As the dad of an 18-month-old, thus far I have exactly one Father’s Day under my belt. It wasn’t easy for me to celebrate, either. You spend decades viewing June’s third Sunday as a celebration for someone else, and then suddenly, you’re the one celebrated? It was almost more surreal than becoming a dad. There was a sense of imposter syndrome that came with it, of fraud. I was still trying to figure out how to do an escape-proof swaddle, so how I could be the honoree of an entire day? Surely I needed to do more to earn it than sing “Baby Shark” in a tired rasp.
Which is why, one year ago, I was unprepared when my wife asked me, “What do you want to do for Father’s Day?” I didn’t have an answer ready. I wanted to say, “Come talk to me next year.”
She gave me a few days to think about it, and then asked me again. As time went on, it was a question I came to dread, along with, “Do you think that actress is pretty?” and “Should we call your parents later?”
Father’s Day isn’t like your birthday, when it’s acceptable to celebrate yourself according to whimsy. Nor is it a day for the whole family, like July Fourth, when you’re thinking of how best to keep everyone fed and occupied. Father’s Day functions in this odd in-between, where dads stay near the family but there’s no pressure on him to please anyone else.
So the question of how to spend the day is a tough one. It’s not like I can ask to relax all day long, as that would leave my wife to wrangle our toddler. The only guilt I want around holidays is the kind related to my waistline, not because I was an absentee parent on a day meant to commemorate good parenting. So what does that leave? The idea of schlepping us all to some event or activity, paying for entry and then chasing down a tiny terror doesn’t sound any different than my usual Sunday. Swapping greeting cards that were hastily purchased from the grocery store doesn’t really qualify as “special.” Neither is giving my father-in-law some computer paper that my kiddo rubbed crayon on. We can tell him that his grandchild made him a card, but come on. My son is just as likely to eat a crayon as use it for artwork.
Anticipating Father’s Day No. 2, I decided to do some research so I could answer my wife’s eternal question. I looked for things that were low-effort, so I wouldn’t need to do extra work later. I found things that were cheap or even free, so that there would be no last-minute fees. I hunted for ideas that could be scheduled out days in advance or that could happen at the drop of the hat. For things that worked for dads and granddads, in case my family saw fit to combine our celebrations. I studied and took notes like I was back in school and one bad grade away from getting kicked off the Lazy Dads sports team, which I envisioned would spend practices grilling and armchair quarterbacking. This is ideal for me, because if there’s one thing I love more than sitting it’s sitting while drinking.
And then it hit me; others might benefit from this list, too. How can I be so selfish when other dads are in the same predicament? So here you go. This is for the fathers who don’t want to put effort into planning their day, for the grandpas hoping for events that can integrate them too, for the spouses who didn’t plan anything ahead of time and for the kids who don’t have the cash to buy their dad that new pair of socks that he definitely is hoping you’ll get him.
This is for you guys. Enjoy.
Free root beer floats for dads and granddads at Matty G’s
You know what I like more than steakburgers and shakes? Free root beer floats with my steakburger and shake. What can I say, I’m a simple guy — and a guy who obviously doesn’t keep kosher. If you’re in the Mesa area on June 16, check out Matty G’s Steakburgers and Shakes. Dads and grandfathers get free root beer floats with purchase of any meal. If my toddler surprised me with a trip here my first thought would be, “I knew I had you for a reason,” and my second would be, “Why is a baby taking me places?” More info: raisingarizonakids.com/venue/matty-gs-steakburgers-spirits
Free flashlight tour for dads at Desert Botanical Garden
Make your way to the Desert Botanical Garden the evening of Saturday, June 15. Dads get in free with purchase of a child’s admission. Because nothing sounds better than chasing down a child at night with nothing but my phone’s flashlight to see by. They say if you’re lucky you can even seen your sanity off in the darkness, but you have to squint quite a bit. More info: dbg.org/media-release/free-flashlight-tour-for-dads-to-celebrate-fathers-day
Museums: free admission for dads and granddads
Both the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and Scottsdale’s Museum of the West have deals going on. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix offers free admission for fathers and grandfathers. Scottsdale’s Museum of the West does the same, but with the added perk that the admission of everyone accompanying dad is half-off. Not every father is a museum guy, so proceed with caution. If yours is the kind who can spend hours reading informative placards and studying exhibits then I recommend dropping him off at the entrance and coming back when the sun sets. More info: childrensmuseumofphoenix.org/events/happy-fathers-day-free-admission-for-dads-3 and scottsdalemuseumwest.org/event/fathers-day-dads-get-in-free
Free concert by Eagles tribute band
People who naturally find themselves at the Railroad Park in Scottsdale on Sundays at 6:45 p.m. don’t need to do anything different, but the rest of you will. Bring some lawn chairs and a cooler so Dad can do what he does best: fall asleep with a drink in hand while sitting down. Hey, that’s actually pretty close to one of my Lazy Dad practices. More info: meetup.com/The-Scottsdale-50-JUST-for-FUN-Meetup-Group/events/261665821/?oc=evam
AZ Air Time offers free admission for dads
Pay for your child’s admission and enjoy free entry, plus a complimentary drink. A fountain drink, of course. Not the other kind. After all, nothing says Father’s Day like sobriety and jumping up and down. More info: phoenix.kidsoutandabout.com/content/dads-jump-free-father’s-day-az-air-time
There you have it. You know your dad better than I do — at least, I hope you do — so pick what best applies to him and your situation. He’ll be floored by your thoughtfulness and I’ll feel good that I was useful for once. And if my wife is reading this, I bet Matty G’s food would keep really well in the car if it were brought to me at home. Ahem. Just mentioning it. JN