What Dad Really Wants on Sunday

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

When I was a kid, I don't remember Father's Day being a commercial endeavor at all. Maybe a card was involved, or a sleeve of golf balls or a trip to the batting cages, but that was it. Flash forward a few decades, and now Father's Day has been given the consumer treatment. Even People magazine feels compelled to cut into its Brittany Spears coverage to bring readers a mammoth gift-ideas section.

I'm all for doing as little as possible to note the day. But if you really want to make a big deal of things, forget about gift-wrapping a new GPS unit and try out:

  • Breakfast at the greasiest spoon imaginable. As a kid, my father used to take me to a joint called Roosters that served two eggs, two pancakes, two strips of bacon, two pieces of toast and all the butter patties and coffee you could consume for $2.22. It was heaven. Some places locally to recapture that dining-with-dad experience ? Probably Bob and Ediths and the Tastee Diner.
  • A day without an agenda. Especially with all of the end-of-the-school-year events, it's nice to have a day without anything at all planned. Dad may not want to go golfing or fishing or hit Best Buy. Cancel everything and leave it up to him.
  • Games. Have an unused Monopoly board? Some baseball mitts gathering dust? This is the day to break 'em out. Nothing brings out real conversation with dad like some mild competition.
  • A bike ride. No better way to spend a day than with the wind in your face and your family around you. Plus, with gas at four bucks a gallon, it's a good excuse to get used to traveling on two wheels.
  • Really good steaks: It's a rare father who actually needs a new set of grill tools (which seem to be popular with the gift-guide set), but most of us would love the chance to use the tools we already have to grill up a steak that's a step up from the usual strip.
  • What about you guys: Is there actually anything you want for Father's Day?

    Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

    By Brian Reid |  June 10, 2008; 7:10 AM ET  | Category:  Dads
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    Riding a bike? Monopoly? No chance. What this dad wants is a relaxing afternoon on the couch with a six-pack watching the final round of the U.S. Open!

    Posted by: fredneck | June 10, 2008 7:18 AM

    my husband wants a PS3...though he may get water guns from the youngest too.

    monopoly? No way, do the competition thing on a wii, guitar hero rock out on Dad's favorite old songs.

    Posted by: dotted | June 10, 2008 8:00 AM

    This dad wants a chance to kick back and watch his daughters play a couple of ball games.

    I'd love to go flying again, but my Class 3 Airman's Certificate is no longer current. (sigh.) Maybe when the kids are grown and out of the house.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | June 10, 2008 8:09 AM

    I just want a nap!

    Posted by: Fred | June 10, 2008 8:12 AM

    For his Fathers' Day present, my husband asked me to buy, sign, and mail his dad's Fathers' Day card.

    Yep, we're lazy. :-)

    Posted by: Laura | June 10, 2008 8:13 AM

    Of course, having Junior's 600th home run ball would be nice!

    Posted by: Fred | June 10, 2008 8:15 AM

    If it weren't so dang hot, my husband wanted to go camping with the boys...but not in this heat!

    Posted by: dotted | June 10, 2008 8:17 AM

    Since it's FATHER'S Day, we're letting the father decide how he would like to spend his day . . . .

    Posted by: Ishgebibble | June 10, 2008 8:26 AM

    Let me think a minute! All three of my adult children are gainfully employed, younger son finished this year of HS with excellent grades, Frieda continues to make progress with her health concerns. Hey, I'm good!

    "It's not having what you want
    It's wanting what you've got"

    Sheryl Crow

    Posted by: Fred | June 10, 2008 8:33 AM

    I would guess that this Father's Day, we will be celebrating his son's birthday which is actually this Thursday. If he doesn't work on Saturday, we might actually celebrate it on Saturday and then go to the zoo on Sunday (which he wants to do) if it is not too darned hot out.

    Gift-wise... I picked up a pair of pants for him from the kids. I presume that the ex will also pick up something from the kids too.

    Nothing special in this household.

