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Modern Parenthood

Father's Day is every day with surfer dad and 'adventure time'

Father's Day can be every day because this surfer dad's wife feels the need to 'give Papas back their John Wayne meets Father-Knows-Bestness' and ditch the popular culture mantra that Dads can be loveable but incompetent nitwits. 'Adventure time' is prime evidence of this dad's awesomeness.

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My still boyishly handsome 48-year-old husband with his too-long-to-be-a-professional-adult blond hair, sails small terrifying boats in races come rain, shine, darkness, or leakage. We lived aboard a sailboat with the first two sons and sailed from New Jersey to the Gulf coast of Florida and lived like hippies for five years.

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Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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He rushes out to surf with dolphins that I think are sharks. When there's a hurricane he walks the boys to the river's edge to see the gleam off the teeth of the storm. He hikes, bikes and is the front page designer for a daily newspaper, which I see as the most life-threatening of his passions.

He and our four sons have a love/hate relationship over the outings and yard chores, as is common with strong male personalities all under one roof.

While I razz his methods and their apparent madness, I admit they are worth every drop of sweat wrung from me these past 18 years.

My own parents divorced when I was 10, my brother was 5. My brother was raised in a loving home full of attentive females. My mother commuted to work from New Jersey to New York. At home my grandmother, great-grandmother and I all raised my little brother like a flock of nervous hens.

Last week my brother went to jail for the second time. He went to jail for allegedly beating my 81-year-old  mother. That isn't because of anything my mother and our women did wrong or failed to do. It's what my father did and didn't do that manifested this. It is the example he set. My father taught that women were worthless, but worth hitting in times of frustration.

My husband teaches our sons, "Help your mother" and "Don't speak to your mother in that tone, she's my girlfriend." My boys would protect me like lion kings and I have my husband to thank for setting them on the path to being good men.

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While I realize that could sound like an indictment of single mothers in the world, the truth is that it's an endorsement for good fatherhood. It's a standing ovation for fathers who take time to teach kids to play chess, an instrument, or to do homework. It’s a trophy for dads who spend time with their little girls doing all those same things and teaching them that girls can do anything. It’s the raw genius of letting kids get wet and muddy doing things that make this mom pale.

As I buy more sunscreen, bandages, towels and once again remind my spouse to take his cell and check in with me, I know in my heart that all the worrying means I can relax. The boys are in good hands with their Papa because he's one of those men who knows Father's Day is everyday.


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