StephenVance 270While I'm certainly no fan of 'Hallmark holidays', I confess that with the recent months of lock-down, social distancing, and stay at home orders, I am very much looking forward to seeing my sons this Father's Day weekend.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated mitigation measures have caused many to be unable to see friends and family in recent months, and while I have always enjoyed regular visits with my boys, we haven't gotten together since January, due to the instructions of upper levels of government and public health units to stay home and distance ourselves.

I have thought a lot about fathers during this strange COVID-19 time. While it has been an irritation and an inconvenience, an advantage I've had is that at 17 and 21, my own sons are all but grown, and with their lives busy with work, school, and other endeavours, we have grown accustomed to less frequent visits, and we have the luxury in these modern times of instant communication by text or social media. But for fathers of younger children, who like many these days share custody, I can imagine that recent months have brought added frustration with missed visits and cancelled plans.

These recent months would certainly have been more challenging had my children been younger, because while kids miss their parents when they are away from them, dads miss their kids too. If this old hermit has learned anything during this time of social distancing and isolation, it's just how much I love and miss my kids, and how valuable time spent with them really is.

While many fathers have missed a number of visits with their kids in the last three months, in reality my boys and I have missed just one visit, as with their busy lives after their January visit they were planning a visit to Meaford in April, which we cancelled out of respect for the distancing restrictions implemented by the province. I have had one surprise visit however. Just last week there was a knock at my door in the early evening. My younger son and a few of his friends, eager to escape their months' long 'imprisonment', took a drive and stopped in to visit with Dad for an hour.

While Father's Day weekend in years past would have meant silly gifts and a breakfast out at a local restaurant, this year will be a little different. Though some restaurants are working to open up patio service, most remain shuttered, so I will instead put my chef son to work, particularly if we have any luck during our planned fishing excursion on Saturday. In short, we will work with what these strange times will allow.

To all of the dads out there, whether your children are young, or if they are grown and have children of their own, this is your weekend, and given all that we've been through this year, make the most of the opportunity to spend time with your kids and enjoy them. In the first half of this year we have seen just how quickly circumstances can change, and how quickly we can be forced to change our plans whether we want to or not.

This pandemic experience has certainly taught me that there are no guarantees in life, and we can quickly find ourselves facing difficult choices, or indeed orders, that can significantly alter our daily lives.

So a Happy Father's Day to all, and I hope that this weekend is a time to re-connect with family and to share special moments that can only be found with our offspring.

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