Dad defined

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When I was in kindergarten, or perhaps first grade, my friend's dad died. I distinctly remember her needing a lot of attention in class and wanting to sit with me even at the times that I didn't want her to. When it came to making Father's Day cards I remember she was encouraged to draw hers for her uncle. It was then I made the first, albeit childlike, connection to her loss and to the fact that there's many different fathers to rely on in our lives.

I've been watching these good men, including my husband, heroically do what they do for a long time and I want to acknowledge all of you for your collective dad-like support. It takes a village and you have proven it with your deeds.

I thank a grandpa at my temple with whom I rejoiced when I finished graduate school, as my dad was no longer alive to share this news. The neighbor who helped my son cut, carve and sand his pinewood derby car since our family didn't have power tools. The little league coach who, along with his assistant coach, my husband, knew exactly how to work together to teach my daughter how to play baseball.

These are the men that you know who help the neighborhood kids learn to ride bicycles without training wheels. These are the gentlemen who do the food shopping, the laundry and the gardening because they are part of a team, not a gender-defined "I'm the breadwinner" lifestyle from the 1950's. These are the guys who society might suggest have the responsibility to have the most cringe-worthy jokes and the best barbecue skills, but that doesn't even come close to defining them.

While the world has changed dramatically, I hate to admit the ad business continues to embarrassingly objectify women, and depict men as inept and completely incapable of parenting care. When dad sits down to a tea party with his daughter and does a remarkable wash with Tide, this is revolutionary. But when mom spent the last half-century getting the clothes cleaner and whiter this was, of course, expected.

I think it must be hard to be a dad or dad stand-in, but I have had the privilege to meet people who have always made this look easy. They are compassionate. They are caring. They are selfless. And, related to me or not, on this Father's Day I thank you for looking out for us all.

A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY, LIU Post and SUNY Old Westbury.