Tag Archives: Father’s Day

It’s Not the End of the World, Just the Galaxy

water_phoneMy wife got me the brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone for Father’s Day. I immediately fell deeply in love with it. Like, scarily obsessed. If we’re being totally honest, I sleep with it next to my pillow lest I get lonely at night, OK?? And of its plethora of wonderful features, the 13-megapixel camera is by far my favorite thing about Galaxia (yeah, I named my phone. So what? Wanna fight about it?), because it allows me to capture some truly beautiful moments such as my son’s preschool graduation, family members who are no longer with us, and even a shot of him catching his first fish.

In fact, fishing has become somewhat of an obsession for the boy. So despite being under the weather, I told Will I’d take him fishing again on Father’s Day.

The place we like to fish is difficult because it’s gated. That means we have to park and walk a half-mile each way to the lake, which is not an easy feat for a 5-year-old on a hot day. After lecturing Will about the importance of not forgetting anything because we wouldn’t be able to run back to the car for it, we make the trek from our car to “our spot” — and that’s when I realized I forgot the tackle box. That meant we had just one hook and one bobber. If the line was cut for any reason, we were all done for the day.

I baited the hook and Will cast out into the pond. Wouldn’t you know it, he gets a fish on the line almost immediately. I watched and smiled a fatherly smile as he struggled with the “huge Great White shark” that was surely on the end of his line, as I like to let him do things himself. But then the fish started to take his line into the weeds and the overgrown brush on the side of the lake. Realizing we were in trouble, I grabbed the pole and tried to jerk it towards the middle but it was too late. The line was stuck.

But the fish was still hooked and it was flopping around.

“DADA, DADA! WE CAN’T LOSE THE SHARK FISH, GET IT QUICK. PLEEEEEEAAAAASE!!”

He didn’t have to ask. I was already pumped up and feeling oh-so-manly on a Father’s Day father-son fishing trip with the boy. That fish was ours and there was no way I was letting it get away. The only problem is the steep dropoff this kettle lake had, which meant I had to wade in chest deep just to go around the brush and get to the fish. But I did it, and after a few minutes I had secured the fish and untangled the line. Success!

Or so I thought.

It was then that Will asked me to take a picture of his fish and put it on Facebook so mom could see it. And that’s when — sopping wet — I reached in my left pocket to get…MY PHONE!!

First I felt a wave of terror that coursed through my body and zapped me right in the pit of the stomach. My fingertips worked their way past the entrance to my doused khaki shorts and touched Galaxia. Almost too afraid to look, I grabbed her and held her up to the sunlight for an inspection — but it was more like a postmortem. Galaxia, who was only with me for a few shorts weeks, was gone. Drowned at such a young age.

I’d like to say my behavior over the next few moments was something befitting a 33-year-old adult and father. But that would be a lie. I sank to my knees and yelled “NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” like an absolute lunatic. But then my next thought sent me back into a panic, because I thought of MJ and what she was going to do to me for losing a brand new phone she had saved up hundreds of dollars for to get me as a gift. Especially since this is not the first time I’ve lost an important and costly object to the gods of the Lake.

But as I was pathetically sitting there on my knees bemoaning my technological loss, Will brought me back down to Earth.

“Dada, I’m sorry about your phone but guess what? You saved my fish and we can still go fishing together, and that’s all that matters!”

I’m not exaggerating either, that’s actually how he talks. And you know what, he speaks the truth. Yes I am an idiot for not emptying my pockets and ruining a really expensive piece of technology. But you know what? I did it because I didn’t think twice about jumping into a lake to make sure my son was happy. The phone was ruined, but the experience wasn’t. And if that’s not the epitome of what Father’s Day is supposed to be about, then I don’t know what is.

Thankfully MJ agreed, and also had the presence of mind to buy insurance on the phone because she knows me so well. Thanks to Will, this might be the only time I’ve pissed away hundreds of dollars and walked away smiling.

And for the record, the fish was totally as big as a Great White.

