Three years ago my daughter Hannah, then eight, went through a fiction writing phase. Clint researched various creative writing summer camps and brought home all the information for her.
Two years ago Hannah had a thing for fancy hotels so she transformed our upstairs into a Westin Resort and assigned each bedroom a room number. Clint brought home plastic key cards from all his business trips until she had a big enough supply to cover all her guests on even the busiest of weekends.
Last year upon getting a call that Hannah had fallen during a school field trip and needed stitches, Clint immediately left his office and met us at the urgent care clinic.
A few weeks ago when I was out of town, Clint left work early to pick Hannah up from school. On top all the things you would expect him to do (like feeding her dinner, making sure she got to bed on time, making her breakfast, packing her lunch and taking her to school) he helped her make homemade chocolate chip cookies because she had volunteered to bring a few dozen to school the next day for a party.
And whenever Hannah's classmates need a parent driver for a school outing, Clint's name is top of the list of people to call. He hardly ever says no.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. After all, this is what dedicated dads do every day for the children they love. And this is why it's so obvious that setting aside one Sunday a year to honor Clint and all the wonderful men just like him is the least we can do.
Only there isn't any day set aside to honor men like Clint. Because Clint isn't Hannah's dad -- or even her stepdad. Clint is my boyfriend. But the role he plays in Hannah's life is so much more than that title implies.
On school forms where you list emergency contacts or indicate who is authorized to pick your kid up, there's always a blank to fill in indicating that person's relationship to the child. "Stepdad," "grandfather" or "uncle" all fit in this blank nicely. But "mom's longtime boyfriend" doesn't.
When it comes to Hannah, in every category that matters -- time, energy, resources, love, you name it -- Clint's all in. But when any sort of official recognition is handed out, he gets passed over every time. In some ways, his role resembles that of an understudy, but it's an even more thankless job than that. He delivers amazing performances every single day, but his name never appears in the program at all.
As another Father's Day approached and card stands, ads and sales honoring dads started popping up everywhere, we realized that this was a situation that needed to be fixed. Clint needed a title -- one that indicates the role he occupies in Hannah's life; and one that does not have to be prefaced by a possessive adjective that is linked to me.
After much discussion, our family narrowed it down to two possibilities: Stepfriend or boydad -- both compound words made from mixing and rematching two other compound words: "boyfriend" and "stepdad."
We liked the ring of both of them, but we ultimately chose boydad. It seemed a better match since Clint is both younger and more fun than me. (Plus, the term stepfriend was already taken by the longtime girlfriend of someone else in our extended family, and my goal is to lessen the confusion, not compound it.)
With the title selected, all that's left to do is designate a special day to honor Clint and all the boydads like him. I've checked my calendar and the Sunday following Father's Day is free. So, mark your calendars for Sunday, June 24, and when that date rolls around don't forget to give the boydads in your life special props for all they do.
After Clint drove for a fieldtrip a few months ago, one of the boys in Hannah's class told her, "Your step dad is so cool." Rather than getting into the complicated business of correcting him ("He's not really my stepdad, he's actually just my mom's boyfriend."), she let it go and simply said, "I know."
But now that he's got a credited role, complete with a title and a special day of honor, next time that happens she can say, "He's my boydad -- and I know."
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