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The Father's Day Gift Guide

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

Through a strange quirk in the way that holidays are scheduled, Father's Day appears on the calendar after the school year has ended. While this is good news for retail outlets that like advertising "dads and grads" sales, the timing has the unintended effect of changing the gift-giving calculus. While my wife has stacks of teacher-overseen Mother's Day projects -- portraits, those plastic plates with artwork on them, ceramic cups -- I tend not to get the homemade touch.

The whole gift-giving thing seems artificial to me, but there is apparently a huge market for Father's Day gifts. Over the last three weeks, Stacey and I have been overwhelmed by public relations pitches for all manner of Dad's Day gift ideas, from the plausible (a golf card to benefit the American Lung Association) to the weird (the socks of the month club).

But I have to be honest with you: With a few exceptions, dads are not looking for socks or golf (or most of the other dreck tossed our way). But here are five things that dad really does want this Sunday:

AN EXPRESSION OF UNDYING FAITH TO HIS CHOSEN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM: My children may grow up to be amoral traders of credit-default swaps, but what really keeps me up nights is the idea that they may someday, of their own free will, buy a Yankees hat. Nothing could be sweeter than waking up to my daughter telling me that she thinks that Tim Wakefield will continue to have a career year.

CONTROL OF ALL MUSIC IN THE HOUSE AND CAR: I have written before of my utter contempt for the music people at Disney who engineered up Hannah Montana and her ilk, but I like the kids too much to smash their CD with a hammer. Still, a week of nothing but Johnny Cash, A Tribe Called Quest and Pearl Jam would do my mental health good.

A NIGHT UNDER THE STARS: All dads want to get back to that simpler time in their life and re-live those childhood memories. Back in the days when Atari was high-tech and cable television was something close to a myth, I spent a lot of time in the woods. I don't anymore, and getting back to nature would be a nice way to span the generations.

A GOOD, DUMB, SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER: In 2009, I have seen exactly three movies in the theater: "Hotel for Dogs", "Slumdog Millionaire" and "A Night at the Museum". Being a husband and a parent means that the loud, wholly implausible Michael Bay movies usually end up crossed off the list. But I hold out hope that maybe I'll get a peek at Star Trek before it goes to DVD.

BEER: Sure, it's stereotypical and Homer Simpson's beverage of choice. But you really can't go wrong with a nice six-pack. Because -- trust me -- a couple of cold ones on a summer night will go down much better than socks, even monthly, mail-order socks.

Dads: What is on your wish list this year?

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

By Brian Reid |  June 19, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads
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Comments


"AN EXPRESSION OF DYING FAITH TO HIS CHOSEN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM"

LOL! Do you mean UNDYING faith?
Instead of dreaming about one your kids buying a Yankees' hat, why not dream of one of your kids BEING a Yankee? Eh?

Posted by: jezebel3 | June 19, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

"Instead of dreaming about one your kids buying a Yankees' hat, why not dream of one of your kids BEING a Yankee? Eh?"

LOL. My dentist's kid pitches for the White Sox. The doc says that if, heaven forbid, the kid ever winds up in the Bronx, he's either going to have to give up his lifelong hatred of the Bombers, or disown his son. Doc says it'll be a tough choice. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | June 19, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

My husband wants a bike so that he can tour around with the kids this summer. I'm all for that!

My dad probably wants to go out for wings and couple beers, then take a nap. I am for that too!

Posted by: cheekymonkey | June 19, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

My husband wants tools. I know that one of the guys at work broke his measuring tape and he very carefully pointed out the exact one that he wanted the last time we were at Home Depot. I suspect that was a hint.

He also emphatically stated that he doesn't want clothes of any kind. He had plenty and I couldn't disagree with that.

Tomorrow, I will need to take the kids with me on a gift buying run so we can celebrate the holiday.

Posted by: Billie_R | June 19, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Well Brian, you missed the #1 AND #2 thing all us dads really want on Father's Day.

Hint: #2 is the nap afterwards.

This should go without saying. If the husband brings up the suggestion first, it's not counted as a gift.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | June 19, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

"He also emphatically stated that he doesn't want clothes..."

Hint to Billie: The guy wants to be naked. You can figure out the rest.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | June 19, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Well Brian, you missed the #1 AND #2 thing all us dads really want on Father's Day.

Hint: #2 is the nap afterwards.

