So it’s Father’s Day (anybody ever wonder about that apostrophe placement choice?), in France and in the United States. I was a little confused because of the two-week difference in Mother’s Days between here and the U.S., so when Paul was asking me all week about what color tie I thought his Papa would like, I didn’t realize I should have been thinking about my own father’s neckwear as well.
I guess I don’t usually give much thought to Father’s and Mother’s Days – they just seem like more of those endless days of appreciation. Secretary’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, America’s Kid’s Day, and Grandparents Day all fall on the list of days that force us to mindlessly appreciate. Mom and dad, thanks for not leaving me out with the wolves. Grandma and Grandpa, thanks for not leaving my mom out with the wolves. Secretaries, thanks for not leaving those important faxes out with the wolves. Every year the days come around, and every year we take our moms out to brunch or make books of coupons for our dads, promising batches of cookies and foot massages.
It wasn’t until this year that I found myself really thinking about what it means to celebrate my own father (and mother, but this is a Father’s Day tribute). I mean, he’s this guy whose jokes make my brothers and I groan, whose “unconscious” slips into an “Irish” accent make us cringe and whose Black Bean Cassoulet and Carrot-Orange Soup are famed throughout North Tacoma. We love him, of course, and we are grateful not to have ended up as wolf bait – but he’s always been 100 percent there for us. A good thing, of course, but we’ve been conditioned to expect it, and somewhere along the way totally forgot to thank him for making us crêpes, coming to our school band concerts and bragging to all his coworkers about his amazing children.
It happens to everyone, I think, but not everyone has the chance to find herself half a world away and realize how much she has come to rely on that constant presence in her life. I’m 21 years old, living completely on my own in Paris, in an apartment that I earn through nannying – in theory, totally independent from my parents. Except that I’m not, and I’m not sure I ever will or want to be. As long as it takes most kids to admit it, parents are smart – as old and weird as they seem to us growing up, they’ve been around the block and actually have the experience to back up all that advice we hate to receive.
When I return to Seattle at the end of this summer, it will be to start my senior year at the University of Washington. I’m going home to work for a month, look for an apartment and start planning my real life. I’ve started applying for internships for next year and the summer after that will hopefully lead me to the career I’m aiming for (journalism), and I’m at the point where I guess I’ve “left the nest.” The farther away from home I get though, the more I realize that my dad is just dang useful. He helped me through a crisis with the family that employs me, he’s corrected my blog entries, he helped me brainstorm arguments for exposés that I gave at Sciences Po and he helped me update my résumé.
Last Monday I sent him a frantic email at work saying, Dad, help me!! I don’t know how to write a cover letter!! While I was waiting on his response, I looked up sample cover letters – which is probably what I should have done in the first place, and I did find a very useful website, but I still sat by my computer waiting for an email from my dad before I started writing anything.
I try to picture myself in 10 years, working as a journalist, supporting myself and my own family and giving advice to my own kids (okay, maybe 20 years), but I still can’t picture the day when I’m going to stop wanting advice from my own dad. That’s what he’s there for though – and actually having a dad who is always there, ready and (sometimes far too) willing to give advice is a rarer and much more valuable resource than I ever realized.
So Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there – but especially my own. Thank you. I do appreciate you – though the wolves you deprived of their dinner might not feel quite so fondly.