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Father’s Day joy and outrage

My Father’s Day was all I could have ever wanted.

Also slightly disappointing.

My best version of Father’s Day would be one filled with nonstop fun, and that was certainly the case for me.

It started at sunrise with nine holes of golf with my friends. I didn’t play great, but I didn’t play poorly either. I beat two friends and came within a stroke of beating the third.

More importantly, we had a lot of fun. Laughter and stories and the occasional groan. Great fun for all.

Then, my family and I went to brunch at a favorite spot before heading to the Dunkin Donuts Stadium to watch the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats play the Akron Rubber Ducks on a perfect summer day. The Yard Goats won 1-0 in a nail-biter, and after the game, Charlie and I ran the bases.

Then we were off to a favorite ice cream shop, followed by another nine holes of golf with Charlie. On the last hole, Charlie hit his drive alongside the green, chipped onto the fringe, and then put the ball in the hole for the first birdie of his life.

He’s never even had a par.

We celebrated the hell out of the moment.

I also had a birdie putt on the hole that I missed, meaning Charlie also beat me on a hole for the first time.

A great moment for him and me.

I finished the day with a bike ride before watching a movie with the family.

My kind of Father’s Day. Non-stop fun.

But not every moment was ideal.

As we entered the restaurant for brunch, we found ourselves behind a couple – presumably a mother and father – with three small children under the age of eight. In the mother’s arms was a neat stack of iPads, enclosed in child-proof cases, ready for the children.

I hoped and prayed not to be seated beside this disaster.

Instead, we found ourselves on the other side of the restaurant beside a couple whose older child – probably about seven – was watching something on an iPad while their younger child was playing with a phone. Elysha had to lean over and ask the couple if they could turn down the volume on the iPad so we could enjoy our meal.

What the hell are people thinking?

Seriously. WHAT THE HELL ARE PEOPLE THINKING?

As an educator, I also couldn’t help but think:

“These kids eventually find their way into our schools, where dysregulation, distraction, and defiance are rising. Where teachers are forced to fight for attention and engagement every day. And we wonder why.”

Later, while standing in line to run the bases with Charlie, I found myself standing in front of another couple and their weeping son. He had apparently run ahead of his parents, momentarily disappearing from sight, which upset the father. In response, he was laying into his son relentlessly, harping on his son’s mistake again and again, causing the boy to cry more and more.

This eventually shifted into a fight between the man and his wife, who thought her husband needed to “Knock it off.”

“This isn’t the time,” she whispered.

“You’ve made your point,” she added.

“It’s Father’s Day,” she reminded him.

Rather than rethinking his decision and standing down, he turned his ire at his wife, telling her how unsupportive and ridiculous she was behaving. In response, she immediately disengaged from him, becoming a silent receptacle for his anger.

All of this caused their son to cry even more. All of this right before they were to step onto the field to run the bases on Father’s Day.

Just before it was their turn to step onto the field, the father said, “I’m not doing this,” and walked away, leaving his wife to run the bases on what had been branded as a “Father-Son Baseball Run.”

Charlie caught the last bit of this particular fight. Just before we stepped onto the field, he said, “I’m really happy you’re my father.”

“Me, too,” I said, and I meant it. The thought of Charlie staring at screens in restaurants, being publicly shamed for becoming overly excited about running the bases at a baseball game, or watching his parents go to war over a parenting disagreement would break my heart.

It broke my heart for those kids who weren’t mine but deserved better.