Fish Guts and Snail Goo

June brings us Fathers' Day. For the mom's day it was flowers and brunches, for dad's it's cards with pictures of ducks or fish on them, macaroni mosaics, and maybe mow the lawn for him and cook some steaks. Well, that's the generic greeting-card version, anyway.

When the kids are little, it's kind of fun to take them shopping to pick out a gift for the other parent. This is where the dollar stores come in REAL handy, knowing that if they break something you're not gonna be out more than a buck. It's really special to kids to be able to buy a gift with their own money (that you just gave them for doing chores). When they get older, they're on their own.

But when parents have split up and the kids are young, I believe it's important to continue helping the kids with the gift-giving. We were fortunate in that regard. One year for mom's day the kids and their dad took me to Disneyland. The boys weren't yet old enough to drive or take me on their own, so I appreciated the thoughtfulness on their dad's part. On a dad's day one year I took one of the boys to an aviary to pick out a canary, something their dad had been wanting. It was rewarding to me to see my son's pleasure in giving that gift. I think the key here was that the kids were old enough to understand that we were no longer "together" even though we weren't fighting anymore. No romance-reminiscing, no sniping at each other, none of that stuff went on. So it worked for us.

I have two sons. I was relieved not to have had a daughter. I don't think I would have had any idea how to do all the "princess" stuff little girls seem to like.

Having been kind of a tomboy (is that the right word to use these days?), I didn't care for dolls or wearing lacy dresses. I wanted to BE Mighty Mouse, Popeye or a cowboy. I have memories of going fishing with my dad and watching with fascination as he cleaned fish in the kitchen sink, especially the process of cutting open the belly to see what sort of cool and colorful stuff our catch had consumed. We also played a delightfully-disgusting game in the yard at night with flashlights, called "Captain Crunch". Upon encountering a snail on the ground, one would shout "Captain!" and that would be followed by "Crrrrunch!" and necessary removal of shoes before entering the house. No father/daughter dances like the schools have nowadays. Icky.

Now in his 80's, my dad's dresser is still graced with the yarn-wrapped, styrofoam-headed, clothes-hanger dinosaur I gave him on Father's Day in 1963. Cool, Dad.


©2011, Mary Lou St. Lucas

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Mary Lou St. Lucas is a former stay-at-home mom who has participated in custody and divorce-related support groups. She often speaks out through impassioned letters to local newspapers regarding issues affecting quality of life for children and families. She has experienced divorce, including the heartbreaking decision to give up daily contact with her two sons for what she believed was their best interest at that time, as well as the societal stigma attached to being a non-custodial mother. She emphasizes the importance of kids having BOTH parents in their lives on a regular basis, even if the parents cannot or will not be married anymore. She hopes other parents will see that there may be alternatives to the standard custody arrangements, depending on the individual situation. She writes from her perspective of today instead of revisiting and dwelling on the painful emotions of her past. She strives to live a full life in spite of a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and believes a sense of humor is mandatory. mlstuff.blogspot.com/2007/08/male-bashing-t-shirts.html or E-Mail.

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