    Posted by: Billie_R | June 10, 2008 8:37 AM

    Father's Day: bottom paint boat, launch boat: then a or b

    a. engine starts: tubing with kids, dig clams
    b. engine no start: paddle with kids, sink boat, swim with kids

    a. Dinner: Linguine with clams.
    b. Dinner: biscuit and gravy with weevils on the side.

    Posted by: Fo3 | June 10, 2008 8:46 AM

    "my husband wanted to go camping with the boys...but not in this heat!"

    Dotted, get him a camper complete with AC.

    Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 8:58 AM

    We go to a movie that my mom wouldn't want to see in a million years. Usually fantasy or space stuff. I pay for the tickets and any snacks he wants.

    Posted by: Em | June 10, 2008 9:03 AM

    My husband just wants a day without too many plans. No running between kid's birthday parties and activities.

    Posted by: ljg | June 10, 2008 9:05 AM

    "I just want a nap!"

    Of course, however, engaging in the activity that necesitated the nap takes a much higher priority. Hahaha! Just had to mention it for all the women that don't have a clue of what men really want and will go out to some retail store, buy some guy gift, and wrap it up as a present on behalf of the kids.

    Please, someone tell me that the marketing of Father's Day hasn't bottomed out to the point where there exists special wrapping paper for the occasion. Ugh!

    Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 9:12 AM

    I am giving my husband two guitar lessons, no chore day, and a box of chocolate covered pretzels from his favorite store. The chocolate pretzels are actually from our daughter. Her gift to him was NOT eating them ahead of time!

    I think most of all, he just wants to relax but breakfast at IHOP sounds pretty good to me. I am going to throw out the idea to him.

    Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 9:13 AM

    If you want to recreate the greasy spoon Father's Day go to IHOP. Could the sausages and eggs they serve be any cheaper? Yours to find out.

    Posted by: Ugh | June 10, 2008 9:17 AM

    Father's Day and Mother's Day were overtaken by spring (Army) training exercises when I was younger. Mom always thought it was suspicious that they were gone for Mother's Day and back for Father's Day. In our house if there was no Mother's Day celebration, the same applied to Father's Day. Hence I am not in the habit of buying cards, Hallmark hates me.

    dotted = my BF's brother got PS3 for father's day last year - pretty nice gift from his 11 month old son. ;-)

    Posted by: Kate | June 10, 2008 9:24 AM

    A nice Father's Day present would be an hour alone with each of the kids individually. They grow up so quickly, sometimes you have to stop and appreciate each one at this moment in time. They like the individual attention. I try to do this every day for at least a little bit, but chores and activities do overwhelm one.

    Posted by: Ugh | June 10, 2008 9:27 AM

    Moxiedad is getting a new iPod as his old one is dead. I'll also transfer all his old tunage to the new one.

    One way of thanking your parents that I read somewhere that my folks love is to send them flowers or a plant or something on your birthday to thank them for bringing you into this world. My parents really love this. My dad gets a card and hand made cards from the kids for father's day.

    Posted by: Moxiemom | June 10, 2008 9:29 AM

    pretty nice gift from his 11 month old son. ;-)

    Where does a kid that age come up with that kind of scratch? hee hee

    Posted by: moxiemom | June 10, 2008 9:30 AM

    Dad's eat free at Medieval Times on Sunday. Huzzah!

    Posted by: Cliff | June 10, 2008 9:30 AM

    OT, kind of. Our dad died 11 years ago, but I found a recent reminder of how we used to celebrate the day - a silly 'office supply holder' that I made for him out of popsicle sticks when I was in fourth grade. He kept it (and used it!) until he died. I always thought those were the kinds of things that made up Father's Day.

    If he were still around I would be taking him to the Udvar-Hazy (the annex for the Air and Space Museum) to look at the old space stuff that he had a large part in making happen. Instead, I'm going there with my sister as part of her birthday trip down here. She, too, was a Father's Day present!

    Posted by: canary28 | June 10, 2008 9:35 AM

    He just wants me to cut the grass!

    Posted by: PRISCILLA | June 10, 2008 9:35 AM

    "He just wants me to cut the grass!"

