This morning my daughter, now in fifth grade, informed me that tomorrow is “Donuts for Dads” day at school. I will pause a moment to allow for the collective “Uhhhh.”
I was taken a little by surprise because normally I’m on top of this. The reason being, it’s not really about having your dad come by your school and seeing your class. It’s really about getting your dad to come by school and, “Oh by the way we’re having our book fair so why don’t you grab a donut and head over and buy some books.”
And I love to read and have always wholeheartedly supported my kids’ desire to read.
The principal usually sends out an email to remind us all, but either she didn’t this year, or I’ve started ignoring her email after her last ridiculous-fest where she tried to play off her stealing two “learn from home” school days and forcing kids to come to school instead, calling it an “Opportunity.” I called her on her Public Relations-like bullshit, accusing her and the PTA of catering to the needs of the few (for the free meals) and ignoring the will of the many who would rather give their kids a break and let them be home a couple of extra days. She wasn’t thrilled with my rebuttal.
But, I’ve never really minded the book fair; though, I could do without the donuts. For one, I never eat one. But more importantly, it’s a bunch of guys, all dressed and ready for work, standing around a classroom that took all of two minutes to take in, killing time before the bell rings and we can all escape away to our day jobs. And in this day and age, isn’t it just a little sexist? Presumably, it was created as a way to get dads involved because, you know, we’re all NOT involved in our kids’ lives enough and thank GOD the school is making sure we are.
It’s surreal and uncomfortable. And I’m going to miss it terribly.
Of my three children, my daughter is my youngest. This is her last year in elementary school which means a lot of things, not all of them terrible.
On the plus side, it’s the last year I’ll have to walk her to the bus stop at 7am every day. When she moves to middle school, she’ll be able to walk with her older brother to the bus at 8:10. That also frees me up to not get up at 4am to go to the gym in the morning. I’ll be able to stretch it to 5 or 5:30.
But the cons far outweigh the pros. For instance, she normally gets home at 2:45 in the afternoon and since I’ve been working from home for several years, that means that most days I get “me” time with her every day. I know that as she gets older, her desire to do anything with me will wane and I will look back on these times as precious, even as I huff and sigh about having to stop working and walk the 2/10 of a mile up the street to get her every day.
She will be with her older brother one year in middle school, and then he will join HIS older brother in high-school for a year. She will then join him for two years in high-school, and so on and so forth.
And before I know it, she will be my only child still at home, and even shorter still, she’ll be gone.
I will be lost. I imagine I will dive into my work with a zeal I’ve not known for a couple of decades, just to kill time between my kids’ visits. I’m not sure what my wife will do. We aren’t social enough to fill our lives up with other people, which means me puttering around here, falling back on my solitary habits, and her doing…well, I’m not sure what exactly. Probably working as well, and neither of us talking to each other much.
Or maybe, it will be just what our 20-year marriage needs; sparking more “us” time. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll hit the gym at 4:30 tomorrow so I can get to school by 7:15 and hope it’s early enough to get a parking spot. I’ll smile and nod and talk about how great the classroom is. All the while, the Joker’s poem running through my head:
I’m only laughing on the outside; my smile is just skin deep.
If you could see me on the inside; you might join me, for a weep.