Father’s Day: not just about chromosomes

Cameron came home from daycare on Friday with an art creation, in two parts. “This is for Grandpa,” he waved one part, “And this is for Grandpa Bill.” I really appreciated how careful the daycare was about Father’s day, making sure that Cameron didn’t feel left out when the other kids were making gifts for their fathers.

“So do you just ignore the day,” I was asked by someone else, who has a vague idea of the situation. “With Cameron not having a father in his life, and all?”

The thing is, Cameron does have a father in his life – more than one. Many. They just aren’t his.  Father’s day isn’t about chromosomal descent, it’s about the person, their actions, their … father-ness. Cameron has plenty of people in his life who teach him by example what a father is, and even better, what makes a father a great daddy.

He has a Grandpa, my Dad, who connects with Cameron over trains and planes, fun outside, and generally experiencing life. He’s got a closet half full of things to show and share with Cameron in years to come – and is just like a little boy himself with the anticipation and excitement. When we’re there, the house is bustling and full, welcoming and warm.

He has a a Grandpa Bill, my stepdad, who is a bit more reserved but no less full of love. He loves Cameron, and enjoys showing him things too – walks on the iced-over lake, a wolf foot print that Cameron still remembers, boats, rockets, and forts.

Both Grandpas are special to Cameron for their own reasons. Both enjoy finding common ground with him, whether it’s trains, rockets, fishing, airplanes. Both show him how wonderful fathers are to their grown-up children, reinforcing that a parent is a parent forever.

Then of course, there is Leif. He and Cameron will, over time, work out their own relationship, but in the meantime he’s there, and caring. Cameron sees how Leif delights in Kate’s giggles and glee, and searches for new ways to bring her happiness. He sees that great fathers are there for their children, and try to make their days special. He also sees that they don’t take any BS – they set limits, and enforce them, even when it’s hard.

Leif’s dad, also known as Afi to Kate (Cameron sometimes calls him Afi, sometimes Kate’s Afi), is becoming special to Cameron.  He has a gruff, but sweet and loving way about him where the kids are concerned.  Cameron will throw himself into Afi’s arms with glee. This man has an excavator. He fishes. He talks about volcano rocks. He’s showing Cameron how interesting the world is, and how accepting and caring about new people in your life is easy, if you let it be.

Upstairs is Paul, daddy to Grace and Beth. He’s totally in love with his little girls (and Joanne too, of course). He plays with words, with the funniness in ideas, eliciting giggles in just how he says some words.  Some of the silly songs I’ve sung to Cameron have been based on ones I learned from Joanne, that Paul made up. He’s solid, he’s present with his daughters, and along with the other fathers in Cameron’s life he’s showing Cameron how much fathers love their children.

We haven’t spent much time with them lately, but our old next-door neighbour, Philippe, also is a father in Cameron’s life. He’s shown Cameron how welcoming people can be, how good fathers are to their son’s friends. He’s creative, too, and tells Samuel long and entertaining stories to pass the time. He’s got a sensitivity towards what kids need to hear that few men I’ve known have shown.

So no. We don’t ignore Father’s day. Sure, there were a few occasions where I was concerned that Cameron might observe the lack of a certain relative. But that man isn’t a daddy. He’s a father by chromosomal descent only at this point. Ignoring the day seems more like hiding from it. I’d far rather see Cameron celebrate the other fathers he sees, and know how special they are in his life.

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