    Is that what kids are calling it these days? :-)

    (I have a kick-start lawn mower. I kick the boy until he starts mowing.)

    Thank you; I'll be here all week. Two drink minimum and don't forget to tip your server.

    Posted by: m2j5c2 | June 10, 2008 9:42 AM

    Dad says every year how it's not fair that school lets out between Mom's day and Dad's day - how *I* get presents they made in school, but he does not.

    So we're going to maybe make something between now and then. We've been drawing. HIs birthday is next week too (as well as our anniversary - ouch - tomorrow! I gotta get a card...). So hopefully mom won't drop the ball.

    Posted by: atlmom | June 10, 2008 9:44 AM


    "If he were still around I would be taking him to the Udvar-Hazy (the annex for the Air and Space Museum) to look at the old space stuff that he had a large part in making happen."

    My late father also. I forget if U-H has a Saturn II mock-up or a B-52. If you see these, think about Fred's dad also.

    Posted by: Fred | June 10, 2008 9:55 AM

    Have you all be watching the space special that started last Sunday on Discovery? My Dad thought it was very cool (involved in the space program since 1968, still contracting now).

    Lots of memories for Dad. I more remember the Apollo splashdown parties on the beach in Bermuda. Huge bash after each mission. Remember the monster cakes (I was in the 6-8 year age range at the time, sp a big cake was a big deal.)


    Posted by: To: Fred and Canary28 | June 10, 2008 10:13 AM

    And for those who live thousands of miles from our fathers? Any suggestions for us?

    Posted by: Jennifer | June 10, 2008 10:19 AM

    To Jennifer,

    Pick out one monent that you remember best about dad and tell him about it!

    Once in a while, my kids will tell me of something that they remembered or (GASP) even guided them in life which I did not even give a second thought to at the time.

    Posted by: Fred | June 10, 2008 10:25 AM


    Will do. I know they have the rings from a Saturn V, but I haven't seen the mockup of the Saturn II. I will look this time! I'm not sure about the B-52. I'm TiVoing the Discovery Channel series, but I've not gotten to see it.

    Dad was involved in developing training for water egress, and went out to pick up Apollo 13,15, and 17. I think a few others but those are the ones I know for sure. Nice to know there are some NASA afficionados out there. :)

    Posted by: Canary28 | June 10, 2008 10:26 AM

    Canary 28
    Absolutely true about those homemade objects....This year, my daughter and I took the best of the kids' artwork and bought cheap frames and mats. On Sunday, we will have an artshow and he can pick art for his office with the possibility of a rotating display of art through the year. It provides a constant reminder of the kids and something to share with coworkers. Father's day always is within a few days of his birthday and the art will probably be it in terms of gift along with a meal of his favorite food--lamb chops--with the kids helping with the cooking. THere was a quote in the NYTimes yesterday that said to remind kids that if they feel like they are on third base in life don't assume you hit a triple but recognize that your parents probably got you there without you having to even really swing a bat. So true! so I will remember to say as much to my father this sunday and say it so my kids can hear it.

    Posted by: samclare | June 10, 2008 10:34 AM

    I want......Nothing. Father's day is a made up day by hallmark. Get the kids to sign a card if you must but nothing else. I don't need trinkets or hallmark to tell me I am a good dad. Mother's day is the same thing.

    Posted by: Scrooge | June 10, 2008 10:54 AM

    We work too hard not to enjoy ourselves! My daughter's father got a Wii for Father's Day and my belated Mother's Day gift was a pair of Dior shoes.

    (Sing to the tune of J-Lo's "My Love Don't Cost a Thing"):

    Yes I am greedy
    You must pay for me
    This is not Big Lots
    My love is so costlyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

    Posted by: Denkpaard | June 10, 2008 10:58 AM

    Restondad is getting a gift certificate for an executive manicure and pedicure at the man spa. And we're taking him to Red Lobster for lunch. Will probably do a nice, light breakfast at home and perhaps homemade pizza or a picnic dinner.

