Father’s Day x 10


Today I officially celebrate my tenth Father’s Day. My oldest child is only 8 1/2, so you may wonder how that’s possible, but in June of 2007 when my wife was five months pregnant she presented me with this on Father’s Day. So that makes this my tenth celebration of Father’s Day as a father.

I have two children now and neither one of them has ever declared their delight in my library profession (or in archives and records management, where I’ve worked since 2008). This is okay as that’s probably not going to win them many cool points.  I do love Father’s Day though.  As someone with a birthday in late autumn it’s nice to have a summery day to celebrate on,  and my children always make me feel special.

Before I had children, I was concerned that I might not be a good father. This is partially because I’m an anxious person in general and partially because I did not have the best example in my own father. He was prone to anger and was abusive. He worked long hours and traveled a lot, so as a child I could go long hours without seeing him. When I was 8 my parents separated permanently and then were divorced. Around the same time my dad began suffering the effects of a particularly debilitating version of multiple sclerosis and so in my later childhood my sister and I would visit him in the nursing home and need to help him with simple tasks. He died when I was 17.


I do have good memories of my father. While its cliche, we watched sports together on tv and he took us to many games and it formed a nice bond. He also took us on trips to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and California and helped spur my love of travel and visiting museums and historic sites. Despite being a Nixon Republican, he got us the Free to Be .. You and Me album, which probably informed my young political identity. Most importantly, he wasn’t one of those men who couldn’t express their emotions and frequently told me “I love you.”

So in November 2007, this happened

and now I was a dad!  There have been some challenges – lack of sleep, a constantly messy house, a near end to “alone time,” and temper tantrums – but being a father is overwhelmingly positive

 

Since it’s my tenth Father’s Day, here are ten great things about being a father:

  • Hugs – there is no shortage of physical affection for a dad, and my kids are some of the best huggers around
  • Shared interests – it’s fun to see the kids taking an interest in doing things I love to do like watching sports and visiting historic sites (just like my dad!) or riding bikes and visiting zoos
  • Their interests – it’s also fun to see what the kids become passionate about.  My son became a fan of Magic 106.7 and thus I learned that Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, and Pitbul actually have some good songs.  My daughter likes comic book heroes and movies and thus I’ve caught up with the rest of the world a bit on what this whole Avengers thing is about.

  • Children’s books – name a classic children’s book and there’s a good chance I didn’t read it as a child, because even though I was a bookish nerd, I focused on history and biography. Fatherhood has given me a second chance to read for the first time Goodnight Moon,Where the Wild Things AreHarold and the Purple CrayonThe Snowy DayAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and a whole bunch of Beverly Cleary books, plus many more.
  • Children’s tv – don’t tell the Gen Xers who share memes about how great childhood was in the 70s and 80s, but children’s tv is a lot better today than it was then.  I’ve enjoyed watching many shows with my kids including Bob the Builder, Curious George, Shaun the Sheep, Dinosaur Train, Paw Patrol, The Magic School Bus, Clifford, Thomas and Friends, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Mighty Machines, Doc McStuffins, and that old standby Sesame Street. Plus, my kids have shown only a passing interest in the annoying Dora and Diego shows, so we dodged that bullet.
  • Kid’s eye view – it’s wonderful to see things from a new perspective where things like riding the MBTA can be an adventure.  Plus, on a recent visit to the zoo, I literally got down to my daughter’s eye level and saw some birds I wouldn’t have seen from my tall daddy perspective. They also can bring a spectacular imagination to the mundane.

 

  • Play – oh the kids love to play, and while I may complain of being tired and achy, I love to play with them.  In backyard baseball, I discovered I was suddenly able to throw and catch a ball, at least with a small child.  And bathtime can be an adventure involving the activities of many toy sea creatures.  Pretty much anything can become a game. And when I’m really tired, climbing on a prone daddy can still be fun, so I can still be involved.
  • The introvert advantage – so get this, I go to a social function and I don’t have to talk about myself or justify my existence to anyone, I can just talk about the kids.  And when I’ve had enough of the adults, I can just leave them and go play with the kids!  Who knew that being a father could be an antidote to social anxiety?
  • Watching them grow up – every age has its wonders and both kids were unspeakably cute as babies, and while I miss a lot of what they were like when they were little, I continue to be amazed by watching them grow and learn and create identities for themselves.  I think it will only get better.
  • Kindness – at a baby shower someone asked me what I hoped for my son and I replied “I hope he is kind.”  I stand by this, and it warms my heart when I see my kids helping out at home, school, or church, when they try to take care of us when we’re down, when they show concern for the less advantaged, and especially when they are kind to one another, overcoming that sibling rivalry.

