So here’s a question I was asking my wife the other day: Is it weirder that I am often the only Dad at things, or is it weirder that I don’t think it’s weird? Because on the one hand, I am consistently seeing more Dads involved in things like pick-up or drop-off of kids, or in national television commercials like this one, so it’s pretty weird that when it comes to the major events like field trips and the like, I am frequently the only Dad there. On the other hand, given that I ought to expect more Dads to show up for these things, it’s extremely weird that I do not find that first bit weird at all.
As much progress as we Dads have made in the parental perception category, I would be shocked, shocked, to see another Dad on a field trip like the one I was on this past Monday. And actually, you know what, that’s not true. I would probably just smile and say hello and continue trying to get the horde of 8-year-olds to pay attention to something. It wouldn’t be weird for other Dads to come at all. But it is also not weird to not see them either. I walked into the classroom on Monday morning as one of 17 chaperones, and the only other male person there was Mr. Mike, the para-educator. And I was not surprised. I did not find it weird. I settled in with the Moms as if it was only natural for me to be the only Dad participating. I mean, come on people, men have jobs, don’t you know?
But why should I find that normal? At Ruby’s classroom play this morning (which was hilarious, by the way. You haven’t seen “Sleeping Beauty” until you’ve seen it done by 2nd graders…) there were mostly Moms, yes, but there were also at least two or three other Dads. I know these Dads. I see them at pick-up and drop-off. I see them running birthday parties and out shopping with their kids. I see them at after school activities, walking their kids to soccer or climbing or dance. These are modern, involved Dads! They are great guys! So isn’t it a little bit weird that out of all those chaperones, I was the only Dad?!
I do want to say that one experience does not a pattern make, so I can assure you that, over the past few years, I have been on every single field trip possible. There was one (1!) I could not make because I had to work. And I understand having to work. Moms have to work. Dads have to work. One of my co-group chaperones on Monday spent almost the entire trip outside, talking on her phone. I can only assume that this was because she was taking time off from work to come, but some emergency had come up. Either that or she was super upset about Sunday night’s Game of Thrones like everybody else, and really needed to talk about it. But yes, I cannot fault these Dads for not volunteering at one specific field trip. I don’t know their schedules or their lives. But I can tell you that, except for the one, I have been on every other field trip for the past four years, and I have never seen another Dad there. Which is pretty weird, right? And even weirder, I didn’t think it was weird at all.
This is not to say that you personally must start chaperoning field trips if you are a Dad. This is just to say, lets keep moving forward towards the place where, if there does happen to be an event scheduled where all the Dads are busy, it would strike each and every one of us as just a little bit odd.