate it, and the worst of me and eschew it. Learn from my life. Sometimes you should do what I do, and sometimes you should do the opposite. I hope you develop the wisdom to know when.
  • I want “I love you,” more than I want “Thank you.”
  • I want the sound of a baseball game in the background, the smell of the grill in the air, and the warmth of being surrounded by family for the day. And, I want it to last forever.
  • I want to play catch with you.
  • I want to play a board game or cards with you.
  • I want to tell stories from our past and laugh about them.
  • I want to talk about your life and how I can help you the most.
  • I want to talk about your future and what you’re most excited about.
  • But above all else, I just want to spend time with you.

Yes, it’s a long list. But it would mean everything to me.

What’s on your list?

What do you want from your kids?

What are you giving your dad?

What do you wish you would have given him?