Early this spring, Chris spent a weekend assembling a swing set for the kids. At times, he had Tijge join him and do little things to help—“hold this” or “hand me that.” For days afterward, Tijge would look out the kitchen window at the finished swing set and declare with pride and excitement, “I make the swings with Daddy!” It was just one of the many memories that Tijge has already made with his daddy. They watch train videos together, work in the garden together, clean up the workshop together, read the comics together, and so on. And I know that these are just a few of many more memories I know are still to come.
I think back on the kinds of memories I’ve shared with my own Dad over the years. There were the hikes along the highway when I was little enough to ride in a backpack on his back, while he sang “It’s a Happy Day.” There were the car rides when we would listen to cassette tapes of the Beatles and James Taylor and sing along as “Liberty Valance came to town.” Then there was one eventful car ride when the engine actually caught fire! That was exciting. There was the time when Dad taught me how to use a drill, screwdriver, and level, while installing storage shelves in our basement. There was a time when the pigs got loose on the farm where we lived, and we had to climb up to the top of our swing set and wait until Dad came to rescue us. There was even a time in college when Dad read The Twelve Caesars aloud to me because I couldn’t manage to stay focused on the book—it was incredibly boring, to say the least. Then he officiated and sang at my wedding. And the list could go on and on.
I’m glad to know that my kids will one day be able to share similarly lengthy lists of memories with their dad. I know there are lots of dads out there who are busy making memories with their kids. And good on you for it—as they say Down Under. But I also know there are some fathers who—whether they know better or not—act as though their responsibility to their kids ends at bringing home a paycheck. It’s just not true. Your kids need you.
I recently heard a story told by a woman who had, for a long time, resented her absentee father. Ultimately, she overcame her resentment by identifying ONE good memory that she had shared with him—and it was very touching. But those good memories should be the rule, not the exception. So dads, if you haven’t yet, start making time for those memories. They matter way more than you know. Oh, and for all of the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day! Make it a good one.