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StephenVance 270Above all else I am a father to two fine boys, and with Father's Day upon us, and with one of my boys coming to Meaford for the weekend, I have been thinking about all of the things that being a father has brought to my life.

Long-time readers of this paper will know that I don't celebrate holidays. There's no Christmas tree in my home in December, and I don't celebrate Easter or other religious holidays, and 'Hallmark holidays' like Valentine's Day or Father's Day just aren't for me, but just because I don't officially observe days like Father's Day doesn't mean that being a father isn't important to me.

When I started this newspaper in 2009 my boys were still young. Zack, my youngest, was just six years old, and his older brother Sam was ten. In those days little Zack was so cute that his father used photos of him in the paper from time to time, and Sam, a budding photographer, enjoyed taking photos for me to use as stock photos when I needed something for an article.

Today my youngest is 16 years old and mid-way through high school, and my oldest is pushing 21, and after finishing college he has been a very busy chef working at a fancy restaurant, so needless to say I don't see as much of Sam as I used to.

As I understand it, Father's Day is a celebration of fathers and all they do for their offspring, but if I were to celebrate Father's Day, I think I would prefer to celebrate the kids and what they have brought to my life.

Not everything that kids bring to our lives is awesome. 'Exhibit A' would be kids' shows like Blue's Clues or Caillou – when those DVDs went into the DVD player, this dad would often need some fresh air – kids' shows weren't really for me when I was a kid, and adulthood did nothing to make me like them any more. That said, I did enjoy seeing how those little children responded to some of those shows, so they weren't all bad.

Horrid kids' shows aside, being a father has mostly brought wonderful things into my life. Witnessing the look of accomplishment when they learned new things like riding a bike or throwing a football was always special for me, as were the many times my kids made me feel like a hero for simple things like removing a splinter or fixing a broken skateboard.

Now that my kids are older, I am in a new phase of parenting. My kids are smart, strong, and independent. They no longer need me to dress them or prepare meals for them; instead what they need is to draw on my life experiences and my knowledge, and sometimes that can feel like an even heavier responsibility, as you don't want to fill your kids' heads with your views and ideas, but rather you want them to think critically and develop their own views, even if they are different from Dad's. The last thing the world needs are two more creatures thinking as I do, but if they find value in my views, great, but I want to ensure that they view the world through their own lenses and come to their own conclusions.

So when my son Zack comes to visit this weekend, the focus won't be on Father's Day, it will be on what it always is – dad and son time, and we will likely watch some movies, make fun of his older brother while he isn't around, we might play a game or two, or we might hang out in a park and watch birds, or talk about school.

Whatever we do, it will be a fun time, and no matter what day it is, it will be Father's Day for me, as it is every time my kids come to visit.


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