Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Gift for Dear Old Dad

I think that whomever brought over Father's Day to Japan probably left something out when translating it. Now, admittedly, I'm a bit fuzzy on the concept myself. My father died when I was very young and my mother didn't remarry until I was in my teens. For a number of years then, Father's Day was kinda a wash. The stuff made in school was changed a bit for my grandfather and sent off to him, but he lived 5 hours away and I only got to see him a couple times a year. The concept of a day for doing something nice for dad then was something I really didn't get into.

With the arrival of my sons, I thought that maybe I could make up for lost time a bit, or at least Beloved would have some notion of how to treat the day having given things to her own father. Then I learned the truth about the day in Japan and about Beloved. Beloved of course is a remarkable, highly intelligent, competent, and organized woman. She keeps the calendar for the house, both online and paper version. She can tell me when the kids need to do something, when they last did something, and all sorts of facts about them that I don't usually bother keeping up with, like clothing sizes (In my defense, I admit that part of this is the ongoing war between Beloved and I about the geeking out of our boys, so I'm no longer allowed to buy them clothes without prior approval). She has a particular blind-spot however, while she can recall important events like weddings and teaching days, she misses birthdays and gift-giving holidays.

Part of it is no doubt cultural as she doesn't want to seem forward about asking for things (Being selfish is a bad trait in Japan), and part of it is because Beloved has no wish to be reminded that the years are advancing so why should she remember when anyone else was born?

The other problem is Japan itself. Father's Day seems to be Mother's Day Part II. Instead of seeing fathers being celebrated and given a day to relax and enjoy themselves, that date in June will usually see fathers dragging their offspring out to do something fun for the family at their wive's insistence. So moms get a break, dads have to work more, not less. Now I'm sure that given Japan's notorious workweek where fathers do not get a chance to see their child too much, many of them are happy to have a day to spend with their children, but I still feel that perhaps something has gotten lost here somewhere seeing dads loaded down with equipment for a picnic or sports and with kids strapped onto their backs, or in strollers, or running around them at various parks while mothers stroll along.

Now for the first couple of years, I didn't expect much. I mean, the boys being too young to understand Father's Day, it was enough to see them grow and develop. But this year, well, Makoto started to get the idea that there was a Mommy's Day and that meant we had to do something nice for Mommy (He wrote a card himself for her, he also attempted to convince her that what she REALLY wanted was some Kamen Rider Fourze switches) so that got me thinking, what would I like for Father's Day?

Now please note that this is MY list, not a "This is what to get your dad/guy for father's day". I'm sure there are actual fathers out there who would love something golf related, just because I belong to the club of "Golf is a good walk spoiled" doesn't mean everyone else is.

1. Books, and time to read them.
You see these? They need to be filled.
 I love me my books. I love my Kindle. I'd love to have even MORE books to add to my list. There's a reason why I insisted on so many bookshelves for my office, they need to be filled. The empty space is a tragedy after all. Even better would be some time just to read for a bit, currently even time I attempt to read outside of bedtime (Which has its own problems), I end up with one or two boys in my lap demanding that I read them one of their books (Or in Hikaru's case, that he be allowed to eat mine).

2. Movies, and some time to watch them.
I've heard this is awesome...
So I've heard that this Avengers movie is great and a must see. Sadly, it doesn't come out in Japan until August. That's actually not a BAD thing as I'm behind on a number of the sources for it... pretty much the only thing I have seen in Iron Man 1. There's a whole host of films I'd like to rent and see. The problem being that I have to fight to get access to the TV (Beloved is a Japanese TV junkie and the boys of course want to watch Thomas/Cars/Anpanman), and some of them, like Game of Thrones, is not exactly family fare (I so do not want to have to have a conversation with Makoto that starts with "When a mommy and a daddy, who happen to be brother and sister, love each other very much...).

3. A date with my beloved wife.
You see this butt? I'd like to date the woman attached to it again.
It's been a while. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my sons to death, but it has been quite some time since my wife and I enjoyed a dinner together that wasn't punctuated with "Daddy! You know Lightning McQueen? He's very fast!" or Hikaru's attempts to steal more food. While it's Father's Day, I think I'd like to drop the title of daddy for a few and just be a husband again, it'd help remind me how I ended up as daddy in the first place.

4. A tie.
Really, who WOULDN'T want one of these?
No, really. I have to wear the damn things to school and look all teacher'ish and stuff, but I want my kind of tie. Get me something Goofy. Get me something Geeky. Get me something that I can wear and snicker that I might be the only one getting the joke.

5. Something from the boys.
Kid art makes dads gooy inside too!
Makoto wrote a Mother's Day card, his first this year. Hikaru's idea of a gift would probably be some of his own food. But... and it might be slightly unmanly of me to mention, one of my most treasured possessions is a bit of Father's Day artwork from Makoto that he made me two years ago. Daddies get all gooy inside too when presented with something from their offspring.

6. Something for the boys.
Let's go have some fun.
Maybe I have been in Japan too long, but... I'm kinda hoping for another year pass to a local national park where I can take my sons for the day and have a guys' day out. I get a chance to play with my sons, Beloved gets a break, and the boys can run around like the young monkeys they are without constantly getting called back to get their hands, mouths, faces, etc. cleaned. But I wouldn't say no to orders to go take them fishing, or to a zoo, or places like that.

I'll even carry the kids and all the supplies.

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