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How One Clever Dad Got Exactly What He Wanted for Father's Day

A daughter gets more than she bargained for on Father's Day

Published on: June 12, 2019


When I was growing up, my dad and I were very different people.  We still are, I’m happy to say. I say I’m happy about that not because I love that we’re so different, but because I’m pushing 50 and he’s still around. I feel very lucky to have him and that sentiment grows each year as I realize how much he has taught me. But, as I said, we are very different people. 

My dad hates pretension. This trait is on full display when I take him to the types of vegetarian or locavore restaurants that I Iove. When we go to a restaurant that offers nitrate-free bacon, he orders extra nitrates on the side.

He will jump down a well-meaning barista’s throat if they ask him if he wants light or dark drip coffee. He just wants coffee. Ask him about the country of origin at your own peril. It gets ugly right quick. He likes hamburger in his tacos. I learned this only because I made the mistake of taking him to Chipotle once and he was decidedly unimpressed. What the hell kind of place doesn’t offer hamburger tacos? 

So, imagine a college kid coming home on weekends and in the summers as a vegan. She filled the fridge with fake meat and egg replacer. Now imagine that bright and strong young woman (we all see that I’m talking about me now, right?) also loved wearing t-shirts announcing in large letters what a bright and strong feminist she is. I wouldn’t wear skirts to job interviews and I wouldn’t shy away from telling everyone around me why I was right and they were wrong. 

“I know what I want for Father’s Day,” he said. He was smiling a lot so it made me nervous. 

I also refused to wear makeup. It was a tool of the patriarchy and I wanted to prove to the world that I was beautiful without it. I wanted the world to take one look at my unadorned angry face and my slogan-filled t-shirt and know that I was fighting the good fight.

My dad felt that I was beautiful and he told me that a lot but also told me he missed seeing me smile and wished I would throw on a little eyeliner and blush while I was at it.

And we fought. Sometimes they were small fights. Sometimes, they were pretty epic yell-fests. I really felt strongly about things and so did he. But we survived. 

This all set the stage for a unique photo shoot I didn't realize was in my future.

The perfect Father's Day gift

During those bumpy college years, he came to the kitchen table one day while I was crunching on nitrate-free veggie bacon. 

“I know what I want for Father’s Day,” he said. He was smiling a lot so it made me nervous. 

“Okay. What?” I asked. 

“A picture of my four girls looking beautiful,” he declared. 

“What four girls?” I asked. 

I have one sister and one mom. I was no math major but this is one I could handle.

That is when our dog, Sophie, loped happily into the room. 

“Oh no,” I said. 

He began giggling. “Yep,” he replied with glee. “I want the three of you and the dog. And I want you to go to Glamour Shots at the mall.” 

For those unfamiliar with Glamour Shots; it was a chain of photography studios that specializes in making you over and then doing a glamorous photo shoot. This involved many things on my list of hates: malls, corny family pictures, makeup, big hair and wearing clothes that were not t-shirts. 

But he had me and he knew it. He knew I loved him so much that I would do whatever he asked of me for Father’s Day. He also knew that I might have said no had it been just my mom, my sister and me in the photo. Throwing in the dog was his genius way of ensuring I'd say yes because I adored that dog and it would make the picture ironic and quirky enough for me to indulge him. It was a stroke of genius. What some might call a parenting coup.

Photo of Stephanie Olson with her mom, sister and dog

Here are some tips you can pick up from my dad:

Bide your time 

It was Father’s Day. What kind of a monster kid would turn down her dad’s one request on Father’s Day? Plus, the dog spin was nearly Machiavellian in its effectiveness. It took me years to even realize he planned the dog as the perfect bait for me. 

Make it fun

My dad didn’t lecture me. Yet he found a fun way to get what he wanted. He had a photo of me smiling and wearing makeup that he could look at whenever he chose. My sister is nearly 12 years younger than I am and we didn’t share many experiences back then. My mom didn’t get to do a lot with the two of us. This was his way of getting us to spend an afternoon together. We laughed hysterically as we went to lunch and then fulfilled my dad’s crazy request. 

Not to mention the incredible laughs that this photo brought to friends and family as it sat in a proud place on the mantle of my parents’ house for almost 20 years. 

Make a memory

Dad always talked about ‘making memories’ when we were young. Well, dear reader, getting all dolled up by a middle-aged lady at the mall that day so I could get a Glamour Shot done with my mom, sister and dog was definitely a memory. 

I’m not sure if I will ever match this frame-worthy parenting coup. The man has set a pretty high bar. Even if I fall short, I am grateful I have this memory that he so cleverly forced me to make so many years ago. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

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