I Don't Have a D*%#, but I Went to "Donuts with Daddies"

It was time to open wide for a big 'ol doughy, donut, and stick my dick in between my legs.  Or rather, get it out, and wave it proudly around like a helicopter.  I hadn't decided yet.  But this morning I pondered the position of my fictitious dick on the way to "Donuts with Daddies."

I walk into the school entrance feeling a bit jittery.  How will I be received?  I purposely didn’t tell the pre-school teacher I was coming, because I didn’t want to be told I couldn’t attend in my husband’s place.  

I mentally shake my head at myself…..still such a rebel.  Even decades after teenager-dom.

The front desk woman smiles warmly as I grabbed the pen to sign in, and asks, “What brings you in today?”

I ink my name nervously on the sign-in sheet.

I turn to her, “I’m here for Donuts with Daddies.”

She smiles, “Oh,” sounding pithy, with a high-pitched intonation on the end.

The woman swiftly turns around suddenly looking very busy at her desk.

I feel like I’m in an episode of 'Modern Family.'  I’m hoping that during this episode, Cameron will pop out from behind the closed doors, overly-bubbly, and excited and announce that he is in fact, the “ROOM MOM.”  I was so damn disappointed when that didn’t happen.  My nerves coulda used a laugh.

Why was I so twitchy? 

You’re a mom.  You’re also a dad when your husband is away.  So buck up bitch and show these parents and teachers what you’re made of - balls (and boobs) of steel!

Attending "Donuts with Daddies" was more than just a statement for me.  I knew I had to be there for my kid. I reasoned, it would be worse for my daughter to have no one show up to the big donut party.

My worst nightmare played like a movie reel in my head.

Cue the dreamy harp music, and wavy camera effects.....

I imagined my 3-year old daughter looking longingly as the daddies entered the classroom and hugged their children.  Her hands clasped together, standing so sadly, so pitifully, alone.  She stares at the classroom door one second more. Hoping her knight in shining armor will come sashaying through.  When he doesn’t, she retreats to her place at the snack table with profound disappointment.  The kind of disappointment that kids don’t ever forget.  A life-long emotional blow, ingrained in her mind forever.

Nightmare over.  Or, is it just beginning?  Time to get serious.

As I wait with the dads, I start to sweat, my heart is quickening.  I have a second pep-talk with myself.

Okay, calm the fuck down.  Why in a room full of cocks, do I suddenly coil?  I say that endearingly.  I need to be secure in my stance.  I don’t care how many side-eyes I get.  Stay calm and confident.  I’m Daddy too, when he’s away dammit.

Hardly, groundbreaking stuff.  But under the glare of conventional parents who are married, visibly middle-class and running heterosexual households – I feel small and stupid for trying to make such a statement.

I’m angered by the assumptions, and biases loaded into the celebration, “Donuts with Daddies.”

Why can’t it be Popsicles with Parents?

What if the child isn’t being raised by a parent – through death, divorce, etc.?  Fig Newton’s with Family?  What if the child isn’t being raised by a blood relative, a family member?

What do same-sex parents do?

Do gay dads sign up to be a “Room Mom” and does one of them attend "Muffins with Mommies?"  Or do they grab a female family member?  Do they even think about it, and analyze it, as much as I am right now?  Is it more second nature for a same sex couple to improvise in these situations?

The receptionist checks off all of the "daddies" on her list, then escorts us back to the classroom.

I lead the way.  I stand in the doorway, slightly shaky. 

My little girl sees me.  Her face shows confusion.  But within a half a second, she smiles widely.  I see her mouth to her friends – My mommy’s here.  My mommy’s here! 

I can hear her little, sing-songy voice faintly over the quiet chatter.  She’s surprised and perplexed simultaneously.  My facial muscles start to twitch uncontrollably.  I feel like crying, because I realize in that moment – that while my daughter looks happy, maybe there's a twinge of disappointment.  Disappointment that it’s me standing in the doorway – and not her daddy.

In unison the children on the count of three shout “Happy Father’s Day!!!!!”

