This is always a busy week with Cherub’s birthday, as well as Father’s Day. I bet you can guess where my attention is usually spent, the same place my money is usually spent – on a birthday party for, by all accounts and purposes, the cherub. God knows, he loved the clown at his first birthday party so much that tears came to his eyes, screams came to his lungs and claws were produced on his hands. Then we upgraded to the pinata and the bounce house. That kept the cherub and his angelic friends busy and eventually tired. Finally, we did road trips so the boys could ditch us at the amusement park and we could spend the day waiting to be paged to the security holding tank.
When we came to our senses, we downsized to going out for a nice dinner and having a few friends and family over. I was at an awkward age, you know, that age when all you want to do is grab your baby by the ear and drag him into his time out chair, but you don’t because if your lessons haven’t stuck yet, you’ve failed. So you teeter, you hold your breath, you hope the cherub will make you proud. Besides, with all those karate lessons he took while you sat in the plastic chairs in the spectator area eating peanut M&M’s, you don’t have a chance of actually following through on your plan.
And now, 20 years later, cherub basically threw his own party, and I had time to think about Father’s Day. I admit, Father’s Day has been an after thought, a gift slid to my dad while cherub opened his bounty. A whispered “thanks Dad” after belting out “Happy Birthday.”
But not this year. This year, I called a week in advance to invite Dad out for lunch. I bought a gift and looked forward to an afternoon spent with my dad.
And what an afternoon it was. Dad told me the story of living next to a river that routinely flooded, crossing a flooded bridge to take his sick sister to the doctor and moving all the furniture and belongings to the second floor when the house flooded. “The water didn’t stay long enough to do real damage. Just left behind silt.”
And this reminds me that my dad is a fascinating person with a fascinating past. Stories of German prisoners of war and gypsies and farm living.
But I have been part of his past too.
My first memory of my dad is his getting home from work and wrestling with me until we were called for dinner by my mom. He called my “Peanut” and though I now know my game of jumping on his back so he could flip me onto the floor in front of him must have grown old about the third or fourth time, he did it over and over and over and over.
My other memory is of our gardens. Eating radishes and carrots from the garden after washing them with the hose. I still love radishes all these years later.
And to pay homage to my father, here is the bounty from my own small garden. Not a garden that would sustain a family like my dad grew, but my small attempt.
I have so many memories of my dad, and now that I have a grown cherub who has begun to need me less and ignore me more, I will add to these memories one of a patient father, a father who took left over attention on Father’s Day and never once complained or pointed out that I should be doing more for him on his day.
This week I will do my best to model my parenting skills after the best of those of my father.