Holderness Fathers Day Video

Good Dads Give Me The Chills

I write this on Father’s Day in honor of my own dad, the King, and of Galahad, my Prince Charming. I was doing my deep research for this essay on Facebook, where most of my deep research is done, and I happened upon a Father’s Day video created by The Holderness Family. I usually find their stuff really entertaining since the couple is charming and they create amusing parodies. This one, though, had home videos sent in by their viewers of dads doing goofy dad things with their kids. And it got me. Chills and eyes stinging a bit with tears.

You’ll see if you go to the video, that these are average-guy-dads – not models. They are in various states of average-guy-dad dress. In fact, they are mostly wearing schleppy shorts and t-shirts. They are average-guy dads doing average-guy dad things by playing with their kids: dancing, jumping on a trampoline, swimming, biking. Yet I got a little thrill by watching them. I don't think I'm the only one thrilled as the video has racked up almost 8,000 likes and over 5,000 shares in the first four days it was posted.

Was my attraction to these men biological? Am I, as a woman, hardwired to find obvious examples of superlative fatherhood attractive? That seems plausible, though unromantic. Did Tumak have to play with baby Grok in order to get a little somethin' somethin' from Loana? Most of the non-Facebook research I have read suggest that women are hardwired to find men who would be good providers. I don’t recall anything that listed a criterion that they be awesome at piggy back rides.

[NOTE: If you’re a little rusty on your mid-60s schlock movies, Tumak and Loana were the main characters from 1,000,000 BC starring Rachel Welch. I chose it just so I could drop in a gratuitous picture of Rachel for King Dad and Prince Galahad. The two generations have a meeting of the minds about Rachel. You’re welcome, gents.]

Rachel Welch 1000000 years.jpg

So we’re back to trying to understand my emotional response ...attraction ... chills. I formulated another theory … this time around a fairy tale. What? You’re doubting my research skills? Well, read on and see if this theory holds any face validity for you (see … official researchy term, 'face validity', right there in print.)

When I was a girl, I read a fairy tale that stuck with me. The story was The Plain Princess. The Princess Esmerelda was a little bitch (you are correct in your assumption that the author did not use that term.) Esmerelda sulked. She pouted. She threw tantrums. She constantly looked sour. The prince she wanted to marry tells her he won’t do it because she’s so damned ugly (again, I take some poetic licence for the sake of brevity.)

The King and Queen of the tale are concerned for their daughter who has progressed from a snit into a full-blown depression. They offer riches to anyone who can make their daughter pretty. Potions and lotions and charms are all thrown at the princess by various quacks, but nothing works. Then one day, Dame Goodwit comes to the castle with her three beautiful daughters and tells the monarchs that she can make their little girl beautiful if they will let Esmerelda leave the castle to live with the Dame and her daughters in their poor little house for three months.

You can probably finish the story on your own. Esmerelda has to work hard at the little cottage. She makes friends with the beautiful daughters. She does unselfish things. And after three months, she comes back to the castle with a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye and the prince finds her pretty and they live happily ever after.

There are lots of implications for this story as applied to women, but today, I’m thinking about Dads. It is reinforcement that attraction is more about acts than looks. I can see beauty in every father caught in the act of being a great dad.

Galahad and I have been together for 27 years. And we’ve known each other for 36 years (we passed the I’ve-known-you-for-half-my-life milestone ages ago.) We were married for 13 years before we had our first squire. I thought Galahad was attractive pre-kids. But I think he’s drop dead gorgeous post-kids. He gives me a thrill every time I catch him playing with our squires: bike rides, workouts, watching Godzilla movies, being dungeon master for a rollicking D&D game. Really, the last one, in particular. We are a family of geeks, and watching Galahad catalyze their stories and imaginations just does it for me.

As for my own King Father? He was a pilot, so he was either on a trip, or he was fully home. That fully home part meant that he could do things that lots of other dads with regular day jobs couldn’t. I remember him attending my 1st grade play where I was the narrator of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I remember him making me flashcards and working with me for hours. 12 - 7 = 5! I can’t say I loved it at the time, but I find lovely now. He was the only dad chaperone when my 4th grade class went to the aquarium. That same year, we had a party at my house for my classmates and he put on a magic show for my friends. In high school, he chaperoned an out-of-state speech and drama UIL trip. He attended high school football games to watch me march in the band (and then generally left after half-time like a good band parent.)

I think my dad was an unusually involved dad for his generation. But the expectations of dad involvement change over the last half century. As I was hiking on our neighborhood trail yesterday, I saw three different sets of dads and their very young kids. No moms. Just the dads. I gave each one a blinding – and perhaps startling – smile. I see the spouses of my girlfriends being great dads. These men talk with and play with and encourage their kids. They drive the kids to sports practice. They attend concerts and talent shows. They joke with their kids. And they listen to them.

In this, I am encouraged by our modern culture. This is good news since there is much that is currently discouraging. But on this Father’s Day, I'd like to acknowledge how lucky I am. I’m lucky to be raised by a dad who loved me, but more than that, by a dad who did the hard work and the unselfish things. And I’m lucky to have a partner who loves our squires and also does the hard work and the unselfish things. My own King Father and Prince Husband are beautiful to behold. Happy Father’s Day!

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