Seems like fathers get the short end of the celebratory stick these days. Think about Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is big. The stores stock Mother’s Day cards starting right after Easter. For weeks leading up to that special day, the ads in magazines, television, and radio hawk the old reliable women’s stuff like perfumes, flowers, loads of jewelry, and trips to exotic spa destinations. The kids spend half of the morning making a mess of the kitchen making breakfast for Mom. They make cute hand-made signs for her with hearts, and flowers and butterflies. Dad takes Mom out for dinner, she gets presents galore. In other words, Mom gets the works. That’s all very nice for Mom, but what about Dad?
What does dear old Dad get for Father’s Day? In the old days, the joke was that you could always get dad another necktie (yuk, yuk!) Big joke. Most of today’s fathers don’t even know what a necktie is, let alone own one. Pajamas were once a viable gift, but how many dads actually wear pajamas to bed these days? Aftershave lotions used to be a pretty reliable gift for Dad, but I don’t think they make too many of them anymore. Now they make expensive colognes for men (men’s versions of women’s perfumes, really) that may be a tad too expensive for kids to buy for Dad. Kids used to make their Dad an ashtray. What’s an ashtray? Card companies still make Fathers Day cards. Dad should consider himself lucky if the kids get him one.
And do the kids slave all morning making breakfast for dad like they did for Mom? Nah, I don’t think so. Maybe the kids saved their little pennies all year to take dad out for breakfast? Ha! They might put the cereal box, spoon, and milk on the table for him. Maybe. Do the kids help Dad with stuff around the house at least? Do they wash Dad’s car? Mow the lawn? Clean up the yard or the garage? Yeah, right. Don’t hold your breath. In the old days kids might bring Dad his pipe and slippers. Fathers today don’t smoke pipes and probably don’t even wear slippers.
Are you getting the picture yet? The traditional things that mothers would get (flowers, jewelry, candy, perfume) they still get. Nothing has changed there. But the traditional stuff that fathers used to get is completely passed. All the customary reliable men’s gifts (cigars, pipes, lighters, ashtrays, electric razors, neckties, pajamas, bedroom slippers, etc.) are politically incorrect, outmoded or just not used anymore.
It’s easier to buy for mom. Jewelry, perfume, flowers, and candy are still very much in fashion for women. And mothers still enjoy being served, waited on and pampered. Maybe it’s just easier to do things for Mom than it is for Dad. Let’s face it, when it comes to equal presents for equal parenting, there is no level playing field for poor old Pop.
Whenever he was asked what he wanted, my father would say something like, “I just want you to be a good boy.” To the same question my wife’s father would say, “Just a kind word.” I don’t think fathers ever expected much in the way of big presents, then or now. Fathers aren’t doted on the same way mothers are, and maybe that’s the way things have always been and will always be. Dads are different than moms, no matter what college feminist classes may teach. Dads simply don’t need very much. “Just be a good boy.” “All I want is a kind word.”
But wouldn’t it be nice if Dad got a little something extra this year? I know he’ll say he doesn’t need it, or you shouldn’t have done it, but go ahead, do it anyway. Take Dad out for a really good steak dinner or to a ball game. Have his car detailed. And yes, buy him a pair of really good bedroom slippers. Who knows, he might get to like them.
And with all of that, don’t forget the kind word.
Happy Fathers Day!