Father's Day in lockdown: Kiwi dads share their thoughts on rest, relaxation and responsibility

Dads have a captive audience for Father’s Day this year, with the country under levels 3 and 4 lockdown restrictions. We talked to a few dads around the country about what the day means to them.

Matt Richens, Christchurch – Father of two, husband of one

I love Father’s Day, though I’m set for socks and undies so the kids are going to have to work a bit harder this year.

I’m pretty lucky in the fact that my kids and wife make a bit of a big deal about Father’s Day, though I’m pretty sure the ticket to a beer festival I asked for won’t be turning up. I will sort that out myself.

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“To Daddy, from Daddy.”

Oops, that reminds me – I’ve got a dad too. Somehow I forget about his Father’s Day until about the Thursday every year. As he Googles: “Can you deliver Bluff oysters in Level 3”?

I remember every year on Father’s Day complaining to my old man about it never being kids’ day.

“Every day’s bloody kids’ day”. NOW I know what he meant.

I asked Harper and Archie, 6 and 4, what they think I’d want to do on Father’s Day.

“You probably want to just sit in your corner of the couch and have a nice cold beer,” said harper. BINGO!

I’ll take them for a bike ride through the forest first – got to earn it.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I know my wife appreciates me – she tells and shows me. But Father’s Day is cool. It’s nice for them to make a big deal out of me.

I could pretend to be all stoic and cool about it all, but secretly I love it. I’ll get a couple of coffees made for me during the day and a few extra hugs and some hand-made cards. Archie will tell me I’m the “bestest dad in the whole wide world”. Long may that continue. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Shout out too, to all the hard-working dads and the solo mums, foster parents grandparents, step-dads, too. Happy Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day too to my Dad Steve. This is your present.

André Ngāpō and his three boys in 2014, twins Jakob and Kristin, admiring their newborn brother, Manu.
André Ngāpō and his three boys in 2014, twins Jakob and Kristin, admiring their newborn brother, Manu.

André Ngāpō (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Tamaterā) – Raumati South, father of three

To me, Father’s Day is more about an experience for the kids than a day that's all about me (though I am sure I’ll get pampered a little). My youngest son is 7, and it’s an opportunity to grow in him the concept of whakanuia, to honour and celebrate another. I’ll get a little sleep in while our little man helps to make breakfast.

He’ll have no doubt created a card, and there may be other treats in store. Being in level 3 lockdown means we will stay close to home, so no cafe lunch or out-of-town picnic by the river this time, but a whānau walk out on Raumati Beach for our daily exercise will be just perfect. My 20-year-old twin boys will message or call from Raglan. 20, wow! This is my 20th Father’s Day, time flies.

I’ll no doubt reflect on that. I’ll give my step-dad a call to tell him how I’ve appreciated the nearly 35 years he’s been in my life. And I’ll finish the day with a toast to my koro (whose picture will be up on our altar) and to my uncles, the significant males who raised me. Ngā mihi ki ōku Pāpā!

Oliver Webb, Tauranga – father of three

A Father’s Day in lockdown is probably not a huge change for me. Every year I get asked what beer I want for Father’s Day. I want to say something luxurious but as I know I’m paying for it I just go with a middle-of-the-road lager. As it’s lockdown I might have to double the amount. King-sized bar of chocolate as it's better value than those variety boxes that have too many Cherry Ripe and Turkish Delights in them. My kids tell me they like Turkish Delight, too bad, it's Father’s Day.

My wife will want to spoil me, yet incorporating the purchasing with our weekly lockdown shop will take away the fun.

Most days I'm first up (apart from my wife with her bootcamp/morning walks), tiptoeing around my own house like a cat burglar while making a coffee. Today my wife will sneak up first and blow up some balloons. My sons will give me handmade cards, made with love, but all will remind me I’m old, or fat, or my hair is greying. At least lockdown stops me from feeling guilty for not visiting my own dad.

We will bike ride around the neighbourhood, like most lockdown days, and eat cheese toasties for lunch before we play backyard footy. I might start drinking a bit earlier especially if the sun is out. I will cook meat and eat as much as I like as I’ve convinced myself it's cheaper than eating out. To top it all off there’s an All Blacks game which will be great to fall asleep in front of, and as it's Father’s Day nobody can tell me not to. All in all it sounds like a great day, but my wife will need another week of lockdown to recover.

Clark Pullan of Waipu, with wife Rowan and children Ava, 12, Baxter, 14, and Nyria 16.
Clark Pullan of Waipu, with wife Rowan and children Ava, 12, Baxter, 14, and Nyria 16.

Clark Pullan – Waipu, father of three

We used to have a big get-together at a local restaurant and bar with fathers, uncles, grandfathers being celebrated, and kids everywhere. They were a lot of fun and a good relax and release for the fathers.

For some unknown reason those celebrations have gone by the wayside. Pity, really.

I suppose if you’re asking what I would like/expect that would be my answer, go back to having those celebrations, a good carefree afternoon enjoying catching up with family and friends, a good meal, a good drink; happy days.

As I get more grey hairs by the day now, simple pleasures like that seem to have drifted away with the perceived complexity of life over the last 10 years.

Everyone is too busy (not), she doesn’t like him/her, someone didn’t like someone’s post so they are dead to them.

That’s it, that is my second wish for Father’s Day, social media can ‘f’ right off.

I still have zero footprint in this area and plan to stay that way. For every good thing from social media, tenfold bad things, morally wrong things, seem to arise and that is why I think we would all be better off without it.

Father’s Day, no social media day, that’s it! That’s what I want, but how can we plan it with everyone, check the restaurant’s menu for allergy issues for some little darling and rate how the day went afterwards?

Jonathon Howe (Ngati Maniapoto) – Palmerston North, father of two

I’m a typical Kiwi dad in that I don’t like too much fuss on Father’s Day. A home-made card, box of scorched almonds and a cooked breakfast are more than enough to keep me happy.

I love that my kids want to spend time with me on Father’s Day, but I don’t think they need to “honour” me for simply being their dad. It wasn’t their choice, after all.

In saying that, I’m very glad I am their dad as they’re both happy, fun-loving, affectionate kids who are the centre of the universe for their mother and I.

Father’s Day, for me then, is about reminding myself of how lucky I am, and reflecting on the responsibility that comes with being a dad. The spirited nature of my children means they can be a handful at times.

I try my very best to be a modern dad who is attuned to their feelings and perspectives. But I’m far from the perfect parent. I can be grumpy; I can get too absorbed in my work and I can’t help but be amused by teasing the kids to the point of annoyance.

But I work hard to be as good a role model as possible and whenever I have a parenting fail, I subject myself to lengthy periods of self-doubt. If after a long day I’ve been irritable to the kids, I’m instantly wracked with guilt, and spend the night worrying I’ve set in motion a catastrophic chain of events that will hinder their ability to become functioning members of society.

I know this is, for the most part, ridiculous but I don’t think anyone should discount the role dads play as influencers in their children’s lives. So, while I do appreciate how genuinely happy my children are to help their mum make cards and gifts for me on Father’s Day, what I need them to know is that the pleasure is all mine.