by Chris Soanes
Well, in the times we find ourselves asking said question, year after year, we have to ask ourselves what really matters to a father?
Certainly, based upon my choice of gifts for my dad, the answer would be: a Dairy Milk chocolate bar (if purchased before the age of 18) or a bottle or Irish Whisky (if purchased after the age of 18). My dad always seemed pretty content with that to be honest, after all, for him, it literally was the thought that counts. As a dad now myself, here’s a list of items that I think a dad would appreciate on this day.
1) Well envisioned but - let’s face it - poorly executed artwork
It’s a free gift but, as mentioned above, sometimes it really is the thought that counts. If you’re struggling for art resources with the MCO, perhaps download an art app on your phone or iPad and give your child(ren) a few minutes to create a piece of artwork for a surprise Father's Day email.
As a dad to a 15 month-old son, I’ve had the pleasure of having one father's day already. To be honest, I genuinely can’t remember what I was given; let’s put that down to sleep deprivation. (Apologies to my wife for this admission, however, having recently responded to our friends’ wedding invitation, telling my wife the date, putting the date in our Google Calendar and still managing to commit the social faux pas of asking our friends if they had any wedding dates in mind when we last spoke on Zoom, my poor memory has some precedent at the moment.)
2) A lie in / nap
Yes, it’s free again, but it can make a huge difference to a day. Sleep is also scientifically proven to improve the memory. I know this was listed in the Mother’s Day article, but any parent craves the luxury of interrupted sleep.
Similar to the second, time is often something we ask for more of. Maybe this has been less of an issue during the recent MCO, but there is always something left on the list. Perhaps, ask the question: What would you like a little time to do? It might be time in lieu to go for a future drink with a friend, socially distanced of course. Or, it might be just time as a family doing something enjoyable. Take the cushions of the sofa to a build a fort, take an air-purifier apart with your son to find the dried up piece of pasta he put in there (weirdly specific, but a true story) - whatever floats your boat.
If you’re looking to actually buy something, like-father-like-son, I honestly can’t think of anything material that I really desire. I’m lucky to feel as though I have everything I need, but if you want to celebrate Father's Day with something here's a few ideas...
4) A photo (perhaps wallet sized)
A few weeks ago, I was searching for an extra ringgit or so to pay for my groceries and I found what I thought was an emergency 20RM in the inside of my wallet. It wasn’t 20RM. It was a picture of my wife and I taken on a Polaroid camera. Though it wasn’t cash, it put a smile on my face all the same, and always does each time I do exactly the same thing.
How long ago was it that you printed a picture of your family on real paper? If it’s less than 6 months then well done you! Of course, we need to have environmental considerations but one or two well chosen printed pics is definitely worth it for me.
5) An offer of a new wallet
Notice I write ‘offer’. It might just be me, but I’ve always been quite particular about my wallets. They have to have just the right number of spaces for my cards, a space for my coins that won’t just strew coins across the shop when I open the wallet, it must have a fastening so it doesn’t open whilst taking it out of my pocket (see previous point). I could go on; I won’t. When you own a new wallet though it feels great, so that’s my first ‘material’ suggestion for father’s day.
6) Nice bottle of shower gel or a nice, eco-friendly soap bar
If most dads are like me, they will probably permanently have a bottle of aftershave, or two, in the cupboard from a Christmas past (or Hari Raya, birthday, or any other celebration you can think of). In the 21st Century though, fathers are afforded more ways of smelling good. I, personally, appreciate having a bottle of nice shower gel or a high-quality soap bar ready to use for a special occasion, when the ‘Nivia 3-in-1 Cool shower gel’ just doesn’t cut it.
7) A charity donation
Going back to the immaterial for a second (kind of). When my siblings and I asked my dad what he wanted for his recent birthday he asked us to donate some money to charity. It’s a nice way to give someone a warm glow if you’re not sure if they actually ‘want’ anything.
8) Don’t reinvent the wheel - just do something that’s worked before
I find, most memories are kept with a positive tint to them. So why not have a think back about what has worked previously, either before or after parenthood? Watch a good film again. Listen to an old album again and maybe dance. Make that breakfast burrito you always used to make but never have the time anymore. (Disclaimer: I’ve never made a breakfast burrito.) Point being: think about what’s worked before, it will probably work again.
9) Don’t say the ‘C’ word
And a bonus point: don’t say the ‘C’ word for the day (coronavirus). Yes, it’s scary, but there is more to life than worrying about life, right?
Sometimes the best gifts in life really are free. Take that bit of time to appreciate one another on Father's Day and maybe revisit something that's worked before. If you're going to buy anything, maybe think of something a father would use every day but you'd rarely even think about it. And if that all seems a bit wishy-washy, just buy his favourite snack!
Chris Soanes is a primary school teacher of six years. He has lived in Kuala Lumpur for three years and has loved travelling around the country. He has taken this year 'off' to be a stay-at-home dad to his 16-month-old son Ted, previously teaching at Garden International School. He is returning to his home country - the UK - in July to resume his employment as a class teacher.