By Daniel Dunaief
Many dads don’t plan the same way moms do. Sure, we want what’s best for our kids, and, of course, we think about the present and the future while remaining aware of the past and the lessons it might teach us.
But, many of us have a hunter-gatherer mentality, or now-approach, to life.
Perhaps it’s easiest to illustrate this with a description. For my daughter, waiting for a big party six months away is something she savors. She can contemplate what she needs to do to prepare and keep the bigger goal in mind each week.
If I mention something, like, say, a trip to Yankee Stadium, to my son, he wants it now, now, now, even if it’s the middle of the winter. Something happening in six months might as well be happening in 2020.
When boys become men, many of us keep this view of the world. We see today as an unfolding series of decisions and not a script.
Like women, men follow the schedules we set out for ourselves and, more often than not, for our children. We don’t have the luxury of saying, “I agreed to coach this team, but I feel like taking a canoe ride today.”
The time known as now was often planned weeks and, perhaps, months ago, making it harder to react in the moment. As we grow up, we rarely pursue the impulse to do whatever we want most of the time because what we planned takes precedence.
As a father on Father’s Day, I imagine there are plenty of men out there for whom the greatest gift on the day would be the ability to make a decision in the moment. Feel like having a catch, son? Sure, dad. Feel like taking a jog and looking for deer, turtles and cardinals? Hey, why not? Want to head to The Good Steer for lip-smacking, spectacular onion rings? Definitely!
As Father’s Day approaches, I think about my own dad, who died over a quarter of a century ago. I remember those moments when as a family we walked along a trail in Quebec, stepping carefully through shallow, icy cold water on our way up the huge steps near a waterfall.
I recall those rare moments, which were much more unusual back then than they are today, when my father would put on a mitt and have a catch with us, or when, on vacation, we’d play family baseball.
How do we plan to be spontaneous? When we leave open some time, is there a chance we should be doing something better? And, what if something better, for one or all of us, comes along? Is it selfish to want to hang out, watch an old movie, sway in a hammock, drive to a farm stand to pick berries, or fly a kite?
Yes, I still love to fly kites and no, I’m not good at it. I find something about the way the wind in the moment sends the kite diving and climbing entertaining.
It’s ironic, really. When my father was annoyed, he used to say, “Oh, go fly a kite!” My response, especially on Father’s Day: “Don’t mind if I do.”