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Planning For Next Father’s Day Or Rushing For This One

Dads are easy. We have to be, considering how much we’re getting shorted in the national holiday of appreciation competition.

Father’s Day didn’t exist until 1909, when the daughter of a single father from Seattle came up with the idea. Wasn’t until Richard Nixon set aside the third Sunday in June in 1972 that it became a national holiday. And this is America? Probably one reason for it. I mean, we celebrate the Founding Fathers every July and the vast conspiracy of Moms felt that was enough.

 In 2011, Dads who received a gift averaged $106.49, which was a nice jump from 2010, when dads only saw gifts worth $94.72, but still not a patch on moms, who averaged $140.73. In 2012, dads only raked in $117.14, while moms bumped up to $152.

“His gifts usually range from a simple tie for work to a new spatula for the grill—all of which can make dad very happy.”

 Mother’s Day gifts, by contrast, tend to be more luxurious than Father’s Day presents—jewels, flowers, a trip to the spa, or dinner at a restaurant, for example.

The most popular gift was a card, and, even then, dads lag behind behind Moms, lovers on Valentine’s Day and people trying to kiss up to Santa on Christmas.

Which is exactly what I thought was happening when my youngest little dude referred to me as a superhero. I swelled with pride. And then he told me my superhero name” the Wondrous Wallet, because I’m the one who gives him the money. He’s having a birthday on June 13 and wants to go paintballing. I’m allowed to go with him, but can’t participate, must only be there in my superhero guise. Who, in addition to being free with the money, is mostly invisible.

The number one reason why Father’s Day doesn’t get as much attention is because it happens during summer break for schools. Moms get the attention of the child in school, teachers who, in elementary school are most likely moms themselves, and have their classes make something for mom.

Moms rake it in because, just like Valentine’s Day, there is an entire industry based around the idea that not getting the mom in your life an expensive, amazing gift is tantamount to saying, “I hate you. You’re worthless, now go get into the kitchen and make me a sammich.”

But, enough whining. Although, if you’ve been around me for more than three minutes, I think you’ll realize whining is what I do. Anyway, enough of it for now. Let’s talk about ways to make dad feel loved on this special third Saturday in June. See if we can’t make up for the appalling $30 gap in gifts.

  1. Move Father’s Day a week back to June 22. That way he can go to Heroes Con, one of the largest comic book, pop-culture conventions in the country. Once there, Dad can mix and mingle with the other super heroes in his guise as the . . . Wondrous Wallet!
  2. You know that tie you’re going to give Dad? You remember: the one that looks suspiciously like the same boring tie you gave him last year? Yeah, that one. Ditch it. Use it to hogtie a, well, a hog. Ties are the dead, bloated skunk on the side of the road that somehow gets into the space under the driver’s seat on a hot summer day and then stay undiscovered for months of gifts.Ties stink, is what I’m trying to say. If it’s too late, if you’ve already purchased one, then do something useful with it, like maybe burning it. Or maybe Mom can give Dad a tie in one of those shades of gray I’ve been hearing about.
  3. I’m different in that I was lucky enough to stay home with my sons and be the primary caregiver, but I know a lot of my fellow dads weren’t that lucky. One of the greatest gifts you can give us (even dads like me who sometimes begin twitching uncontrollably when certain words like (shudder) art project are used in our hearing) is time. Make a date with Dad. Go to the movies. Go out to eat at a restaurant that takes more than seven minutes to serve your food.
  4. Every once in a while the universe demonstrates that I might actually have done a good job with the young dudes. I asked middle son, Zippy the College Boy, what he would do to make dad feel loved and he said, “I’d go to his amazon.com wish list and get him something. Every man has a wish list. It just doesn’t have to be written down.” Of course, that could be just me. But if it’s not, remember that going to smile.amazon.com and buying stuff will lead to amazon.com donating 0.5 % of the purchase plus $5 to the charity of your choice.
  5. Robert L. Brown is a cab driver in Washington, DC. He gave Zippy the College Boy and me a ride over the weekend. During the scariest cab ride of my life, during which I clutched Zippy the College Boy to my chest and prayed for mercy, Mr. Brown told us his idea of perfect parent gifts. He suggested giving three inexpensive gifts. Always and only three gifts. Each gift stood for a single word. I. Love. You. It didn’t matter what the gifts were, but just to let him know “I love you.”
  6. Take dad out for a day of paint ball. Because nothing says I love you quite like sneaking quietly up through the bush, parting the tall grass with the barrel of your gun and firing until your gun runs dry, blasting enough paint to cover a four-story mansion in two coats of paint and leaping joyously into the air while doing the dance of victory over the thoroughly broken. . . erm. Uh. So I’ve heard. I don’t even play paintball and you can’t prove differently.
  7.   Take dad out to the movies. Kids, let dad pick the movie and I can guarantee you’ll enjoy it. You ladies might not know this, but I think you’ll be surprised to know just how very similar a dad’s taste in movies is to that of a 12-year-old boy. You’re on the same wavelength, kids.
  8. Don’t buy dad a card. Seriously. Just get a piece of paper, fold it in half and then write something nice on it. Or even draw something. It doesn’t have to be good art, but just knowing you spent time thinking of dad, and did something you thought would be cool for dad is an amazing gift.
  9. Give the wallet back. Don’t look at me like that. You know what wallet. I’m just going to close my eyes for one minute and, when I open them, I expect to have the wallet right here on the table.
  10. Fly fishing, golf, bike ride, football game baseball game. All at once. But make sure you sell the TV rights first because I think golfish riding basefoot games are going to be huge.
  11. Hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.

