If you’re a father, then you know what tomorrow is. Yes, it’s Father’s Day, and you’re in for a new polyester tie, a homemade arts-and-crafts pencil holder, or some pungent, drug-store-brand shaving lotion. And you’re going to try to love it, aren’t you? Yes, you’ll try, but Father’s Day is an emotional landmine, a day that tries to get up close and sentimental with men — the angrier and fuzzier of the species — who would rather clean out a septic tank than endure a round of adoration and presents. And make no mistake; we men are emotional Neanderthals. Unlike Mom – who relishes the attention she receives on her special day — we men just pray for a funny card, minimal mush, and a return-receipt for the loud purple tie that we know is in that thin box. Mothers can handle high emotions. Fathers pretend, but we aren’t fooling anyone. We’re uncomfortable on Father’s Day, and our kids know it.
Why are men so emotionally inept? Who knows? Maybe, our genes are wired to discharge painful chemicals into our arteries if we show the tiniest bit of sentimentality. Maybe it’s the way we survived, back when we lived in cold swamps, damp caves, or stinky college dorm rooms. I just wish we could embrace Father’s Day for what it is. Father’s Day is a day of great rejoicing with our children and a day of thanks. It’s a day of strong lilac scents, strange synthetic neckwear, and misshapen clay objects — all purchased or made by little hands that will soon enough own the future. But, we don’t embrace the day, do we? How do we return love on Father’s Day? "My, that’s some fine handiwork, daughter! Look at the perfect symmetry on that clay pottery! What tools did you use to make that curved lip?" We deflect the emotional charge, and retreat to our forte: finding a problem to solve, a skill to share, a lesson to teach. We turn Father’s Day into a parade of the young, loyal troops, as we admire our kids, coolly and clinically. Enough! This Father’s Day, handcraft a special present for your children. Look into their bright eyes, and say, "Do you know how much I love you? Do you know that you are my joy on Father’s Day?" Do it. It won’t kill you — those old survival genes can be dormant tomorrow, and you’ll still be a real man. Embrace your fine, special day, while your hands can still touch the warmth of true love.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.