It’s your day, Dad!
Well, technically, Sunday is your day. It’s also the day “Game of Thrones” airs so, well. . . You understand if we make this quick, right?
Anyway. We stopped at the drugstore two minutes before we got here, and we just couldn’t find a card that could express everything we want to say.
Yes, we did wait too long to buy one. Mom was right. It was the dregs, basically.
So, here’s a card with a poop emoji on it. Happy Father’s Day!
For evidence of the truly awkward relationship we have with our fathers, just visit a greeting card aisle in June, when the heartfelt messages we send Mom have vanished, replaced by Dad Cards.
Dad Cards are like dads themselves. Entertaining. Short on words. Scatological. And maybe a little emotionally stunted.
“You are a hard worker,” they say.
Thank you for mowing the lawn and changing the lightbulbs all these years.
Can I get a fist bump?
Go on, Dad. Take your pick. But what you’re not going to get on Father’s Day is a flowery pronouncement of love.
“Obviously we’re talking about cliches and stereotypes, because that’s where we find humor,” explains Duncan Mitchell, co-founder of Someecards, an online greeting card and humor site. So on Father’s Day, we recognize Dad as “the lumbering oaf, the person who gets things wrong, the person who doesn’t know how things work.”
A lot of these tropes “aren’t even true anymore,” Mitchell concedes, “but they still resonate.”
In the greeting card industry, there’s a fine line between funny and cruel, says Mitchell. We would never mock Mom’s weight.
Dad’s? Heck, yeah.
“There’s something about Dad,” says Mitchell. “What’s funny is a lot broader than with other people.”
Happy Father’s Day to a dad who will go back to being wrong about everything tomorrow.
We’d never treat Mom this way.
Card companies sell 133 million Mother’s Day cards annually, 40 million more than for Father’s Day.
We even began honoring mothers first.
President Woodrow Wilson established Mother’s Day as a national holiday in 1914, when he signed off on a bill that reserved a day in May for honoring “that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.”
Father’s Day? In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge unofficially backed the notion of celebrating men, but mostly “to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”
It was another four decades before President Lyndon Johnson finally gave Father’s Day a designated spot on the calendar, making the third Sunday in June the annual reminder to dads to pick up your child once in a while and, you know, rock him to and fro.
And it became our annual reminder to say, “No need to take out the trash today, Dad. And oh, here’s a Dad Card.”
It’s your day. Ready. Set. Recline.
Does this feel awkward to you, Dad? Because it feels awkward to us.
Want to go to Home Depot instead?
Okay, we’ll continue.
There are kernels of truth in stereotypes. Dad can be emotion-averse, preferring to hide his true feelings, even behind sunglasses on the day of his child’s graduation, the way President Obama did recently at Malia’s commencement ceremony.
Dads do have their own unique way of text-messaging. Seriously, you don’t have to sign each and every text “Dad,” Dad. (Mom, you can absolutely keep signing all your texts “Love mom.” It is adorable. Never change.)
“It’s not that we aren’t as emotional. It’s that we aren’t expressive with our emotions,” jokes Dan Zevin, a humorist who has written about fatherhood in his book “Dan Gets a Minivan.” “If you asked 10 guys to tell you when Father’s Day is, 9 out of 10 would not know.”
Anyway, Zevin says, society has come to view Mother’s Day as “Mom’s day off,” a break from the year-round grind of rearing kids. But we see Father’s Day as the day we rope our fathers into spending time with us. It’s “all-Dad, all-day,” he says.
Dad Cards reinforce the idea. Today is all about you, Dad.
But hey, here’s a bombshell: Until the early 20th century, it was the father who cared for the children, toting even the youngest of his brood with him to work on the farm as extra labor, says Paul Raeburn, author of “Do Fathers Matter?” As the service economy developed and men moved into offices, the little ones were left at home, and mothers adapted to a new role as primary caregiver.
“We had this notion by the ’60s that mothers were more important for kids,” Raeburn says.
Now the pendulum has swung again. The changing economy has contributed to the rise of stay-at-home fathers and new divisions in parenting roles.
“A lot of us have had to step up to the plate, and were there role models for that? No. We don’t know what the hell we’re doing,” says Zevin. “But guess what? No new parent knows what they’re doing, not moms or dads.”
Still, the image of the absentee, distant or inept father lingers, embossed into our Father’s Day cards for generations, although Raeburn hopes they’ll catch up to the new realities of fatherhood one day.
Until then, Dad: Happy farter’s day.