This should go without saying. If the husband brings up the suggestion first, it's not counted as a gift.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | June 19, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse
_________________________________________


that's pretty funny, but it's absolutely true. seriously. even those who are knocking boots regularly can appreciate it, especially with the nap!

then lets take the kids to brunch and play at the park for an hour, then you go to your girlfriend's house with the kids for the next three hours. i would love to sit at the house with a book and a beer and some music and just relax.

come on back at 4pm or so and lets have some friends over for dinner.

sounds perfect.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | June 19, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm getting a day to go mountain biking.

And I totally relate to the favorite team thing. I'm a Jets fan living in Denver and I've worked very hard to get my kids to know who they need to root for. So the other morning my 5 year old daughter said she likes the Broncos. My 7 year old son replied "No, you like the Jets. The Broncos don't have a quarterback."

Posted by: dennis5 | June 19, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I resigned long ago to the fact that my kids would more likely than not be Yankee fans, and not O's fans like their old man.

I'm okay with it, because part of rooting for a team (I think) is being part of a community - hanging out with like-minded friends who you can commiserate or celebrate with. Their choice of team is no reflection on me.

As for "Father's Day"...stupid holiday. Don't need Hallmark to tell me my kids love me on Sunday.

ps, dennis, the Jets don't "have a quarterback" until Sanchez/Klemmens/Ratcliff actually do something useful.

Posted by: 06902 | June 19, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"I'm okay with it, because part of rooting for a team (I think) is being part of a community - hanging out with like-minded friends who you can commiserate or celebrate with. Their choice of team is no reflection on me."

Oh, I disagree, my family is from Pittsburgh. We're Steelers, Penguins and Pirates fans first. I've never lived in Pittsburgh, but my extended family is there. If I came home in something other than the black and gold, it would be like turning my back on the family. I think my dad would have an easier time accepting if i turned away from catholicism than if I came home a Browns or Flyers fan. some things just aren't done to the people who raised you.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | June 19, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

My dad was not a sports fan. He worked hard all his life in blue-collar jobs. His ideal Father's Day was a cook-out in the backyard with his kids and grandchildren around him, an ice cream freezer stirring up a batch of homemade ice cream, and a nap under a shade tree afterward.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | June 19, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

A re-post of one of my many songs.

Fred aka The Songster

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: Fred | June 19, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

NoVa, if it's part of your family's identity, then I guess I can see it. I just feel like I don't want to rob my kid of having something in common with the community he grows up in. It's lonely (and depressing since 1998) being an O's fan in NY/CT.

Btw, if you don't live in Cleveland or Philly, why would you be a fan of either of those teams? Rooting for rivals is one thing, but would your dad care if you were a Nats fan?

Posted by: 06902 | June 19, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Ahh,, AB, what hard choice? Disown the son would be the only honorable thing to do! They ain't call damn yankees for nuthin'!

Posted by: Fred | June 19, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

"No, you like the Jets. The Broncos don't have a quarterback."

The Broncos actually have more of a quarterback than do the Jets. Orton gets no respect despite having a 21-12 career record as a starter on a team that wasn't that good (and that bizarrely thought Rex GROSS-man could play QB in the NFL). I'm kind o' partial to them Purdon't quarterbacks, ya know - Orton and Brees are both pretty decent.

Now, what do I want this Father's Day? First, for it not to rain. :-) Then for middle DD's team to sweep its doubleheader, and youngest DD's team to win its game. Then home to grill some steaks!

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | June 19, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"why would you be a fan of either of those teams? Rooting for rivals is one thing, but would your dad care if you were a Nats fan?"

The rivals just came to mind first. Re: the Nats, it would just be weird.

To your point of being a part of the community, I've always enjoyed being part of the opposition. i've seen the teams more on the road than I have at their home games. And with cable packages, etc it's easier to follow the teams now than when i was growing up

Posted by: NoVAHockey | June 19, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Another hint for the girls:

A dad need not have to ask you or a kid to bring him a beer on Father's Day. When you notice the can or bottle getting low, that's your clue to get him another. The beer should be served chilled, opened, and with a smile. :-)

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | June 19, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

What made the Broncos qb comment so funny was he didn't get it from me, I don't know where he picked it up.

06902, at least get your spellings and facts right. It's Clemens and Ratliff, and they traded Ratliff to Cleveland in the deal to get Sanchez.

Posted by: dennis5 | June 19, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Hoo boy. Yes, it should be *undying* faith. Fixing now. But -- as a kid -- the Red Sox were slowly killing me, year after year after year.

