Father’s Day remains a pale imitation of an actual holiday.
I think the country agrees with me. Americans spent $14.3 billion on Father’s Day last year, about a third less than what they chipped in for Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation. Only 53% gave a gift to a dad or stepdad, compared to 64% who bought flowers for mom.
Then there’s the fact that Father’s Day came into being codified a half century after Mother’s Day, and it’s celebrated a month later in the calendar. This paean to the Y-chromosome has the whiff of a parenting participation trophy.
Still the day exists. So if you really want to get dad a gift, here’s a suggestion from a tired father of a three-year-old who doesn’t need another tie:
Get him a trip to the barbershop.
A shave and a haircut are a little more than two bits these days. But it’s still inexpensive, easy to arrange, and doesn’t require gift wrapping.
Before my son was born, I expected parenthood to be hard. But the individual tasks of taking care of a child — How do you put on a diaper? How are you supposed to hold a baby? How do you set up a 529 college savings plan? — aren’t that difficult.
Round-the-clock parenting, on the other hand, is simply exhausting.
It’s a never ending series of decisions and compromises and trade-offs. Every car trip or flight with a toddler requires combat-level planning and precision, lest the tyke unravels and cries hysterically until your consciousness oozes away.
Each night out drinking is met with a 6 am wake-up call. Between work and bedtime routines, everyday life with children is a 14-hour grind where you hope to stay awake long enough to watch an hour of television.
If the goal of a gift is to identify a need in the recipient’s life, a $25 or $50 gift card to the neighborhood coiffure should do the trick.
Don’t laugh. For dads, a trip to the barber can be a heavenly experience. Think about it: You get to sit in a comfortable chair in peace and quiet, feet off the ground, reclining, with no one asking you to get them juice.
In fact, no one talks to you and no one expects anything from you. Your only job is to literally sit motionless.
You can close your eyes without fearing that your child is running out into the street or turning on the stove. You can even doze off if you want.
For 45 carefree minutes, you are the center of a tranquil universe where everything around you is on mute.
Plus, you come away looking less scruffy.
Forget ties or a good book. Your dad wants a moment of peace, and a haircut and a shave is the simplest and cheapest bet.