Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 06.17.06
Stanstead, Quebec


So, how do you like me so far?

If fatherhood were a business, Father's Day would be the end of the fiscal year, the moment when you finally get that year-end bonus you've been working towards for the past twelve months, except instead of shares in the company you get ties and golf balls.

But in business, nothing comes free. Bonuses aren't just automatically given out. You have to be assessed, scrutinized, dissected. You have to undergo the performance review.

I imagine mine would go something like this:

Parent's name
Ross Murray
Job function: Father, husband, person who knows where the water shut-offs are
Reviewers: Fruit of his loins

Quality of Work

We know Dad means well but his work can be rather slipshod. This is common knowledge and well documented. For example, painting the front steps while the rest of us were away was a thoughtful gesture.

However, failing to put sand in the high-gloss paint turned the steps into a skating rink when wet. The lawsuit by the newspaper carrier is pending.

And why can't he remember whose underwear is whose when sorting laundry? Can it be that hard?

We do, however, like his stir fry.

To sum up, Dad can be a bit of a boob. Lucky for him, fathers are so consistently portrayed as dunderheads in advertising and sit-coms that expectations are pretty low in the first place. So he doesn't come off half bad!

Strategies: Before doing anything, check with Mom.

Quantity of Work

Dad could do more. We sometimes see him standing in the middle of the yard with a faraway look in his eyes. Instead of daydreaming, he could be driving us to friends' houses, fixing our bikes, playing catch, admiring our acrobatic skills, getting us a snack, giving us money, buying us things, making the swimming pool not so cold, etc. What is he doing just standing there?

Tends to disappear in the bathroom for long stretches of time, but we know he's in there.

Also, we're not buying claims that he has to "work" when he kicks us off the computer.

Strategies: More lists. Less sleep. Supply Dad with a pager. Reinforce jobs well done by fetching him cold beverages from the fridge.

Communication Skills

Sometimes it feels like we're not speaking the same language. Other times, we say something and Dad claims he didn't hear us. As if!

Strategy: Get Dad an Instant Messenger account so we can have real conversations. Should work on mind-reading skills.


In general, Dad works well with others, although certain areas need improvement. For example, declaring "This is stupid" while helping us with homework is not productive.

Dad can also be intolerant of those around him. The rest of us can concentrate perfectly well with someone bouncing a tennis ball off our bedroom door so why not him?

Also, the 5-year-old tearfully insists that only Mom can take her to bed. Does she know something we don't?

Strategy: Make Dad more amenable by fetching him more cold beverages from the fridge.


We're against it. Don't be trying anything new and unusual on us. We like the stir fry, yes, but the way Dad always makes it. The fish sauce version was just wrong.


Dad adapts well to suddenly altered pick-up times and after-school activities, although there's no need for the dramatic sighing (see "Attitude" above).

We appreciate Dad's willingness to welcome new pets in the house although his unwillingness to admit that he "just loves" them reinforces the impression that he is emotionally distant.


Can be willfully cranky. Tends to feel sorry for himself and exaggerates his situation to others. Too self-focused. It's kind of pathetic.


An acceptable performance. Bring on the golf balls!