The latest Father’s Day was a reminder to me of the need to be flexible and enjoy what comes your way. My plans didn’t go as I had envisioned, but fretting about it would have caused more worry than productivity, and I would have missed some great moments.
At our house Father’s Day starts on Saturday with a trip to the annual Stone Arch Bridge Festival. I’m not usually a big fan of such events, but I’ve always enjoyed this one. The combination of people-watching, food, great works of art and general relaxation appeals to me each year.
The day started slowly as my wife had worked until after midnight. Would she join the kids and me at the festival? Should we wait for her or head in and let her enjoy a quiet house? We decided to wait for her to wake up, which turned out to be a mistake; she would have preferred the quiet house. We apologized, but it was also clear that we had waited because we hoped we would all get to spend a family day together. She appreciated the thought, if not the outcome. Of course, in waiting for my wife, I guaranteed that we would arrive at the worst time – late enough for all parking within ten blocks of the festival to be taken, but not early enough for anyone to be pulling out and giving me their spot. The result: a walk through a picturesque neighborhood having a fun conversation with my nine-year-old twins about the gardens and homes we passed. Normally they would have complained the entire way, but they’ve reached the age where ten blocks has become an exploration rather than a chore.
Once we reached the festival, the kids had one thing on their mind: ICE CREAM! Every year we visit the ice cream stand at the end of the Stone Arch Bridge, and that is probably the only reason they come with me. I was firm though; we were going to look at artwork and get some healthy food before dessert. Again, in the past this would have produced complaints, but this time it presented a chance for my kids to pick out their favorite dogs in the crowd. My daughter searched for a gift for my wife, but not for one for me on Father’s Day. I didn’t mind though; again, insisting that everything be “just right” would have made it all wrong. In the end, we enjoyed our lunches, got our ice cream, had a great bonding time, returned to my wife who was in a good mood, and generally had a great day. Accepting what came rather than focusing on what didn’t worked, at least for that day.
(In case you’re wondering how my actual Father’s Day went, I caught a cold, took two naps and generally sat motionless on Sunday.)
This article originally appeared in “The Alley,” the newspaper for the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.