Dear Charlie and Jack,

Today is Father’s Day.

A couple of days ago, I interviewed your Papa on his role as a father to you boys.  Below is our exchange as I remember it.

Me:  So, out of everything you do for our two monsters, what do you feel is the most important?  (I’m sitting on the couch with a mug of decaf coffee while Jack is going through a bucket of Lego pieces looking for his favorite, “guys” with helmets.  It’s 9:30, Charlie has gone to school, and the usual morning rush is slowly calming down.)

Your Papa:  (He’s standing next to the kitchen sink, putting together his turkey sandwich for lunch.)  What do you mean?

Me:  If you had to choose just one thing, one activity that you feel is important, which would it be?

Your Papa:  (He gives it some thought and then finally looks up.)  I don’t know if there’s one thing.  I guess it would have to be my being present.  Like I’m always around for dinner, I do bath time and bed time with them, I’m up in the morning with them.  I think that my being present on a consistent basis creates a stability that allows them to feel secure, which is a very good thing.  That’s why it’s not really just one thing that I do.  It’s being here, whether it’s to play Legos in the morning, cook special breakfast pancakes on Saturdays, read them books before they go to bed…

Mike and CharlieMIke and Jack

Me:  Makes sense.  (Jack offers me a Lego guy with a helmet.  I take it and he toddles away to look for another one.)  Do you look at these kids and think to yourself that yes, they are your kids?

Your Papa:  They both have my nice and round Lynes belly, there’s that.  I do see a lot of myself in Charlie.  Charlie is a lot like me when I was a kid.  I was precocious.  My mom said I used to talk to anyone, I wasn’t shy.  And Charlie looks like me, I can see it in his hair and face (You both have eyelashes that go on for miles and fierce looking cowlicks right on the bangs)(Here I almost remind him that he has once said that Charlie looks 100% Filipino when with his Filipino cousins.  My mind wanders a bit and I wonder, yeah, why is that?  Why does Charlie look more “white”, even to me, when he’s at school?)  With Jack…

 He continues making his turkey sandwich to think some more

Your Papa:  I don’t know if it’s a family trait or if it’s just his personality or what but I see my mom in Jack.  My mom is a very serious person.  She gets things done, she doesn’t fool around.  You don’t mess around with my mom if you know what’s good for you.  I feel like that’s what Jack is like- you don’t mess with Jack.  He’s serious where  Charlie is all about taking short cuts or tricking you.  (We smile at each other as we hear a light switch clicking on and off, each click followed by Jack’s exhaled breath.)  And apparently he has my thing for mechanical stuff, too.  He seems to be hardwired to get satisfaction from pushing buttons and manipulating things.

Me:  So what do you want for Father’s Day?

Your Papa:  Nothing.  Please don’t get me anything.  If you want, you and the boys can make me breakfast.  (I make a face that says, “Anything but that!)   It’s easy enough- you don’t have to make it from scratch, it’s already mixed, just add water and an egg, although honestly, making it from scratch is just as easy.

Me:  Alright, alright.  But do you want to go somewhere?  Do anything special?

Your Papa:  No, we could just stay and have a quiet day.  The boys could paint the rocket.  (He and Charlie have been working on a rocket made of boxes and it’s just about done.)  If you need some time off, you could take a break during the afternoon.

Me:  Oh, thanks.  It’s Father’s day, not Mother’s Day.  Let it not be said that you never get the chance to go on a break.

And here our quiet little moment had to end because he really had to be at work by 10:00.

One of these days, when you’re old enough to read about the work your Papa has done, you’d be in for a surprise.  He is one heck of a bird advocate with a sharp legal mind.   (This is where he works, in case you want to know.   But for now, as far as you’re concerned, he is just your Papa, the one who wakes up at midnight to change Charlie’s pee-wet sheets, the one who is master of the Roku and the X-box, the one who knows all about super heroes and the Force.

You boys don’t know this now so let me write you so that you will:  You are very lucky to have a father who believes that his bliss in life is being a good father to you (and a good partner to me).

Happy Father’s Day!

This is you giving your Papa exactly what he asked for:  a quiet day.  🙂

Mike and the Boys