Lots of dads just like being dads.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought that lesson home in a hurry for Paul Scott, a 53-year-old South Pasadena father of two who was — until very recently ― involved at his lab in testing for the disease, seven days a week, 16 hours a day since March. He just sold his business and has cut back his workload to six days a week, 10 hours a day, though he is beginning new endeavors.
“I would see the children at breakfast. It is the longest time I have been away from the family on a consistent basis,” said Scott, who sold his business a month ago. “The time away really made me miss it. Being a dad is the second-greatest joy in my life, next to being married to my wife. It was hard missing them and I am glad to have them back.”
His wife, a veterinarian, took a leave of absence while he was working on COVID testing.
Scott said that Father’s Day, which is on Sunday, will definitely be a more subdued celebration this year because of the pandemic — no meals out or long trips.
It has also been eye-opening for Scott to be involved in something of national importance. The family has discussed the pandemic around the dinner table just as they have the current civil rights situation.
“In reality, this is the most important thing I have ever done for society. I’ve done drug testing for sports, even at the Olympic level, but this ― at the end of the day ― is very different than dealing with sports,” he said.
Thorston Hoins, a divorced dad, shares custody of his 9-year-old son on a 50-50 basis.
“I love everything about fatherhood. We walk to school every day instead of riding so we have more time to talk,” he said.
The pandemic enabled Hoins, an entrepreneur who has lived in South Pasadena for six years, to spend more time with his son than usual.
“I like for him to be there with me when I work,” Hoins said. “It is too quiet when he’s not there. That is when my mood tends to be lower.”
Hoins also helped raise two stepchildren, who are in their 20s and out on their own.
Clay Wilkinson doesn’t have to worry about it being quiet in his home. He’s got four children, ages 7, 5, 3 and 1.
This year, for Father’s Day, he plans to put on a piece of paper one word that would describe each child.
Alexander — Pride; Chase — Joy; Scarlet — Spirit; and Cora — Heart.
“Fatherhood is an exercise in humility. It forces you to grow up,” said the 40-year-old Wilkinson, who lives with his family in Glendale but goes to church at St. James’ Episcopal Church in South Pasadena. “It teaches you a lot about what you don’t know and you find out that’s a lot.
“Kids ask a lot of questions and a lot of times there are no good answers and a lot of times they ask big questions like ‘Is Jesus God?’ or ‘How does electricity work?’”
Wilkinson worked at home for more than six years as a civil attorney; and his wife is a nurse practitioner. He has since changed jobs and is working at an office.
“I could spend eight hours a day watching a baby,” said Wilkinson, whose first job was in South Pasadena. “It is such a special time. People talked to me about these times being long hours, and short days. Everyone who told me that proved to be right.”
One of the things he’s learned as a father is that you never give up.
“That’s valuable,” he said. “You tell one of the children not to hang seven feet off the ground on the monkey bars and they do it anyway. You have to be patient.”
His own father, James, is 72, and Wilkinson called him a “role model of consistency and work ethic.”
“He has always respected other people as professionally as possible,” said Wilkinson, whose father served in Vietnam as an infantryman.
Later, during his civilian life, he worked and was gone a lot. “Everything he did was for my mom and me,” he said.