I keep telling my young dudes and my loving wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Getting Better Looking By The Day, that I don’t actually want stuff for Father’s Day.

Spend time with me, I tell them. Although I mean time quite differently when I’m talking to my blushing bride than I do when I’m talking to the young dudes.

It’s time and love and hugs, dudes. That’s really what we all want. I mean, nobody wants to reenact their own version of “Cat’s In The Cradle,” do they?

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Parents Talking To Teachers Talking To Parents

Parents and teachers want what’s best for their students.

The problem comes in when we try to define best.

Is it happy and adored by all around him? Or is it buckling down and applying herself?

This lack of specificity simply showcases how vast can become the chasm between parents and teachers when no one can communicate effectively. Which is where the New York Times‘ parenting and moming blog, The Motherlode, comes in. The blog ran a couple of columns last month about what parents want teachers to know and what teachers want parents to know. Not I’m bringing them all together so you can know.

The first thing teachers want parents to know is that their children are more capable than most parents think.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, your children do not need your help tying shoes, zipping jackets, sharpening pencils, packing their backpacks and lunch, or any of the million other tasks they expect you to do for them every day.

In addition, it’s all right to pause a while before giving feedback to your child. Let the little dude figure out on his own if he did something right or wrong. He’s going to need to rely on himself eventually, so help him start out right.

I’ve said before that kids lie. A lot. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Teachers are offering to not believe the little dudette about everything that happens at home, if you parents won’t believe everything she says happens in class.

When your child comes home and claims that the teacher screamed and yelled at him in front of the entire class for his low test score, try to give his teacher the benefit of the doubt until you’ve had a chance to talk to the teacher about it.

These last two seem to go together. Teachers want to remind parents that children learn from what parents do more than what they say. Parents also need to show that making a mistake isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are willing to try new things and recognize it might take a while to get better at them.

On the other hand, parents have a few words for the teachers as well.

For starters, parents want teachers to tell the truth. I know it goes against everything teachers learn about dealing with parents, but we (and I include myself in here most definitely) want to know what you really think of our kid, what he’s really doing in class, how he really fares during lessons. Don’t sugar-coat it. Tell us how it is, then we can work together to help our little dudette achieve.

Here’s something most kids will complain about: Homework. In this case, though, these parents have a good point. A lot of times, teachers seem to forget that they’re not the only one assigning homework to the young dudes.

If parents get home at 6 with their kids, and homework requires a half-hour of whining, hand-holding, cajoling and general disruption to the family peace, that seemingly quick and easy 20 minutes of homework in a third-grader’s folder or an hour in a seventh-grader’s backpack robs the entire family of time together, dinner in a relaxed setting and a calm bedtime.

Finally, this last point goes hand in glove with the previous point. Parents would like teachers to keep in mind the big picture. Understand that students are taking classes in more than just your subject so talk to the other grade-level teachers before handing out that massive assignment that’s due on the same day as the term paper and the math exam.

You’d think that parents and teachers would understand the importance of communication, considering that’s basically what each must do with the kids every day. Still, it doesn’t hurt to undergo a bit of a refresher every now and then to make sure we’re all on the same page.

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Teachers Talking To Parents For You

The best teachers always say that learn just as much from their students as their students do from them.

Which must make it all the more frustrating when they realize that most of the parents, who also are teaching those students, are working on a whole different curriculum.

Obtuse enough?

The New York Times’ parenting and moming blog, The Motherlode, had an interesting article a while back about what teachers want to talk to parents about when it comes to the students. Teachers talking to parents would seem to be an automatic, but it’s not necessarily so.

I realize that to most of you this does not come as a surprise (but you might be surprised by how many people are going to be gobsmacked by the following fact), but students learn from teachers and parents at the same time. Despite what we parents might thing when we’re asking for the seventeenth time for our young dude to take out the garbage, the young ‘uns watch us like hawks and learn by watching what we do. We are teaching them all the time.The apple didn't fall far from the old block.

The best learning takes place when teachers and parents are working together to help the young dude or dudette discover the learner within. When parents and teachers are working at cross purposes, that does not happen. Sadly.

When parents don’t stress the importance of education, their young dudes and dudettes won’t think it matters all that much if they pay attention in class, or show respect to the teacher, or do their homework. And that, dudes, is bad news if we want kids to learn and progress during their education.

Don’t even get me started about the time I was subbing in a middle school for a week straight in the same class. I told the class all week that there would be a test on Thursday. One student missed the test on Thursday and returned to class on Friday. She had a note from her mom saying the student should be excused and allowed to take the test on her own time because Mom felt her daughter needed to go shopping on Thursday. Which taught that young lady exactly the wrong thing about education.

Teachers talking to parents can be stressful because both parties often have different starting points and, oddly, different goals.

See, parents want their kids to be loved for the very special little apples they really are. Teachers want the kids to be enthusiastic about learning, apply themselves, and progress cooperatively through the lessons.

You’d think those two paths would end up being parallel, but that’s often not the case. A loving parent who just knows his young dude is a special apple is going to find it hard to believe when his teacher says the student is disrupting the class or loudly telling everyone it doesn’t matter if they pass the test.

All of which can make for a difficult situation when parents and teachers have to work together for the betterment of the young dudes and dudettes in class.

So, as a public service, I thought I’d aggregate a couple of good bits of dialogue in which teachers talk to parents for you all to peruse.

Not now, of course. But come back tomorrow and we’ll talk a bit more.

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