So that’s my tenth Father’s Day post, and I’m looking forward to many more.  To all the dad’s out there, as Ralph Kiner would say, Happy Birthday.  And to all of those who are missing their dads or never had dads they could miss, you’re in my thoughts.

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 24: “Alternative Ulster”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

24: “Alternative Ulster” by Stiff Little Fingers

Finishing up St. Patrick’s Day with this uprising in music by Ireland’s premier punk rock band.

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 23: “Bad”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

23. “Bad” by U2

I couldn’t get through the day without posting a U2 song, even though I’ve never been a huge fan.  This song about heroin addicts in Dublin is a powerful example of their early work in the 1980s

 

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 21: “Don’t Call Me Early in the Morning”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

21. “Don’t Call Me Early in the Morning” by Tommy Sands

This is basically my theme song.

 

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 20: “Dreams”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

20. “Dreams” by The Cranberries

The ethereal vocals of Dolores O’Riordan are one of the defining sounds of 90s alternative music.

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 19: “The Drunken Piper”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

19. “The Drunken Piper” by Natalie MacMaster w/ Cookie Rankin

Sure, this is a Scottish tune by way of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, but you’re three sheets to the wind by now and who can deny the fine fiddling , singing, and rhythm on display.

 

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 18: “”Funky Céilí”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

18. “Funky Céilí” by Black 47

Black 47 brought Celtic punk with a socialist-leaning political bent to New York, although they could still party.  Still one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.

 

 

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 17: “If I Should Fall From the Grace of God”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

17. “If I Should Fall From the Grace of God” by The Pogues

The revolutionary band The Pogues blended punk rock rage with traditional Irish sounds to pretty much redefine Irish music. I could recommend several albums, but here’s one track that shows them at their best.

 

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 16: “Marble Halls”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

16. “Marble Halls” by Enya

Written by Irish composer Michael William Balfe for the 1843 opera The Bohemian Girl, the words to this tune appear in James Joyce’s works.

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 15: “Missing You”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

15. “Missing You” by Christy Moore

I could probably post 24 tunes by Christy Moore alone, but this plaintive cry of the Irish emigrant will have to suffice.

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 14: “A Nation Once Again”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

14. “A Nation Once Again” by The Wolfe Tones

Irish voters once gamed a BBC poll to get this declared the world’s most popular song.  It’s certainly stirring, and I always liked it as a kid when my folks were fans of the Wolfe Tones, although I find the band’s political extremism off-putting these days.

 

 

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 13: “Only Shallow”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

13. “Only Shallow” by My Bloody Valentine

Oh, you thought this was going to be all fiddles & pipes and jigs & reels, but no, the Irish also pioneered shoegaze!

 

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 12: “The Parting Glass”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

12. “The Parting Glass” by Liam Clancy

This is the song I want played at my funeral.  I would post the Revels version if I could find it online, but my fellow Liam does a good rendition as well.

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 11: “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

11. “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys

I’m not a fan of Dropkick Murphys but I make an exception for this song because 1) the lyrics are by Woody Guthrie, 2) it’s about Boston, and 3) it’s fun when they play it Fenway Park.

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 10: “Song For Ireland”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

10. “Song of Ireland” by Dick Gaughan

My favorite rendition of this song.  His voice paints a picture of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic.

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 9: “The Star of the County Down”


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

9. “The Star of the County Down” by The Chieftains and Van Morrison

The great popularizers of Irish trad and Ireland’s most noted rock & roll singer/songwriter join together on this traditional ballad.

 

24 hrs of St. Patrick’s Day 6: “Whistling Gypsy” by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m posting one of my favorite Irish songs every hour.

6. “The Whistling Gypsy” by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem

I’m trying not to repeat artists, but it’s nearly impossible to settle on one song from The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.  This one will have to do though since it is one of my all-time favorites that I’ve used as an audition song and as a lullaby.