What do we teach our children on Father’s Day?

by John Kass | © 2021 John Kass

Happy Father’s Day my friends!

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But here we are on Father’s Day. And when I’m writing on a Sunday, I usually don’t write a column about leaving my job.

I write a Father’s Day column. So, here’s a new one for johnkassnews.com


The Burning of the Cargo Shorts on Fathers’ Day.

There is a Father’s Day photo of my sons and me at the beach, looking out at the horizon. My goddaughter Lia took the photo. That memory is one of the great treasures of my life.

Was it taken on Father’s Day or after? I don’t recall. But I do think it speaks to everything about being a father, with the children, looking out into the future.

What do we teach them? What tools do we give them to survive in the world, spiritually and physically? I think one of the most important is confidence:

The confidence to try new things. The confidence to clearly assess a situation and change course without regrets and never bend the knee.

The confidence to see the limitations ahead yes, and the dangers, but life is about risk and there are possibilities out there.

In a way that is why I made the move. That is why I’m doing all this. To show them what can be done.

But there is another reason I posted the photo. The shorts. And regrets about the shorts.

If you’re a dad, then today is Father’s Day, which means “the dad” is to be presented with gifts as part of the ritual celebration of love.

Unfortunately, there is a horrid ritual too, for many:

The meek acceptance of the bleeping “casual shorts,” the father may wear when going outside in public, because the family hates his cargo shorts.

She hates them. The boys hate them. They’re so “old.”

And it seems he must rid himself of the cargo shorts—perhaps burn them in a ceremonial fire in the back yard–and accept the new (bleeping) “casual shorts.”

“They’re slimming,” she’ll say.

“They look better than old cargo shorts,” the boys will say.

“They make you look younger,” they all say.

They’ll be taken aback by his scowl, as if he’d give two figs about looking younger.

He doesn’t. He’s old now. He likes being his age. He’ll never again have a 32-inch waist. He’ll never again go three rounds. He’s dealing with it. He likes it that way.

Today he’s about as old as the terribly “old ones” in the bad, post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels he read as a boy, when he’d dream of himself as terribly old but not that old, perhaps only 35, with slightly graying temples, smoking a pipe while cheerily leading a band of nomads trying to rebuild Western Civilization with rude tools.

In those boy dreams of the apocalyptic future there was a telepathic pet Sabre tooth tiger speaking mind-thoughts in an English accent.

The tiger helped him keep order among the illiterate nomads.

But that’s a sci-fi column, sorry. This is a column about Father’s Day and giving up the comfortable shorts for the “slim” shorts.

“I had to do it last year,” said a friend of mine. “Gave up the cargo shorts. The family wanted it that way.”

Did you burn them in ceremonial fire?

“No,” he said. “I just put the new ones on. The old ones disappeared somewhere.”

He thought Sunday would be easy. Just take the gifts, pretend they were exactly what he wanted, grill some steaks (blue cheese butter) and salmon (lemon herb butter), then sit down to watch sports on TV.

Later perhaps, a fine maduro cigar.

Perhaps he’ll sneak a slice of banana cream pie. She denies him pie these days, but his intelligence network has informed him that pie will indeed be offered.

If he abandons all dignity and whines in the manner of Zeus the Wonder Dog—the notorious mind-bending German Shorthair Pointer whine that can break the will of the most hardened terrorist—maybe, just maybe, he’ll be given a tiny slice.

Or he might just bluster his way to pie because you never know if he’ll be dead tomorrow in a random robbery, and they will all feel terribly guilty forever because they left him pie-less on the one day he was to be indulged.

Now, can we get back to the cargo shorts he must burn?

Those “slimming shorts” are wretched torture devices, with small, worthless pockets.

He can’t put tomato tape for tying tomato vines to stakes in those pockets, along with a thick roll of garden jute, car keys and a phone.

He can’t put pruning clippers in the other pocket, with perhaps a notepad to capture an almost forgotten memory of post-apocalyptic and sarcastic Saber-toothed tiger with the telepathic voice of British actor Sean Bean.

He will have his piece of banana cream pie. He will light his fine maduro cigar. He will bask in the love of his sons and wife.

But he will not give up his cargo shorts. He’s the dad, all right?!

And being a dad means you’re allowed to have one pair of comfortable shorts in your life.

Happy Father’s Day.

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