Father’s Day starts early this year with six-year-old Daniel deciding to serve breakfast in bed to his dad. Sounds idyllic and yet looks a bit quirky as Daniel shows up with a tray of cereal he’s poured himself, an apple cut in half (“I couldn’t really do even slices”), the milk sloshing over the sides of the bowl. Oh, and my child is naked.
“Um, Dan?” I ask and elbow my husband to wake up and see the glory of all that’s before him. “How come you’re not wearing clothes?”
Daniel shrugs, spilling more milk over the sides of the cereal bowl. “Because it’s breakfast and bed….and…um…” his honey-colored eyebrows furrow “…well, I was awake and going to get dressed and then I remember that it’s Father’s Day and well, I just went to the kitchen.”
My husband sits up, thanks our second-born and gently prods him to get dressed. Meanwhile, the cereal is soggy, the older brother is annoyed he didn’t think of it first (“I could have at least made eggs instead of gross, mushy cereal”), our daughter Julia starts crying because she feels left out of the “party on mummy and daddy’s bed” and my one-year-old wants to nurse and feel the sticky remains of his dad’s breakfast squish in his fingers. No wonder lots of dads head for the golf course.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with four kids and work both outside and inside the home. But I remind myself daily that there’s a difference between busy and frantic. For my husband, a little extra sleep goes a long way. When he’s awake, rather than the clipped green and sand traps, we spend the day playing in the yard, alternating between rounds of which-sibling-can-annoy-the-other-one-more and “we-love-Dad” which involves simply remembering it’s Father’s Day and suddenly shouting “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!” or “Raise your hand if you love Dad!” Julia runs at her dad full speed ahead, singing as she goes, Will tries to attach himself to his dad’s leg, Jamie gets in on the picture by trying to climb on piggy-back style, and Daniel completes the hug-assault by trying to pick his six-feet tall dad up in the air.
We’ve tried brunches out with marginal success – Will, the youngest wants only to propel himself from any high chair at the moment and Daniel’s patience wears thin waiting for his food order – so tonight we’re celebrating at home, thanking Dad for all that he does: bedtime reading, baseball coaching, ear infection detecting (Dad is a pediatrician), nightmare chasing, chore dictating, bookshelf-fixing, barrette-wearing during “beauty shop”, puzzle mastering, football stat knowing, berry picking even though he hates all berries, piano teaching, cold-day swimming, Beethoven-introducing, big hug-giving, recipe-tasting and, religiously, dishwashing. Tonight, I vow that there won’t be many dishes. And the ones that pile up in the sink, I will scrub. It’s the least I can do, although, come to think of it, I could always serve breakfast in bed, Daniel-style, tomorrow…