The Playroom: Father's Day

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Sunday is Father’s Day. Despite the media onslaught, I did not realize this until my dad told me. I am faced with the decision that has haunted me since second grade, “What do I get my dad for Father’s Day?”

In the second grade I glued macaroni to a cigar box and spray painted it gold. Every time I needed money for the ice cream truck, I’d open up my dad’s top dresser drawer and there was my gold-painted box filled with spare change. As the years went by, most of the macaroni fell off, the paint faded and the lid needed some tape, but while I was growing up, the box was always there.

Now I’m married with kids, and my kids will ask, “Mom, what am I getting Dad for Father’s Day?”

“How should I know?”

I’m defeated because I’ve got no good ideas. In desperation I turned to a top 10 list I found on the Internet. Number one on the list was an alarm clock with wheels that rolls off the night stand when it goes off. I decided that anything which causes the user to chase it around the bedroom in the dark to stop the blaring radio sounds of “Mike & Mike” was a bad idea.

Despite the initial bad ideas, I kept reading lists. There was a ketchup gun, but I can’t imagine any good reason to give a man a squirt gun loaded with ketchup. I already have tomato sauce on the ceiling, and I don’t need ketchup on the walls.

There was a meat thermometer for the grill, which had a part you could clip on your belt so you could be productive while your food was cooking. The clip on your belt would ding and tell you when your burgers were the correct temperature. I decided this was an even dumber idea than the front- axle alarm clock and almost as dumb as the ketchup gun.

The entire point of grilling is meat, fire and beer. My husband likes to stand by the grill, ignore everyone and everything except the hockey scores on his cell phone, drink a beer and poke at things on an open flame until he decides they are done. He doesn’t want a computer probe dinging at him while he’s folding laundry to tell him his burgers are done.

Top 10 list after top 10 list proved to me that nobody knows what to get dad for Father’s Day. When I asked my dad, he told me to just give him a call. He said what he really wants is to talk to his kids. I figure what most dads want on Father’s Day is what I wanted on Mother’s Day: to spend time with my kids, have them hug me like they mean it, tell me they appreciate the folded laundry and to hear them say “I love you.”

So here’s my gift idea: a few heartfelt words and a decent hug. Then, leave the man alone so he can drink a beer, play with fire and check the scores. When the game is over and the meat off the grill, take dad out for ice cream. There is spare change in the box with the faded lid and the missing macaroni. My best Father’s Day gift ever.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. Her website is Email her at