Leave your Father’s Day message at the beep
For Mother’s Day, I wrote a post comparing mothers to Siri, the at-your-service, voice-activated concierge on the iPhone 4. Yes, perhaps there was a touch of the martyr in it, but it was Mother’s Day, I was celebrating myself. And now I’d like to celebrate the Dads.
If Siri is Mom, I thought, then which gadget is dear old Dad? I think he’s a beeper. Or maybe a really old-model cell phone.
It’s a Saturday morning at our house. There’s yours truly, dashing around like a nut, breaking up fights while I’m brushing my teeth, cleaning up spills, chucking fresh sippy cups of milk at people. Doesn’t matter who. Old Siri’s a bit frazzled; she may lose it. She might drop her signal. These newfangled devices, they tend to go on the fritz every now and again. Where’s Dad?
Dad? He’s around here somewhere. Page him. Da-ad! Dad? Dad? Have you taken out the recycling? It’s full. Siri has detected a broken screen as a potential safety hazard for the past 14 weeks. Have you fixed the screen? Not yet.
There he is. He’s pottering around. No doubt he’s doing something important. He’ll be here in a minute. As with a beeper, you call in your message, he hears the harried ping! and when he’s ready, he’ll get back to you. It may take him a while. He may have some other stuff to Google, er, get around to first, but he will respond to the beep.
Eventually, the screen gets fixed. The recycling gets taken out. The CDs that you asked him to organize in 2004? They may or may not get sorted out. But today, Dad, that’s all right. Because though we – I – might stomp, and fuss, and get annoyed in the middle of those hectic moments that constitute life with small children, we know – I know – you will always answer our calls.
Household tasks are ephemera. To-do lists get torn up, or deleted from our screens, as we constantly move on to the next thing. But for every moment that matters, Dad is there. For teaching C to ride a bike. For reading to T. For family dinners, for Easter egg hunts, to dry tears, to end tantrums. To take rambunctious children to the playground and bring sleepy ones home again. To find a binky in the middle of the night, to carry a sick child to bed.
Maybe beepers are not built to immediately respond to your every need, like an iPhone. Maybe old cell phones can’t book doctor’s appointments while looking up the capital of Belgium and a recipe for Swiss chard pie. But old-model beepers and phones, like Dads, are indestructable. You can drop them on concrete, in the toilet, or down in disgust, but they always revive themselves, don’t they? Dads like ours may get as frazzled as Siri in the fray, but they always come out at the end smiling, grateful for their families, unshaken in their devotion to them. I feel sometimes like I might shatter if someone throws one more meatball at the wall. But I can’t count how many hectic days have started with cold coffee and ended with hair askew, a glass of wine, and C and T’s Dad reminding me how lucky we are to have those boys.
Happy Father’s Day. To my Dad, to C and T’s uncles, my father-in-law, and to my friends who are Dads. To all Dads. But above all, to my husband, who I thank for his patience and resilience. You are a great Dad. But here is one final message to you: if you think you can pull out this post the next time I ask you to organize those CDs, you are incorrect, sir!