Posted by: rebeldad | June 19, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Dennis, the fact that I misspelled Clemens (oh the horror!) pretty much proves he's a nobody - and doesn't change the fact that the Jets don't have a proven QB...(and haven't since...I don't know, Boomer, and maybe that one decent year from Pennington). I'll shut up when they win a playoff game again...

Posted by: 06902 | June 19, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

DH and Grandpa are getting a trip to the movies (probably Star Trek). It helps that Grandma is willing to babysit for free.

Posted by: skm1 | June 19, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

So I was going to take my son to Build a Bear this afternoon to make his dad a father's day bear. I figured I would kill 2 birds with one stone, since the boy has been asking to go to build a bear for quite some time now and I have been putting it off. Not really sure if husband needs a teddy bear, but it would be something his son made for him. I am still undecided.

Whacky, how the hell do you and your wife find time for nooky? I only have 2 kids and I am spent!!

Posted by: emily8 | June 19, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

06902, you obviously completely missed my point - it has nothing to do with whether the Jets have a better qb than the Broncos or are even a better team. It's that my son was aware enough to pick up on idea that "the Broncos don't have a quarterback" and use it in an argument with his sister about why she should like the Jets instead of the Broncos.

Posted by: dennis5 | June 19, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Here, for as long as we've had kids, mom's day is during the school year, and dad's day is not. So last year, after school ended, the kids and I were at the museum and they had some sort of craft day going on - so dad got two cockroaches! They colored them and stuck them on clothespins. Dad was so proud!

This year, the kids made him cards. But the big thing is it's not only dad's day - it's dad's BIRTHDAY. Older one is off to a sleepover, so little one (if he gets better, home sick right now) is off to cousin's house for a sleepover. So dad and mom are going out to dinner and dad knows nothing about it. Older son keeps telling dad about a surprise party (which completely does not exist, so it's SO funny that dad's thinking that it DOES and I'm just playing him).

So in the AM on Sunday, I'm thinking we can pick up the kids and go to the pool. Should be fun. I also bought dad a shirt...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | June 19, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

yeah, yeah, I get the cute kid story...i was just trying to move on and talk about far more interesting things, like football.
I find Jets fans (and Mets fans) the most sensitive/defensive - it's fun and easy to get them riled up.

Posted by: 06902 | June 19, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Go Mets! I agree with the dentist.
DH is a St. Louis Cards fan, kid is a Braves fan. *sigh*

Posted by: atlmom1234 | June 19, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Emily, it's called my work from home day, otherwise known as "sex at the office".

Also, I think a teddy bear makes a great Father's Day gift. I've been asking for a new one for years as my old one is all stretched out, thread bare (except for the fur coming from his nose and ears), missing an eye, and leaking stuffing from his head. I mean, he's really starting to resemble me in every detail.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | June 19, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Well Atlmom, there are things far worse than being a Cards fan. (Sainted Mother was a lifelong one despite being from Illinois)

Say, being a damn yankee fan.

Fred

Your lifelong, undying Cubs fan!

Posted by: Fred | June 19, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Fortunately for me, I follow sports more than DH - well, slightly more, since none of us really follows any of the teams around here.

Yes, DH's first hint was for a bit of horizontal recreation. I'm not entirely clear on how that is a *Father's* day present, since it *definitely* doesn't come from the boys - unless his intention is to father another kid.

I suggested that I take the boys out for a hike, and let DH have some time to himself, and he seemed to like that idea.

Posted by: SueMc | June 19, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

NoVAHockey, My family is from Pittsburgh and Catholic, and watching a Penguins game with them can be life treatening.

My dad is from da burgh so we got the healthy dose of Steelers crammed down our throats, but we grew up to be Redskins fans and Steelers were our second. I jumped on the Penguin's bandwagon during the Stanley cup, much to my husband's chagrin.

Those Steelers genes go deep though - my daughter is a huge Steelers fan. Redskins is her number one team (big Chris Cooley fan) and Steelers is her second too. My Aunt bought her a terrible towel and her friend bought her a Roethlisberger jersey for her birthday, so she wears her Pittsburgh gear when she is with my dad. He LOVES it!

Posted by: cheekymonkey | June 19, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Yikes. Conversation has gone to sports. Time to go for me. Happy weekend everyone, and to the dads out there, have a great father's day.

Posted by: emily8 | June 19, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Grilled Cheese Sandwich!!!

