By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
You don't smoke. You don't know anyone who does smoke (or at least anyone who will admit to it anymore). In fact, you can't even remember the last time your child saw anyone holding a lit cigarette and yet there is your little darling presenting you with your own handmade ashtray for Father's Day. What exactly is going through your child's mind? Do they want you to die early so they can get their trust fund faster? Did it start out as a change bowl but morph into the ashtray when it grew corners? This is of course the same child who told her teacher that you don't have a job because she's "never seen you working" so maybe some questions shouldn't be asked. Nevertheless, having been through years of Father's Days watching my husband graciously receive everything from a ruler to a singing card that ended with "Wipe my butt!" I think I may have some insight into what your child means when he gives you your gift.
Gift: The tie
What it means: Is it classy? Mom bought it and Junior's as surprised as you are when you open it. Does it have cartoon characters, large hideous flowers or make noise? You may be a nine-to-fiver, but you are nobody's cubicle drone.
Gift: The candy dish
What it means: I want you to associate me with candy so that every time you think of me you bring me some.
Gift: Grilling Tools
What it means: I noticed you do not carry a sword so I bought you the best assortment of fighting objects mom's money could buy.
Gift: A DVD
What it means: While you're distracted watching TV that will give me time to rifle through your closet looking for that candy dish.
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Gift: Captain America Underpants
What it means: You are my superhero. And also, I felt bad for you since mom only buys you the boring plain undies.
What it means: You know all those speeches you give me about sharing? Ahem.
Gift: A handmade tchotchke to be used as wall and/or desk art.
What it means: I'm marking my territory. I've seen all those adorable little tots that show up at your job on Bring Your Child To Work Day.
Gift: A wallet
What it means: This is clearly where money comes from so if you have two, now you'll have twice the income. With which to buy me candy.
Gift: A hand-drawn card
What it means: That there was this huge monster who got over the moat but then the princess used magic and fended him off with her dragon that the witch gave her when she brought her princess shoes and... wait, what are we talking about again?
Gift: The favorite toy/snuggly/blankie
What it means: I trust you more than Elmo, Dora and Kai-Lan even though she's teaching me Chinese. Also, now mom's going to cry.
The great thing about presents from young children is that no matter how they ended up deciding you needed that Northfield Credit Union t-shirt, what they all mean deep down is: "Thanks for being my dad. I love you more than candy. (I'm pretty sure.)"
What's the best or most memorable gift you or your husband got for Father's Day?
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a mom of 5 and the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and the blog of the same name.