For me it’s all about crisps.
If, on a New Year’s Eve, I find myself standing by a jauntily dressed trestle table, scoffing a lifetime’s supply of crisps, I know something has gone awry.
New Year’s Eve is supposed to be the one night of the year where EVERYBODY and I do mean EVERYBODY is having a good time. It’s practically against the law not to enjoy yourself. And, it’s true to say, that many people do have a great night on December 31st.
The thing is, I’m not usually one of them.
There’s something deep within me that resents being told what to do. The idea of enforced anything, even if it’s fun, really annoys me. It makes me want to rebel. Surely fun is organic. It has an X Factor (unlike The X Factor) which is indefinable. Fun just happens. It can’t be timetabled. It doesn’t turn up promptly for a pre-arranged duration. Fun is fashionably late and does things in its own good time.
Which is probably why I usually find myself not having a good time on New Year’s Eve - hence the standing in the corner eating crisps. Crisps, unlike enforced fun, are welcome at any party.
It’s the same, in my view, with Father’s Day.
“It’s Father’s Day! Hey everyone, it’s Father’s Day,” they shriek across the land. “The day to have a perfect family day centred around your dad.”
WHAT A RECIPE FOR DISASTER!
There is nothing more likely to turn a family day into total chaos than the looming threat that you all must be on your best behaviour and have a ‘good time’.
Kids can sense it in the air - I’m sure of it. Like dogs, who (supposedly) can sense fear - kids in my view are preternaturally able to pick up on days when it wouldn’t be politically inexpedient to play up. These are the moments where they turn into little nightmares.
Father’s Days are guaranteed to be filled with screaming, fights, tears and tantrums - and that’s just the parents. Why? Because they’re a ‘special day’ and nothing ever goes smoothly on a special day!
The pressure starts to build around Wednesday.
“It’s Father’s Day on Sunday. So we’re all going to be good. You’re going to be good aren’t you? No naughtiness!”
By the time that Sunday arrives, a torrent of suppressed naughtiness is unleashed from the kids. It mixes with tiredness and frustration from the adults and the day is ‘ruined’.
Only, it’s not ruined really. It’s just another day.
It’s only ‘ruined’ if we allow ourselves to buy into the myth that Father’s Day should be different from any other.
These so-called ‘special’ family days, in my view, aren’t special at all.
Because they stop families acting like families. They put everyone on their ‘best behaviour’ - and that’s no fun at all - just like a New Year’s Eve party.
Let’s tell our kids to just be themselves this Father’s Day. Let’s let partners, wives and husbands relax. Just being with their family makes any day special for a dad. We don’t want a sanitised version of our relatives - but the real thing - warts and all.
Enjoy your Sunday this week dads. But enjoy your Saturday and your Monday, too!
If everything gets too full-on, I’ll see you by the crisps. Just leave the Cheese and Onion alone, they’re mine.