On Father's Day, the ties that bind are all we expect

June 17, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

Fatherhood is tough. For example, fatherhood is having to pretend to be mad when your kid backs the car into a tree.

We yell -- but only because it's our job.

Later, you should see us laugh and laugh about the $800 in damage and the fact that the insurance company canceled. Then we just think about how good it is to have children and wonder why we didn't have more.

Believe me, the Travis Bickle imitation is strictly for effect. Some day, you'll appreciate that.

It's just part of what being a good father is all about.

I want you to remember this on Sunday.

You see, many of us agree to be the bad cop in the good-cap, bad-cop job of parenting.

Mom gets to play all the sensitive roles. If she were a man, she'd be Alan Alda. She gets to nurture. She gets to kiss the boo-boos.

Here's what we get: We get to ground you for a week. We don't want to.

Dads are really more sensitive than you can possibly imagine. Yeah, so I went to the Springsteen concert on Halloween when you were 8. Come on, it was Bruce. I've still got the picture of you in the Cinderella outfit. It's right here in my wallet.

You have to know in your heart that I'd have been there on any other night. Well, unless the Rolling Stones had been in town.

Besides, I'm the one who took you to see "Cinderella," aren't I? All right, I sneaked the Walkman into the theater so I could listen to the ballgame. I never said I was perfect.

I try, though. Isn't that what being a parent is all about?

Think about it on Sunday when you don't bring me breakfast in bed.

Moms get breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. Moms get the whole deal. They get flowers and candy. They get cards and calls. From especially thoughtful children, they get those tattoos with the heart and the arrow and a big, fat "Mom." Why not, just once, "Dad"?

As a holiday, Father's Day, as we all know, ranks right up there with Arbor Day.

I've seen more emotion during an Up With People concert.

It's like, well, they invented Mother's Day and so what other choice was there? Besides, the way I understand it, the tie lobby was relentless in pushing for a Father's Day.

I don't wear ties.

I have, however, worn specially-bought-for-Father's-Day socks with teddy bears on them.

You don't think I recognize that gift as a hostile act?

I'll say one thing about Father's Day. It's the day when you're most likely to receive a collect call.

Somehow, it doesn't seem fair. I know we didn't actually have the kids. Often, though, we were in the delivery room, especially if it didn't interfere with any of your major sporting events.

For me, it was Super Bowl Sunday. And yet, I was right there counting along as Mom panted. It was me she punched in the throat and said, "If I live through this, I'm gonna make you pay every day of your life."

You see, it isn't like fathers don't serve a purpose. Here's another example: Somebody has to teach children how to hit.

Think back to when you were small and in the back yard and had that big, ridiculous yellow bat, and for hours, it was Dad who tossed you the oversized ball. That you missed. And missed. And missed.

When you finally hit the ball, it was Dad who took the shot right in the kisser.

You want to know what Dads do? I was the one who went to see every one of your field hockey games. You don't think that deserves some reward?

We don't ask for much.

We ask that, for one day, you don't say, "Mo-om, he's embarrassing me again. Make him stop."

We ask that you don't grab the remote and turn on MTV during the fourth quarter of any game during the NBA finals, unless the hated Knicks are ahead.

We ask that, if you're at college, you keep the phone bill under $200 at least every other month.

We ask you not to make statements like, "Cher used to sing?" and say other things obviously designed to make us seem either old or ridiculous.

We ask that the next time you slam the car into the tree, let it be Mom's car, and see how well she takes it.

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