 

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Sealin’ the Deal at the Aquarium

The New England Aquarium is awesome. Seriously. It’s mind-blowingly entertaining for both kids and adults. Why, you ask? Let me show you:

But the absolute best thing they have are the Norther Fur Seals. The one in this video is Cordova. And she is one loud ass seal. I thought this was a human being yelling, so imagine my shock when I figured out it was Cordova making all the racket.

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Dads Are Always There When You Need Them

It’s a little belated, but here’s my Father’s Day post which first ran at the Good Men Project.

My 3-year-old son stands on our bed smiling nervously. Squeaking with excitement as he creeps closer and closer to the edge, he peers down at the ground and then at my outstretched arms. No doubt assessing the situation and calculating toddler physics in his head.

I’m daring him to jump to me. He’s not so sure.

For several minutes he looked like he had OCD. Back and forth. Confident then scared. He’d walk to the edge of the bed—in a hilarious looking half-crouch ready to pounce—and then lose his nerve and retreat in a fit of anxious giggles. I just watched with great amusement, held my arms out for him, and smiled. Then I simply uttered “I gotcha.”

Suddenly he left his fears on the bed and flew at me with reckless abandon. I caught him under his arms, held him up, and spun him around while laughing. But after exchanging a hearty high-five, the kid dropped a bombshell on me.

“You always catch me dad.”

I know he meant that I physically catch him every time he jumps off the bed. But to me, at this point in my life, it meant so much more. And it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Two weeks ago I left the comforts of journalism and took a new job. While the paycheck is better, the commute is not. It’s usually around two hours. Each way. Sometimes more. Gone is the flexible scheduling, getting Will dressed in the morning and dropping him off at preschool. No more making dinner together and taking the dog for a walk. With my commute, I’m gone before he’s awake and home an hour before he’s in bed.

I’m officially a part-time parent. And I’m having a hard time adjusting.

♦◊♦

My father is my hero. I’ve tried to be like him at every turn. Unfortunately he was seldom around when I was a kid. Although plenty smart enough, he missed the chance to go to college. But he lucked out and got an opportunity to help start a business from the ground up. It required long hours, and that was on top of being a town official.

He was at a selectman’s meeting when I hit my first out of the park home run. My mom was there (because she was SuperMom and there for everything), but the first Little League homer is a uniquely father-son moment.

I had to wait until after the game and we made our way over to Town Hall, where his meeting was in progress. When he noticed us he raised his eyebrows wondering why we were there. I held up the baseball the team had given me, swung an imaginary bat and made the home run signal. His eyes went wide and his face lit up as he smiled. I knew he was proud. But the next face he made had regret and disappointment written all over it. If he was a cartoon, the bubble above his head would’ve read “I can’t believe I missed it.”

Fast forward to the present.

I’ve been a parent for three years, but now everything is different. My wife is temporarily out of work and I’m the breadwinner now. For the first time our family’s survival depends on my paycheck, but my paycheck requires a hellish commute that has me spending more hours in the car on a daily basis than with my son. I’m going to miss things. Things like talking to the preschool teacher everyday and being the “go-to” parent. Little things, but those are always the most important.

When I talked about my feelings recently, my dad chimed in and said “This is the real test of parenting. It’s very tough, and the guilt can be awful. This is where you learn just how tough parenting really is, and just how valuable the years and the moments really are.”

My dad more than made up for the things he missed early on. He’s always been there no matter what. He’s still running a business and he’s still a town official. But whenever I needed something he always found a way. Without fail. He was always there to catch me. Still is.

Happy Father’s Day to all the catchers.

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Festering on Father’s Day

To be blunt, my Father’s Day sucked.

First of all I had to work. That right there takes a lot of the joy out of the day and eliminates a lot of options for celebrating. And I definitely didn’t want any presents. We’re broke and I don’t need anything. MJ got me my phone last month and that’s a big gift for Father’s Day, my birthday and Christmas combined. Besides, it has never been about the price tag on presents for me.

All I wanted was a card, a nice meal and maybe something thoughtful and homemade. But apparently that’s asking too much.

