By The Way: Want a gift on Father’s Day? Be more like mom first
I bought a pair of spectacles on a Father’s Day Super Mega Bumper Sale from a website that were delivered on the eve of the occasion to my house in a suburb of Chandigarh. I was not home. Papa received the package.columns Updated: Jun 17, 2017 23:25 IST
Cool dads are more an exception than the rule. Let’s please accept that, so that this article can progress.
It is Father’s Day on June 18, and it’s going to be quite awkward again. Most of those who will wish their fathers a happy day will get a faux-friendly shrug of the shoulders, maybe a smile, and certainly a surprised ‘thank you’ accompanied by a tone that seems to say, ‘Really? Me? OK, good!’
Thank God for the indifference. Else, it could have started badly for me. I bought a pair of spectacles on a Father’s Day Super Mega Bumper Sale from a website that were delivered on the eve of the occasion to my house in a suburb of Chandigarh. I was not home. Papa received the package. He had already opened the package and wondered why I’d bought them since I do not use spectacles. Now, imagine if he had remembered that it was his day. How would I have ever explained to him that I’d bought these spectacles for myself, and because they were for only ₹59; certainly not because I wanted him to look like Woody Allen!
This brings me to the moot question of the day: Do fathers get less love? Say, less than what mothers get? And who is to blame for it?
We’ll go by our time-tested twin formula to lead to the point: Trust math, follow the West. A report on the BBC website says the amount of money people spend on Father’s Day goes up every year, but trails far behind Mother’s Day. In the US, it says, the average expenditure on gifts per father is expected to be $135 this year, with the total expected to reach $15.5 billion. That’s almost Rs 1,000 billion. And this is less. By contrast, the average spending is $186 on Mother’s Day presents this year in the US, for a total of $23.6 billion. Data for the UK is on similar lines.
That settles the first two questions. But, who is to blame for dads losing out to moms in terms of gifts and, thus obviously, love?
To create journalistic balance, the same BBC report quotes Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, who says that today’s fathers have a “more emotional” relationship with their children than past generations, and it is “a whole lot easier to buy presents for him, because his kids know him on a deeper level”.
Let’s be honest here. Those who actually know which colours their dads like, please raise your right hands. You guys are weird.
Here’s my theory: The dads bring it upon themselves, because, for some reason, they try hard for their kids to idolise them or simply hate them.
In our social set-up, dads find it hard to get over their Provider Complex, wherein they behave like the hunter-gatherer who is always weighed down by the responsibility of feeding the offspring who have been birthed by a woman whom he loves or is supposed to love. Even the cool dads who do the dishes and take the kids to school and attend couple-kitties and do other such stuff, especially on Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, continue to suffer from that complex. Those TV ads showing Dad helping Mom in putting the clothes out to dry actually do little to change that. Working moms are champs, because working dads are the normal.
Now, before they start asking for as many gifts as moms get, let them also do what moms do. We are no longer in a jungle. Show your emotions, and let us show them to you. Else, what’s the point of having a day for frowning men who smile occasionally to shrug and say, “We don’t do this gift thing anyway; give them to mummy!” Fine, that’s what we’ll do then.
Writer tweets at @aarishc