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Dear, o-l-d daddy


I LOVE Father's Day. It's not just the gifts, or the choice of pie or strawberry shortcake that is offered to me, but I love the way my children treat me like the village idiot.

There comes a time in every father's life when the father-child role is reversed, and the offspring is giving the orders and the patriarch accepts it because he has no choice. I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I began to be patronized, but once you go down that road there is no turning back.

I first noticed that things weren't the same when my children started to talk about me at the dinner table as if I weren't there.

"He looks very good," one child remarked, "although I wish he would exercise more."

My son said, "I tried to get him out on the tennis court the other day, but he said that he'd rather watch a golf tournament on TV."

My oldest daughter asked, "Do you think he wants any more mashed potatoes?"

Instead of protesting this treatment, I just nodded my head and grinned like Forrest Gump whenever they looked in my direction. Every once in a while one of the children would give me a thumbs-up.

I also noticed that they had started to speak to me more slowly and much louder than they did to each other.

"Did you have a good week, Dad?"

I nodded although I sensed that they really didn't care if I did or not. They just wanted to find a way to include me in the conversation.

I almost said that I got an "A" in history or something. Instead, I played with my string beans.

After dinner the serious whispering started. "He really is looking very healthy," my daughter told her brother.

My other daughter added, "He may look all right but don't ask him to do any push-ups."

My son said, "Nobody would believe he fought in World War II."

My daughter laughed, "I hope he doesn't start telling us how he single-handedly beat the Japanese again."

My son sounded sympathetic, "It's better to let him reminisce than to try and shut him up."

I am not complaining about the role my children have assigned to me. It is a normal progression in what is known in life as "passages."

Besides, being patriarch of the family took a lot out of me. Being treated as the village idiot is much more relaxing and gives tremendous pleasure to the other members of the family.

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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