Father’s Day began in America, but is celebrated in 55 countries of the world. It has been an official national holiday on the third Sunday of June for over 50 years, but it also took over 50 years to establish it as such because the notion wasn’t as popular as Mother’s Day. 

Showing appropriate appreciation for men can be challenging. Unlike women, most are not really fond of flowers. While my dad would have enjoyed a thick juicy steak and my son, who has given me 3 gorgeous grandkids, is a fan of BBQ, both live out of town so I resorted to sending them cards. 

They don’t golf, sail or fish and they’re not into smaltzy verses so card selection was a little tricky. When reflecting about what to write in each card, I realized what makes each special is time spent together. For both dads I noted a few memories of joyful interactions that surfaced in my mind. 

Though socialized for toughness, fathers often permit a softer side to emerge in the presence of their kids. My dad’s toughness made me feel safe, but his playful side made him fun like when he helped me learn to ride a bike. 

I remember the day he took off the training wheels and held onto the back of my seat while running alongside pushing as I pedaled. He didn’t let go until I pedaled fast enough down the sidewalk to steady that pink bike with the floral basket all on my own. 

Often times, the best part of my day was when Dad was done with work and came home from his office. My brothers and I always wanted to play. Being playful at the end of a work day takes conscious effort but he dutifully switched gears and obliged. 

My grandkids greet their daddy with hugs and kisses at the front door, if they’re still awake when he gets home. My son bought his son his first baseball mitt this week and is teaching my grandson to catch like my dad taught me. His recent game of hide-n-seek with his preschooler and toddler had everyone giggling. 

He works in law enforcement down south. One day he had to comfort a child close to his daughter’s age who’d allegedly been molested and then interrogated the accused pedophile. That night when he got home his daughter was wearing the same shirt the victim had worn. Did his heart break a little at the sight? He hugged her tight, read her stories and kissed her extra that night. 

I was reminded of his essay to get into the academy that said he wanted the job so he could spend his time keeping others safe. With after-hour court appearances to serve warrants and last minute calls right before the shift ends that require additional paperwork, he often misses family time. But my son works hard to keep his community safe for his kids by arresting drug dealers and violent perpetrators. 

Thanks to all the Dads for working hard to provide for their kiddos and then shifting gears to come home and have fun too. May fathers everywhere know the gratitude of their kids for letting their compassionate nature shine and choosing to allow their fun side to emerge after taking care of business at work. 

Single dads, whether from divorce or being widowed, who keep putting their kids first should also be admired. Figuring out how to do their daughter’s hair and cook meals can take extra energy and super powers. Those dads who coach kids’ athletic teams also offer extra role modeling which many a single mom like myself appreciated. Step-dads who figure out just the right words to encourage another man’s child are also heroes in the hearts of their stepchildren. 

Many dads are everyday heroes and last Sunday we applauded them for showing up to be providers and playmates.

Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at educationallyspeaking@gmail.com.

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