I received no card in the morning. Then I left for work, and got out just in time for gray skies and spitting rain. It also took me an extra 45 minutes to get home because traffic leaving the Cape was so shitty. When I got home from work, I noticed the house was really clean and I thanked MJ for her hard work. Then I proceeded to fold two loads of laundry. She told me she was cooking me dinner. Pasta with meat sauce. It’s one of my favorite meals, but honestly I offered to cook it myself because, well, I like my sauce better than hers. But she said it was Father’s Day and so I stepped aside.

Here is the series of events that followed:

My favorite kind of pasta is rigatoni. We were out of it. So I had a choice between tri-colored corkscrew pasta and spaghetti. I really don’t like spaghetti so I went with the lesser of two evils and told her anything but spaghetti. She inexplicably cooked the spaghetti.

She used sauce that had more of a hot, spicy taste. I abhor spicy food.

While cooking she broke a dish and cut her hand in several places. Which means I finished cooking the last of the meal while simultaneously cleaning up a plethora of broken glass and making sure my wife didn’t bleed to death.

When I do eat pasta I cover it with parmesan cheese. It is one of my favorite things on Earth. We were out of it.

One of my other favorite foods is garlic bread. MJ tried to make some homemade garlic bread but forgot it was in the oven and ended up burning it so badly I couldn’t eat it.

After the meal I got to do the dishes.

And let’s just say there was no dessert, if you catch my drift.

For Mother’s Day I made MJ breakfast in bed and brought her coffee in with a card from me and Will. Then I took Will out of the house and let her relax to do whatever she wanted for 3-4 hours.  I also made her dinner later that night. Nothing extraordinary by any means, but I wanted to acknowledge that it was a special day. Because she deserved it.

I know this post won’t be popular. After all we’re dads. Men. And men don’t complain like this about being shafted. We’re supposed to suck it up and move on and stop acting like babies. But fuck that. Is it really to much to ask that we get special treatment for one day?? And yes, I’m aware that there are extenuating circumstances here such as MJ being pregnant, her having to clean the whole house because of the current flea infestation courtesy of our three pets and she certainly didn’t mean to burn the garlic bread or cut herself by dropping a dish. I get it.

But would a a little effort have been too much to ask for? On Father’s Day I ended up with no card,  folding laundry, doing the dishes, eating food I don’t like and didn’t ask for, not eating food that I love because it wasn’t in the house and capping it all off sitting by my lonesome on the couch. Seriously, would a card have been too much to ask for? I would’ve settled for a homemade card with Will’s scribbles on it. And why ask me what pasta I want if you’re just going to forget my answer and cook the kind I don’t like? And then when things don’t go as well as planned I figured it’d all be made up after Will went to bed. Instead I sat on the couch alone and watched True Blood. Which, unfortunately, was by far the best part of Father’s Day.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Mother’s Day is THE parental holiday of choice. Father’s Day is more of an afterthought. And yesterday, so was I.

I guess all the stereotypes aren’t so off-base after all.

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Father’s Day: Celebrate the Misery

As I sit here alone on my couch mourning the loss of the Boston Celtics to the fucking hated Los Angeles Lakers, I am sad. Nay, I am downtrodden. I’m pissed off, I’m frustrated and I’m downright melancholy. So why is it, while I’m furiously stewing in my own misery, that I can’t help but think fondly of my father?

I know I’m part of a “new” crop of dads and we’re all about positivity and bucking stereotypes, but as Father’s Day approaches I personally find it fitting to focus on the misery my father and I share. Specifically where sports are concerned.

You all know I’m a sports nut. And most of you know I came to be that way mainly because of my father. Generations of my family have grown up living near Boston, and that means we all inherited the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. And when I say inherit, I mean it. You don’t choose who you root for, it just happens. Love for Boston sports is no more an option than your eye color and the inability to avoid the word “wicked.”

Now those of you only partially attuned to the sports universe probably think it’s great to be a Boston fan because recently the Patriots won three Super Bowls, the Red Sox claimed two World Series trophies and the Celtics won the NBA Finals in 2008. I won’t lie, it has been great. Otherworldly even. But prior to the Patriots first SB win during the 2001 season, this was not the case at all.

