MY FATHERS DAY OP-ED FOR THIS SUNDAY'S CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Father's Day used to be something like Wedding Day and Christmas Day. Straight forward odes to a pretty straight forward event. Not anymore! Weddings can now be between a man and a woman, a man and a man, a woman and a man, not to mention just hanging out together in the same apartment. Christmas? Well, here too you have to be sensitive that some Jews, Muslims, Hindus and especially Atheists flat out reject the whole Jesus gig.
Now comes Fathers Day.
How do we know precisely what sort of father we are honoring this year? Like everything else in our politically correct culture, recently we've identified different kinds of father. I'm not a sociologist equipped to define these differences, but as a father of three astounding children who will be hosting a little party for me on Sunday, here's my best colloquial categorization of the field:
* The Dick-and-Jane father who my mid-20th C generation always saw in our school-books as the handsome dad [in suit, tie and briefcase] coming home every day about 5:00 to the beautiful stay-at-home mom [in dress, pearls and heels]. He was always there to play ball or dolls with us. Hey, hey, America's 4-star father, circa 1930s-1960s!
* The Absent father who probably worked past 5:00, came home tired, and rarely had much time or Father-Knows-Best inclination to play many games. But he was usually doing his best to put food on the table and tuition in the school envelope. Lets call him 2-star father, circa those same years!
* The Boomer father who appeared with a fierce commitment to being all things to all his children at all times. After all, Boomers had learned that in this booming world, if you dream-it-you-can-do-it; thus, college-bred, good-income Boomer father invested in his kids with an informed passion that included PTA meetings, coaching Little League, taking them to summer camp, and by all means hiring as many private tutors as income allowed. Lets rate him 5-star father, circa 1980s-2000s!
* Finally the Un-Father father. These are those reading this who -- because you fathered too young or too dumb -- have yet to figure out that this fatherhood thing will be the closest you and I will ever get to a kind of greatness in our otherwise little lives. Lets call these the no-stars father, circa anytime in history!
I'm not sure how my son and daughters will be categorizing me this Sunday. All I know is they will be with me. So will their children. And so will the woman who allowed me to become a father in the first place. I wish every category of father out there at least this much....
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