Today’s Throwback is back to the long ago year 2014. And the anecdote it refers to is from 2011! It’s all about how being a Stay at Home Dad was made extra stressful by the insistence on treating caregiving Moms more respect than caregiving Dad’s. Just let me do my job people…
Let me set the stage. Each year the kindergartners through 3rd graders put on elaborate (for little kids) performances. With singing and dancing, the kids get a chance to really show off the “performing” part of their education. It is a scrumptiously cute production every year and only slightly painful to sit through. As the Schmoo’s first year of big kid school approached its end, she grew more and more excited. She practiced her one line over and over. She sang her little songs ad nauseum. She was adorable.
When the fateful date arrived, we ran into one little hitch. The Girl had a work-related obligation (details are hazy as to whether she was busy at the office or on a business trip to India . . . it was 3 years ago), which meant I had to fly solo to the big shindig. No problem, said the utterly confident SAHD. Get the Grommet (still under factory warranty at this point) in the stroller. Bribe the Peanut with fruit snacks to settle down. Make sure the Schmoo is in the right clothes. Arrange to meet the Nana at the school. Get there early. Check, check, check and check! Everything appears to be going according to plan. Thirty minutes to showtime as I and the rest of the family wait in the hallway outside the dance classroom, checking the iPhone to make sure Nana isn’t lost, I hear a familiar crying. It’s not the Grommet (who is asleep) or the Peanut (who is running around in circles). It is definitely the Schmoo. Parent reflexes kicking in, I grab the Peanut, tell her to watch her little brother for a moment, and go to check on my big kid. And at the door I am rebuffed. A volunteer, not even a teacher, informs me that only mothers are allowed in the “dressing room.”
“But I can hear my kid crying. She’s obviously scared, probably just stage fright,” I respond reasonably.
“I’m sorry, but moms only in the dressing room”
“It’s not even a dressing room, it’s the Dance Classroom, I’ve been in there before. . . . C’mon, she just needs a hug. It’ll take a minute.”
“Tell me your child’s name and I’ll send her out.”
At this point I was beginning to become a bit upset. I gave her the Schmoo’s name and waited at the door, craning my neck to see if I could catch the kid’s eye. I heard the crying get worse, not surprising me at all because if there’s anything that I can depend on, it is for the #1 kid to get incredibly anxious if she feels like she has done something wrong. And having a stranger talking to her at that point was the worst thing we could do. Finally, with the other two kids losing patience/gaining consciousness I was able to flag down her actual teacher, who while sympathetic to my plight once again insisted on the Moms Only rule. She was able to coax the upset five-year-old out into the hallway, where a hug and some reassurance from Dad was all she needed to brighten up. Crisis averted just as my mom arrived. We trundled into the auditorium, and the rest of the show went off without a hitch. All’s well that ends well, . . . right?
The other explanation is a bit more troubling. Sex crimes against children are nothing to take lightly. Child molester, child pornographer, these are amongst the worst crimes in our national imagination. We have a National Sex Offender registry at the FBI. And politicians eager to look tough on crime have no problem crafting draconian laws that make those on such a registry’s lives a living hell. I’ll go into this phenomenon in more depth at a later date, but for now I’d like to propose that in the frenzy to protect our kids from lurking predators, we have created a paranoid climate of mistrust. Combined with a zeal for zero tolerance, we put our schools and other child-oriented institutions in the position of being suspicious of all men. In just my own experience I have twice been approached by park staff and questioned as to why I was taking pictures of kids at the playground. My kids! Which I had to prove by showing the concerned park ranger all the pix I had taken of them at other playgrounds. (To be fair, this isn’t just on my iPhone; as a fairly serious enthusiast, I have a camera getup that can look a little intimidating.)
Check it out over at Grounded Parents, every click gets us closer to getting this dog an all expense paid trip to Amsterdam!
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