The Patriots were the laughingstock of the NFL for years. The Celtics were once great, but hadn’t won a title since 1986. And the Red Sox, well, the Red Sox were a fucking Greek tragedy. A lack of space prevents me from detailing the epic failures of the pre-2004 Boston Red Sox, but all you need to know is the Red Sox didn’t just lose games. They tore your heart out. They actually discovered new ways to lose which, if forced on terrorists, would be more effective than anything Jack Bauer could dream up.

During Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the Red Sox were two runs ahead of the Mets going into the bottom of the 10th inning. They retired the first two batters. That means they were one out — just one out — away from winning. But the Mets got a hit. And then another. And then another. And the tying run scored on a wild pitch of all things. During that stretch, the Red Sox were one strike away from winning the series a half dozen times. I kid you not. But the game was still tied and the Sox still had life. Mookie Wilson hit about as routine of a ground ball as you get toward the first baseman, Bill Buckner, who then let the ball roll through his legs to lose the game. It was a notorious moment, and one that still brings a grimace (and possibly a punch to the face) from Red Sox fans when you bring it up.

And the black cloud hanging over everything was that they hadn’t won a World Series since 1918. That’s 86 years.

That may have been the pinnacle of disappointment for Boston fans, but it is one instance in a long line of examples that bonded us together. Because it used to take a special kind of person to be a Boston sports fan. To come so close, so many times, and always come up short? It created a brotherhood of tortured souls. A bevy of pessimists who knew disappointment was bearing down on them like a freight train, yet always stood directly on the tracks with the misguided hope that maybe it would stop this time. And no matter how bad it got, or how horribly they toyed with us, we always came back to them with renewed hope and optimism. Year after year, season after season.

The men in my family care about sports. Probably a little too much. But the point is, we really do care. We’re passionate to a fault. We don’t watch big games so much as live out every single moment. When Pedro pitched for the Red Sox we’d line up shoes in front of the TV for every strikeout. When they played the Yankees we’d put a Yankees mug in the toilet for the duration of the game. We pass around lucky bats and balls. We wear specific shirts for good luck and we’re not against watching games from outside the house if we think it’s lucky. We once locked my mom out of the house during the 2004 ALCS against the Angels because Vlad Guerrero hit a grand slam as soon as she came inside.

Some people think I’m totally fucked because of this. To devote this much time and attach this much meaning to a game. But you know what? I like the way I am. And I like the way my dad is. He’s 54 years old but when he’s watching a big game he’s like a teenager. He’s pacing, yelling, screaming and cheering because he’s devoted. Loyal. You root for one team and you stick with them, even when they suck. Yes you’re allowed to mock them and say awful things about them, but that’s OK because you’re stuck with them and you’ll be there for them regardless. Kind of like family.

When they win and actually reward your fanaticism it’s fantastic. This video is proof of that:

But when they lose and crush your spirit, somehow that bonds becomes even deeper and more pronounced. That which doesn’t kill you makes you more pissed off or something like that.

For instance, the late 80s and early 90s were not a good time for the New England Patriots. My dad had season tickets, and we watched our 1-15 Pats get creamed every Sunday while sitting on uncomfortable aluminum benches with no backs in a shoddy stadium while the December rain, snow and sleet pounded us during a meaningless loss. Sounds miserable right? In a way it was, but those games also gave me some of my most cherished memories with my dad. Father and son, braving the elements, loyal to a team most others had abandoned long ago. True fans. Diehards. The ones who never gave up hope and came back year after year. Battle-tested.

Will just turned 2 in April. He’s already been to a Red Sox game and a Celtics game. The first of many. I will teach him loyalty. Passion. Resiliency. I will show him how to be a good fan, and remind him that fan is short for fanatic. Because it’s OK to be a sports nutcase. And he will know he’s with kindred spirits of like-minded crazies. It’s something we’ll always be able to talk about, even when he’s an obnoxious teenager. It will be a lifelong bond between the two of us that will last as long as I’m breathing.

And I know this because my dad has shown me the blueprint. Happy Father’s Day to all!

When you’re done here check out Dad-Blogs and Fatherhood Friday, where I wish all the dads a great Father’s Day. Except the LA Lakers fans. They can suck my ass. today.

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