Our society has a lot of nice things to say about dads who seem particularly "active" in their parenting responsibilities. By active, of course, I mean they participate in an equal way to their mom counterparts. One of the areas of parenting where this is especially pronounced is at school. There's a lot of BS things people say about dads who do pick ups and drop offs, even though moms do basically the same thing without any kind of acknowledgement. Ugh.
My partner handles drop off most days of the week, mostly because it works with his schedule. He also loves doing it, and it has become one of the highlights of his day. Usually it's one of the only times he gets to see the kids during the week days, because he often works late at night and doesn't come home until after their bed time. We have a system and this is the one that works best for all of us, as a family. I often hear a lot of praise heaped his way because of his morning drop off routine – from other moms and, sometimes, even other dads. I do drop off and pick up several days a week, too, but no one throws me a party for it.
Now, I'll admit I'm pretty guilty, too. This one dad at my younger son's preschool is often the one to do drop off and pick up with his kid. When I first saw him, I was like, "Wow, what a great dad!" I even told my mom friends about this magical unicorn of a guy who is so dedicated to his child simply by being present. Yes, he is a wonderful father from what I've gathered, but why did my brain single him out as a wonderful parent just because he is a dad picking his kid up from school? I guess we go to the "thing that is not like the others" and, in the sea of moms working their you-know-whats off every day, it's sometimes easy to find the few dads and shower them in praise. In a perfect world we'd spread positive vibes around to all the parents out there being awesome (moms and dads alike), but the world isn't perfect. Maybe we can get there. Eventually.
In the meantime, here's some of the BS about dads that I'd love to hear less of, unless it is followed up by some big ups to the moms out there doing the same exact thing their male counterparts are being praised for.
"He's So Involved"
People look at the dad dropping his kids off or doing pick up, and immediately fall over themselves to praise him on how "involved" he is in his kid's lives.
Yes, it's totally great when dads take an active role in co-parenting and dividing the every day responsibilities of caring for children. But isn't that, like, the job? I think that's engrained into the whole "responsibilities of parenting" thing. Plus, look around at all the "involved" moms who also showed up at drop off. Anyone giving them credit? Most likely no, because this is the norm and this is what we expect in a society still dominated by outdated gender stereotypes. The dad at pickup or drop off is the outliner, and therefore, deserves a round of applause.
"It's So Cute How He Kisses The Kids Goodbye"
When a dad plants a kiss on his kid's cheek before saying goodbye at preschool, you might hear a collective "awwww" from the teachers and other moms around you. Yes, moms: we are part of the problem, too. When we see a grown-ass man doing something sweet with his child, we almost can't help but emote.
When I do drop off with my preschooler, I kiss him and hug him and basically cuddle the poor kid, because I miss when he's at school. Do I hear a single, "Awww?" Nope.
"He Really Looks Put Together In The Mornings"
Many parents on the way to morning drop-off happen to be doing so en route to work. Those parents obviously have to put a little more effort in the presentation department before leaving the house, as opposed to those of us (ahem, freelance writers like me) who may not need to be quite as presentable on the job. WhileI do believe that women who get dressed for work do get some props at the drop-off scene, they don't receive the ticker-tape parades well-dressed dads enjoy.
I happen to be married to a very well-dressed man. So much so, that other fathers have made it a point to tell me at school functions how much they like my husband's style or appreciate his look. Honestly, I'm proud of the effort my husband puts into his wardrobe. But I also know that if I were to make the same amount of effort at drop off or pick up at school, very few people would even notice.
"It's So Great That He's Such A Consistent Presence In His Kid's Lives"
Ugh. Well, yeah. Shouldn't he be? He's a dad. He's half of the parent unit. I would hope that there would be some consistency in his presence, unless, you know, he lived on the moon or something. Moms do not get commended for being "consistent" when they bring their kids to school in the morning. Consistently late or consistently on time, maybe, but there's no grand ceremony for the moms who show up for her kids every day. None.
"He Seems So Organized"
For some reason it is always such a surprise to people when a dad has the capacity to do all the things. If a dad manages to pick up a kid from school without forgetting the socks that may have been removed during play time on the rug, or that pacifier that the kid will have a meltdown about if its left behind at school, it's like, "Oh my god. All hail Dad." You guys, moms do this jazz all day every damn day.
"Wow. He Is Such A Loving Parent."
This could not be more infuriating to hear, or more condescending to dads, even. Why would the act of dropping off your child at school single out this one parent as being "more loving" than any other parent who, say, doesn't do drop off? What if this is just part of the routine that works for this parent? Why don't we say this about all the moms who show up every day at school? Or (and prepare for your mind to be blown): What if there is a dad at home who you don't see, taking care of another child while the mom drops off a kid at school?
"I'm Amazed He Even Remembers To Pack A Snack At Pickup!"
Idiot Dad Alert! Idiot Dad Alert! We still lose our minds when a father crushes the stereotype of being a bumbling idiot who can't remember to dress the baby in a winter jacket and not just a onesie when it is below zero outside.
The other day at preschool pickup my son's classmate was happily enjoying an amazing looking lunch that his dad had prepared for him: hard boiled egg, carrots, celery, a pasta salad, and avocados. My first thought was, "Wow! I can't believe he thought to make such a nice lunch for his kid!" Then I wanted to kick myself because a) my husband would have done the same if tasked with the responsibility of making our child lunch, since he always makes lovely lunches when asked, and b) why the hell wouldn't this kid's dad prepare a nice lunch for his kid?
"You're So Lucky"
Ugh. Eyeroll. I mean, yes? I know? But we both are. I'm lucky in that I found a partner who shares my philosophy on parenting in which we each have responsibilities that are meaningful to us and helpful to each other.
Are people going up to all the dads who are partnered with the moms doing drop off and pickup and telling them how lucky they are? Yeah. Didn't think so.