To Leo, on Father’s Day

By: Tosha Woronov

Your daddy says things to you like, “This is just a ball.  But you, you are a BOY.  It cannot hurt you.”  I think that you’ll remember this.  I think his words will blip in to your mind as the ground ball rushes at you, giving you courage to dive hard and make that save.

Your daddy works 15, 16, sometimes 20 hours a day, but you do not know this.  I know, because it’s hard to run a household without him. Your daddy does not ask for a minute to himself (it’s you who needs the re-adjusting period; you’re more like me that way).  Rather, your dad is all smiles and stories.  His head feels yolk-y, his eyes are swollen, but to you he asks, “want to play some basketball before it gets dark?”

Your daddy takes pictures like this, of softballs and gloves.  I think it’s a little maudlin.  He points out that there are two gloves there.  I still think it’s a little maudlin.  But the point is, he loves you.

Your daddy hasn’t missed a thing you’ve said, or the way you said it, or the change from the way you used to say it.  I look over at him (we parents do that, we share looks), and he is always right there with me.  Every time.  I do not catch him staring at the television.  He hears you.  He notices.

Your daddy calls or texts me every weekday morning to ask, “how was drop-off?” He does this despite the fact you have been going to that preschool for two years and drop-off is old-hat to you.

Your daddy struggles with your current phase of constant poop and fart talk.  It’s not his thing. But he absolutely will not tolerate you talking like that to me.  He warns, “if you have to talk like that, say it to me.  But don’t you ever, EVER talk that way to your mommy, got it?  She is a lady.”

Your daddy likes to make sure you’re well hydrated during “sports league”.

Your daddy has been criticized for being too soft, for allowing too much.  But he knows what he’s doing.  I know in my bones that he knows what he’s doing.  And he’ll be tough on you when he needs to.

Your daddy’s daddy, Gramps, is, too, a good father.  From the time I met your dad, and every week since, I’ve watched him open these small envelopes addressed by Gramps that contain random newspaper clippings –often about sports, but also about books, and music – with only a post-it attached that reads “I love you” or “I’m proud of you.”  I know that when you’re a man, you and your daddy will have this too.

Your daddy loves our dog more today than he did before you were born.  Because he gets it, what makes a family, what completes his family.

Your daddy dreams of a retirement that looks this:  the two of us in an Airstream RV, cruising the country, dropping in on you at school to take you out to dinner.  Don’t worry.  I won’t let this happen.

Your daddy is a normal guy. He plays fantasy football.  But he named his team after you and has no problem being teased for it.

Your daddy takes you to the beach, to the pier, to Sports Chalet.  It seems he can’t just spend the day; it has to be an adventure.  Some times this irritates me, because I don’t understand why he has to make everything so grand all the time.  But I love when you two come home and share with me all the treasures you’ve found.

Your daddy gave me you.  And for this I don’t know how to properly thank him, on this day set aside to do so.

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