Today is Father’s Day, and after a special breakfast — French toast and bacon, please? — my children will no doubt honor me with some heartfelt trinkets that will reach out and touch my tiny Grinch-like heart.
I’m not completely self-absorbed, however. That T-shirt or mug may say “World’s Best Dad,” but I’m fairly certain that Target didn’t ask for documentation before selling it. I’ll wear it proudly, but I know it’s not me.
I see the other dads. The ones who go on long father-son fishing trips. The ones who put work aside and coach their Little League teams anyway. The ones who smile and shrug instead of scream when you have a ketchup fight on the living-room furniture.
World’s Best? No chance. Maybe 50th percentile? On a good day?
I thought that today would be a good time to reflect on my shortcomings. My first son was born 13 years ago, followed by his brother a couple of years later. At the time, I made some promises about how I would raise them. How true to my words have I been? Well ...
I promised to keep you safe — So far, so good. You’re both healthy and alive, and we’re totally not buying that new place next to the crack house, unless the broker comes down another five grand.
I vowed that I would stoically do my fatherly duties, such as changing diapers, without complaint — I changed them, but yes, there was a certain amount of complaining and resentment. To be fair, I thought you’d be potty trained well before you were 9 years old.
That’s a joke guys, come on. Have a sense of humor.
I promised never to use you as comedic devices in print — Whoa. Sorry about that. Probably won’t happen again.
I promised never to fall back on the retort my mother used — “Because I’m your mother!” — when presented with an irrefutably logical argument — So far have not been presented with one of these so-called logical arguments.
I vowed to set aside money for college expenses — I suppose it depends on what college you go to, and, well, how many weeks you’d like to go. You guys are smart; maybe you can get scholarships.
I promised that I wouldn’t let your mother divorce me, so that you’d have to be raised in a broken home, with some smooth-talking, well-dressed stepfather with perfect hair and a giant trust fund — Thus far the “must stay together for the good of the kids” argument is still working.
I said that I would always make time to play catch in the backyard — Too many times I’ve been working to pay for the backyard and put the catch off until later. I’ll be better with the grandkids, I promise.
I promised to buy you a pony if you were good — I never actually intended to buy you a pony, but be honest: have you ever been pony-level good?
I promised to instill in you a good work ethic that will serve you well for the rest of your lives — Let’s see … the dishes are stacked in the sink. There’s not an open spot of floor in your bedrooms. And apparently the dog has passed away, waiting by the door for someone to walk her. And now you want your allowance?
I vowed to never raise my hand against you — They’ve never been hit, though I admit to dropping them a few times when they were small and slippery.
I promised to never raise my voice against you — That was never going to happen. See? I’m a monster.
I promised to make sure that you ate right — Well, at least make sure that you ate. Can’t say that I ever take you out for a giant plate of vegetables, but an ice cream cone after an exceptional effort is common.
I promised to show you a good example of what a father should be — Which is why it’s important for you guys to watch every episode of “The Walking Dead.” See how much Rick loves his little boy Carl?
I vowed that I was never going to just let you win without earning it. Not on a basketball court or a tennis court or a checkerboard or in a game of Go Fish — Now they won’t play any games with me, which is a shame, because they keep getting better at everything, and I’m losing handfuls of brain cells every day.
I claimed that I would strap your right arm behind your back so that you’d have to throw left-handed, guaranteeing a long and profitable career in professional baseball — Stupid child services. Blame them when you have to go out and find a real job.
If you’ll excuse me now, I have to go call my dad. I haven’t been a very good son either. Maybe bottom 20th percentile.
Email Steve Ouellette: email@example.com