Posted by: echovector | June 19, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

SueMc wrote: "Yes, DH's first hint was for a bit of horizontal recreation. I'm not entirely clear on how that is a *Father's* day present, since it *definitely* doesn't come from the boys - unless his intention is to father another kid."

Sparked a chuckle.

Posted by: davemarks | June 19, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

** This would be a good subject for a future blog.

Serious Threat of Death for Children in Carseats!!!

Parents,

Each summer we hear of children who die in hot cars. In virtually every case, the person responsible for the child's death claims to have "forgotten" that the child is in the backseat. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOUR CHILD. It is so easily preventable if we would each only employ some simple memory jogging procedures each time we strap our children into the car.

Don't simply say, "This couldn't happen to me." We all get tired, stressed, rattled, in a hurry, or just plain "foggy" at times. We're human. PLEASE TAKE THOSE EXTRA SECONDS TO MAKE SURE IT CAN'T HAPPEN.

Try one of these:

1) Put your purse, phone, briefcase (whatever you will personally need whenever you exit your vehicle) inside of, or underneath the diaper bag...preferably in the backseat next to the child. You will then not be able to exit the vehicle without reminder of the child.

2) Firmly attach a long piece of chain, string, etc., from your key ring to the child's car seat each time the child is placed in the seat. You will then not be able to remove your keys from the vehicle without reminder of your infant.

3) Place the shoe you're not driving with in the back seat next to the carseat. You wouldn't absent-mindedly leave the car without a shoe. On a cold winter day, you could do the same thing with your winter coat.

4) Instruct your childcare provider to please call you on your cell phone if your child doesn't arrive when he/she is expected.

Please forward this email to everyone you know. By getting the word out, we can help save a life!

Posted by: kattoo | June 19, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

katoo, someone who is "tired, stressed, rattled, in a hurry, or just plain "foggy" at times" is just as likely to forget to employ these strategies as they are to forget a child - probably moreso.

If you want to save a life, drain your pool or put a fence around your pond. 38 kids a year die from car hyperthermia, more than 1000 per year drown in pools.

Posted by: 06902 | June 19, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: 06902 | June 19, 2009 4:11 PM

Well, actually, that's why the idea is to make things a habit.

From Weingarten's article, the thing that struck me was that it wasn't just tiredness/stress -- it was a combination of tiredness/stress/whatever AND a variation from the normal routine. Most of us do a lot on autopilot -- at least I do -- and we rely even more on autopilot when we're tired, stressed whatever. So when mom is sleep-deprived and unexpectedly has to do dropoff instead of dad, it's very, very easy for that autopilot to kick in and mom to just drive to work.

Weingarten's article scared the bejeebers out of me. So I figured, if the autopilot is the problem, change my autopilot. I knew all the complicated solutions weren't going to work for me (I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached; I'm going to remember to tie a string?). So I chose a very little, simple variation on what I already did: I started putting my purse in the back seat instead of the front. Every day, every time. Within two weeks, it was automatic. And now, when my autopilot kicks in, at least it makes me look at the darn carseat before I leave the car.

Of course we need to be aware of the magnitude of the threat, and the costs of prevention -- I'm not putting my kids in the front seat (where I won't forget them), because there is a far, far higher likelihood that I'll be in an accident and they'll be injured by the airbag. But that doesn't mean we should ignore other simple, easy, FREE safety measures. In one swoop, I changed my habits in a way that makes my kids safer, with absolutely zero extra effort or cost. To me, that seems like a no-brainer.

Posted by: laura33 | June 19, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

@kattoo - Problem is, I drive a stick shift!

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | June 19, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Give my kids the disney stuff. You can keep the dirty drugged out grunge stuff. Better miley cyrus than the blow my head off with a shotgun Cobain any day......

Posted by: pwaa | June 19, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

isn't the build-a-bear present just the same as getting your wife a Mets hat for Mother's Day? 'cause hey, son wanted to go to a Mets game, lets kill two birds! pretty lame.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | June 20, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm enormously gratified to realize there are fellow Mets/Jets fans here. There is nothing cuter than a 2.5 year old girl, in pigtails, wearing a David Wright jersey.

Posted by: dcd1 | June 20, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

My wife did the beer thing one better. A gel mug that keeps your beer cold indefinitely. Buy a man a six pack and he'll be hammered for a night. Buy him the perfect mug and he'll be hammered for a lifetime!

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | June 23, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

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