    Posted by: restonmom | June 10, 2008 11:07 AM

    I just want one day that I'm not painting, sanding, caulking, fixing, etc the house we're moving into in August. Well, that and the 1080p LCD that will go on the wall when we move in but I'm gonna get that for myself! ;)

    AS for dinner, good steaks were offered up via dining out at the expensive steak place (Ruth Chris was offered) but I'm just as happy cooking them myself or going out to our local chinese buffett or Thai place. I don't need expensive dinners or gifts...I just want a day without oddjobs and possibly some "romantic" attention from the wife!!

    Posted by: Sterling Park | June 10, 2008 11:08 AM

    Hey Sterling Park,

    HS son painted the porch floor & steps without me even asking! 3 Coats! He did a decent job. Of course he wanted money after but I did not get my hands gray for a change! Woo-Hoo!

    Posted by: Fred | June 10, 2008 11:12 AM

    I want a pair of tickets to the Eagles' concert in late July, and want to be taken out to "linner" (Sunday lunch/dinner at about 1 or 2 p.m.) at a crab house by wiffe, kids and grandkids.

    Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 10, 2008 11:19 AM

    I take it all back ... I'm with Fred: a nap would work just fine!

    Posted by: Brian Reid | June 10, 2008 11:29 AM

    I have to credit Tony Kornheiser, and I'm not much of a golfer, but what he said rings true:

    What does a Father want for a Father's Day Gift? To play golf on Mother's Day....

    Posted by: JkR | June 10, 2008 11:36 AM


    Check that, it would be Saturn V.

    And we lived for a while in Downey where the Apollo capusles were made and tested. I remember seeing the big tower and swimming pool in the parking lot of NAA. The engineers dropped test beds of the capusle into the pool! Dad chose to go to the booster project, he could have stayed on the Apollo project.

    I don't have to see the moon project on tv. We lived it every day with dad and thousands of his co workers.

    Posted by: Fred | June 10, 2008 11:50 AM


    Small world - you probably saw my dad at the capsule tests, and didn't even know it =). We grew up outside of Houston by JSC.

    Posted by: Canary28 | June 10, 2008 11:54 AM

    Fred, of course you realize that the first stages of the Saturn V boosters were assembled at Michoud in New Orleans East and floated around to Cape Canaveral by barge. Look at the satellite picture of the facility on Google Maps and you can get a good view of the Saturn V first stage that's still sitting in their "front yard".

    As the crow flies, the house I lived in for years was about 6 miles from what's now called the NASA Stennis Space Center. Back then it was the Mississippi Test Facility. They'd bolt the boosters down and test-fire them.

    I didn't live there at the time, but friends who did noted that every time they'd test fire a Saturn V a good portion of the windows in town would be blown out. NASA trucks would come through a couple hours later and pass out the cash to pay for new windows.

    (I was living there when they test-fired the STS engines, both the SRBs and the main engines. That was bad enough, but the old-timers claim that the Saturns were much, much more powerful.)

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | June 10, 2008 12:18 PM

    Since the kids are up early - as with mom's day - we will try to get to our favorite breakfast place (around here, it's flying biscuit - it was recently sold, to a company that is trying to franchise - HIGHLY recommended).

    Then, there's special stuff going on at the museum and at the botanical gardens, so I told atldad he can pick which one he wants. And he'll get homemade stuff....

    Posted by: atlmom | June 10, 2008 12:27 PM

    Watching the US Open final round in prime time after grilling some ribeyes on the deck.

    Posted by: MM | June 10, 2008 12:27 PM

    One of my favorite Father's Day gifts was some drawings on a piece of paper titled "Dad's Favorite Sayings". I have it pinned up on a divider at work and people who visit my office read me the lines. The ones that get the best chuckles are:

    1. It's all muscle.
    2. The baby needs air.
    3. Remember, don't do anything stupid.
    4. Turn off the TV, floss your teeth and go to bed.
    5. Whadda you mean "Make me"? I made you a long time ago and you DON'T want to know how I did it.

    Nothing beats a personalized gift!

    Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 12:28 PM

    Hopefully my husband will get what I got for Mother's Day...a fun-filled day playing with our three kids, where miraculously, everybody tried new things and nobody fought.

    For gifts, I'm going to try to find him some Berliner Weiss 1809 beer that I read about in Gourmet magazine. And we'll make him a fancy, hot breakfast...a Dutch apple pancake and bacon. Possibly doughnuts as well...our 4-year-old usually insists on it.

    Posted by: Vienna, VA | June 10, 2008 12:31 PM

    To go running in the mountains all day long.

    Posted by: trailrunner-dad | June 10, 2008 12:33 PM

    I want to sleep in!!!

    Posted by: Lugo | June 10, 2008 12:49 PM

    Best Buy? No way. How about a day off. No obligations. No work. No chores. Just a day to do what you choose. No gifts. No cards.

    Posted by: bobbyg | June 10, 2008 12:50 PM

    What's the big deal? Everyday is Father's Day!

    Posted by: Fo3 | June 10, 2008 12:53 PM

    Breakfast at the greasiest spoon imaginable

    Hey, why not?, my arteries need some pampering. Other than that, a long nap will do fine.

    Posted by: Enrique | June 10, 2008 1:14 PM

    DH will get to sleep in - boys and I will make breakfast. Since DH normally does 90%-plus of the cooking, this is a special treat for him.

    He's been asking for a keyboard/synthesizer, but that's not going to happen. First, I'm not clear on which one is the right one (it changes every time a new music supply company catalog arrives) and it would be so wrong to get something he didn't want. Second, a couple of grand isn't in the budget.

    I like the good steaks for the grill idea - consider it stolen fair and square. We grill a whole lot since we can year-round except when it's raining *really* hard in the winter. But we usually have inexpensive meats.

    I'll try to have the boys call my dad on Father's Day if I can figure out where he and Mom are. Last week they were off to Dallas for Mom's family reunion. There isn't a whole lot of contact between the grandparents and my kids (my parents' choice, but they seem to have forgotten), so that will be special for Grandpa.

    Posted by: Sue | June 10, 2008 1:27 PM

    My mother-in-law and my wife's step father are coming this weekend. I had completely forgot that it is supposed to be 'my' day.

    I am just glad this wasn't a Leslie rant about how dads get more or expect more on father's day than mom's get or expect on mother's day.

    Posted by: jjs | June 10, 2008 1:29 PM

    Considering dad doesn't even remember my birthday (he's a little self absorbed) I don't really feel quite so obliged to call him - even if I could.

    He's been telling me for over a year that he'll be here next month. So I'm holding my breath...

    Posted by: atlmom | June 10, 2008 1:29 PM

    My wife is treating me to a long weekend without the kids (all grown anyway) at Wintergreen...

    Posted by: Dave | June 10, 2008 1:43 PM

    The Father's Day Song

    (to the tune of Santa Clause is Coming)

    You better go eat out
    You better really try
    Better not pout
    I'm telling you why

    Father's day is coming around

    You'd made a list
    And checking it twice;
    Going into town to find some Old Spice

    Father's day is coming around

    He sees you when you're sneaking
    He smells that baking cake
    He needs some socks whether bad or good
    But no new ties for goodness sake!

    O! You better watch out!
    You better really try
    Better not pout
    I'm telling you why

    Father's day is coming around
    Father's day is coming around

    Posted by: Songster | June 10, 2008 1:50 PM

    Probably DopeyDaddy will want to spend all the waking hours at the swings with DD, sustained by doughnuts and coconut cake. And he'll get to choose what we watch on TV after DD has gone to bed (although he can't force me to watch it!).

    Posted by: DopeyMummy | June 10, 2008 1:57 PM

    What I really want, I cannot have. Our sons are grown and living in different cities. The thing I want the most would be a day on the golf course with them then back to the house to cook a great meal. This would be followed by an evening of conversation and laughs with the guys, my wife and I.
    At least I'll be able to talk to them on the phone. They sure did grow up fast!

