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David Eddie

Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail

Every year around this time, you can count on some big-baby daddy to spit out his soother, throw his rattle out of his crib and pen a lament to the effect of: "Why don't people make as big a deal about Father's Day as they do Mother's Day?"

This year, it was a piece posted on CNN.com in which a disgruntled dad complains that he got his wife "what she wanted for years - a weeping cherry tree," on Mother's Day, and even threw in a bird bath, so the birdies could play in the shade of the tree when it was all grown up.

Meanwhile, all he got on Father's Day was "some boxer shorts and a tiny reading light, so I can flip through a book in bed without disturbing her."

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Father's Day is an "afterthought," he complains, on par with Groundhog Day or Arbor Day. "But these days, dads are changing diapers, warming bottles, and taking our kids to the park," so they deserve more.

Ladies, this dude does not speak for all of us, not by a stretch. In fact, I would go so far as to say he is an embarrassment to both dude-dom and dad-dom.

When did men become such a bunch of whiners? It's all part of the wimpification and metrosexualization of the modern man. I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but I'm starting to pine for the silent, stoic men of yesteryear.

I don't remember ever celebrating my father's birthday, let alone Father's Day. He never seemed to care about such matters.

Well, it was hard to tell. Such feelings as he may have had, he kept bottled up. He was a classic, old-school dad: happiest sitting silent, or maybe quietly muttering behind a newspaper, none too comfortable expressing his thoughts or feelings.

I remember once, around the age of 14, sneaking a peek in his diary (it was the seventies; someone probably encouraged him to keep a journal to "get in touch with his inner self"). All it said was stuff like: "Today, for lunch, I had a hamburger. It was delicious, if a trifle overcooked."

And I thought: "Man, if I'm supposed to be Dad's ticket to immortality, he's blown it, because I don't have a clue what makes him tick."

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I vowed to be different: to be expressive, communicative, an open book. It became my whole raison d'être, or maybe I should say raison d'oeuvre: I'd put all my thoughts and feelings in a bunch of books, and if any of my kids were ever interested in what made me tick, all they'd have to do is pull one off the shelf and boom: done.

And it's worked out too. Recently, for a school project, my oldest son, Nick, now 12, read Housebroken , the book I wrote describing the agony and joy of staying home to look after him when he was little.

Halfway through, he came down the stairs in tears: "Dad, I had no idea you loved me so much when I was a baby."

Success! All in all, I'm happy to be the type of man who expresses. But when chattiness tips over into whining, it's less attractive, I feel.

And there's a lot to be admired about the men of the olden days. Recently, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and I can't believe his stoicism as he goes through chemotherapy and radiation.

"Oh, yeah, Dave, I've just been fitted with a feeding tube," he told me cheerfully just this week. "But I'm still enjoying food, though I guess I'm losing some weight."

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When it's my turn, you're not going to see stoicism, courage and humour. You're going see an embarrassing display of cowardice and self-pity. I'm going to be grabbing my wife by the lapels and bawling: "Why, Pam, why, why, why?"

My father might have a few "dark nights of the soul" of his own, but the point is he doesn't say anything.

Men of his generation didn't waste time bewailing and bemoaning their fate. Other things they didn't do: "manscape" their chests, care whether the curtains matched the couch, drink crantinis.

They certainly didn't complain that no one was making a big enough deal about them on Father's Day - or ever. They bore it like they bore everything else: just shrugged and went about their business - with what may have seemed like stumped silence but was in fact a steely stoicism.

I'm starting to feel my generation could learn a lot from these tough old buzzards. Treat whatever you get as gravy, and if it's a little lumpy, just smile and say you like it.

Certainly be happy with whatever you get on Father's Day, whether it be boxers and a reading light (which sounds pretty good to me, hint hint) or just a card. And if you're not happy about what you get, take a page from the dads of yore and stay mum.

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