I stand there with my cell phone, recording the video for my husband to watch while on his business trip. 

My daughter hops away from her classmates, and beams up at me. She grabs my hand and leads me to a beautifully decorated table with a blue table cloth, Father’s Day gifts, juice, donuts and flowers.

I kneel down and give my daughter a huge hug and kiss.  She doesn’t ask me where daddy is.

I ask, “Where’s your spot? Where’s your gift for daddy?”

She pulls out a small, child-size seat for me –and sits down in the mini-seat next to me.  There is a Father’s Day card and a wrapped gift placed in “daddy’s” spot. 

She tells me, “I’ll open the gift for daddy.” 

My daughter carefully removes the blue ribbon and tears the tissue paper away.  It is a paintbrush with little fingerprints painted on it.  The fingerprints formed into tiny blue bugs, crawling up the paintbrush. 

I tell her, “Let’s take a picture of the gift, and send it to daddy.”

She poses, proudly grinning, one hand holding up the paintbrush, the other hand on her hip.

Together, we read the card she made, How old is Daddy?  17-years old.  How much does Daddy weigh?  50 pounds.

“Do you think daddy will like it?  See, he can go like this with the paint brush!”

She makes paint strokes on the table.

“You’ll have to show him how to do it when he gets back.”

“When will daddy get back?”

Normally, I dread this question.

A) My husband is usually gone for really long periods of time.  Sometimes several weeks or months.
B)  Kids have no concept of time

Today, it’s not so bad.  After being gone for two months, he’ll be back home in four days.

“Daddy will be back in four days.  I’ll bring the gifts home to keep them safe for him.”

I realize now, that I'm at ease.  My nerves have died down.

Why do conventional traditions make me feel so uncomfortable?  And, let’s be real - for the most part, I have a pretty conventional set up here.  My husband travels for work a lot, and is barely home.  Boo hoo, right?  We’re married, middle-class, living in suburbia with our two kids.  On paper, we’re the picture of cultural “norm.”

But what do people with an unconventional family life do?

For “Muffins with Mommy” – does one of the mommies from a same sex couple attend, or both?  Does grandma attend because mommy died?  Does Aunt so-and-so attend because mommy is in drug rehab?  Does mommy’s best friend attend because mommy’s at work?

For “Donuts with Daddy” – does one of the daddies from a same sex couple attend, or both?  Does Grandpa come because daddy died?  Does Uncle so-and-so attend because daddy is incarcerated?  Or sick, in the hospital, with cancer?

I know these celebrations are meant to make everyone feel good, but they can also make a lot of kids feel really bad.  Given constant reminders – that the person the children are celebrating – are NOT there.  That, they can’t come.  Or the constant reminder – that their family is the dreaded word….different.

I don’t know what was going through my daughter’s head when she got to school and learned it was Donuts with Daddies day.  Did she think daddy was going to miraculously fly home and surprise her?  Or, did she think no one would show up? 

I did the only thing I could think of to lessen the blow.  Lessen the disappointment.  The sadness.  And stand up, for our own "norm."

Am I letting her live in a bubble of rainbows, unicorns and lollipops by trying to swoop in and save the Donuts with Daddies Day?  Mostly no.  I will cop to a little coddling here and there (she’s the second child after all).  Sure, there will be plenty of disappointments.  I tell my children when I can’t be present for school functions – and believe me, there are a lot of school functions I can’t attend.   I explain, mommy has to work, daddy is out of town.  And they nod, and go on with life.  That’s our reality.

But today, I woke up early – like two hours early – 5AM to be exact, to get my work done.  I wasn’t ready to let reality hit my kid that hard.

At the end of donuts, my daughter asks, “Are you pretending to be daddy today?”

“Yes, I’m pretending.”

She laughs and says, “Daddy doesn’t wear earrings! Take your earrings off – then you’ll be like daddy.”

A nice reminder that I can be a place-holder for daddy, but never a replacement.

What do you think of these parties/celebrations?  Harmless fun, or accidentally harmful?

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