I meant to write this little story up a couple of weeks ago.
Its Father’s Day and I walk into the kitchen, bleary-eyed and wishing someone had put a pot of coffee on already. My dad stands there, smiling at me.
Dad I say: its a funny thing being a son. You grow up wanting to be your dad, not just wanting to be like him, but to be him. You want to walk, talk and think like him. For years this feeling fills you up. Then one day, probably in your early teens, something happens, a switch flips and you no longer do; you want to be different from your dad now. You want to put some distance between what he is, and what you’re going to become. You don’t want to be like your dad. He’s not so great. But then of course the final stage happens years later, when you turn around and look, not at your dad, but at yourself – oh you realise, with a shrug – I’m just like my dad, after all. I sound like him, talk like him, think like him. I guess that’s being a son.
So my dad stands there looking at me for a few seconds, quizzical-like, then slowly raises a Governor eyebrow (that gesture, based on physiognomy I certainly inherited), and says… yeah that’s right. It’s a funny thing being a dad. You have a kid, and you want him to be different from you, to be smarter than you, faster than you, better than you. You spend your time trying to teach him to be a better person. You put everything into parenthood. You want your son to be different – smarter, better-mannered, richer and so on. Then one day you turn around and you realise something… that is, your son is just like you. All that effort and he turned out just like you. That’s being a dad.
It was a lovely exchange, sardonic enough but not too much. I hugged my dad for a long time after that.