    Posted by: Mike | June 10, 2008 2:23 PM

    Considering dad doesn't even remember my birthday (he's a little self absorbed) I don't really feel quite so obliged to call him - even if I could.

    He's been telling me for over a year that he'll be here next month. So I'm holding my breath...

    Posted by: atlmom | June 10, 2008 1:29 PM

    Do we have the same father? My Dad has been saying the same thing to me for the past year as well. He has seen his grandkids a total of 6x in their lives and the oldest is only 7.

    Posted by: SE | June 10, 2008 3:00 PM

    He's been telling me for over a year that he'll be here next month. So I'm holding my breath...

    Posted by: atlmom | June 10, 2008 1:29 PM

    Do we have the same father? My Dad has been saying the same thing to me for the past year as well. He has seen his grandkids a total of 6x in their lives and the oldest is only 7.

    And when was the last time you went to see him?

    Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 3:31 PM

    You know, for me, it's just nice when my kids remind me of the day. I agree with many, it's kind of a Hallmark holiday, but to have my 18 and 20 year old just wish me a Happy Father's Day, and show their appreciation makes me feel good the whole day - oh yeah, we will be in the right field box seats, watching the Astros take on the Yankees...

    Posted by: John D in Houston | June 10, 2008 3:37 PM

    And John D. it will make my Father's day when the Astros beat the damned yankees!

    Posted by: Fred | June 10, 2008 3:48 PM

    I'd like to revisit the loving moment that enabled me to be a Dad in the first place...

    Posted by: Harry | June 10, 2008 3:51 PM

    I'd like to revisit the loving moment that enabled me to be a Dad in the first place...

    Posted by: Harry | June 10, 2008 3:51 PM


    Can you change the logistics next year, get together with your sons, and have the day you describe? or is there more going on here that keeps you all apart?

    Posted by: MN | June 10, 2008 3:52 PM

    I take my partner to Denny's for dinner. It's a cute tradition we formed, I am definitely his little girl.

    Posted by: Liz D | June 10, 2008 4:05 PM

    At Fred and John in Houston -
    You and me both! Go Stros!

    Posted by: Canary28 | June 10, 2008 4:09 PM

    And when was the last time you went to see him?

    Posted by: | June 10, 2008 3:31 PM

    5 of the 6x he has seen them I have made the trip. Nice try but no cigar.

    Posted by: SE | June 10, 2008 4:11 PM

    SE: don't feed the trolls.

    Anyway, I've been up to see everyone quite a bit. It's not that he *can't*, and in any event, getting four on a plane is different than one on a plane.

    Posted by: atlmom | June 10, 2008 5:21 PM

    "SE: don't feed the trolls.

    Anyway, I've been up to see everyone quite a bit. It's not that he *can't*, and in any event, getting four on a plane is different than one on a plane."

    So, who was it that moved so far away a plane ride is required to visit?

    Posted by: I'm hungry | June 10, 2008 8:41 PM

    Oh, please. Are people really supposed to just sit around twiddling their thumbs because living their lives *might* be more than a 15 minute drive for people? Oh, boo hoo.

    People live their lives. Others can sit there and make promises they won't fulfill, or they can actually have discussions and tell the truth.

    Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 9:06 PM

    I just want an afternoon at the pool and NO PLANS that involve me driving someone somewhere or me driving somewhere to pick up something. Since I get the credit card charge to pay off, please don't buy me anything.

    Posted by: DW in FC | June 11, 2008 8:34 AM

    My husband has to work in the a.m. but should be back by afternoon (it was his choice to work... he could have said no).

    What we're getting him is a professional massage - which he really needs, because the last 6 weeks or so have been CRAZY. This is actually a combo Dad's day/birthday gift, even though his bday's in August. (My birthday is always within a week of Mother's Day, so the combo gift is a reality in our house.)

    His Dad may visit from NJ - if so, I'll grill some steaks. BTW, it's also our daughter's 15th birthday. (She hates it when the two coincide.)

    Posted by: just me | June 11, 2008 11:12 AM

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