My husband took our youngest child to kindergarten orientation one morning this week. He came home with a folder full of learning materials and a very excited little boy. He also came home with a story that’s become a minor source of irritation for us. It wasn’t even a story that upset him particularly – more a little resigned aside about people that still haven’t figured it out.
He’s been a stay-at-home dad for four years now. While he does run a business out of our home, his primary focus is on the kids. Before that, he worked in a nearby town and almost all matters pertaining to the kids such as drop-off and pick-up or school functions fell to me. Now they are all his. He doesn’t do it the same as I would and I sometimes feel left out, but he does a good job.
He gets them to school each morning. He picks the oldest two up from school and shuttles them to any after school activities. He’s the one who first hears how the day went. He’s the one to run stuff back up to the school when they forget. He attends their music lessons at school. He’s the one that would help with class parties or presentations, etc. If anyone was interested, that is.
And so off to kindergarten orientation he went, with his kid and about 30 or 40 adults with their kids. At one point in the proceedings, the PTA President stood up to speak. She was our middle child’s Pre-K teacher some five years ago.
“She kept going on about Home Room Moms and about how we need people to step up to be Head Home Room Moms and I was just thinking, ‘Really?’ I mean, about a third of the adults in that room were men,” he said.
My husband is a very helpful and involved guy. He is. But if you make it clear you are after moms, you’ve lost his help. He shrugs you off and decides that you aren’t interested in his help. And why shouldn’t he?
If the roles were reversed and some guy was actively requesting help from men when it was something you could do, would be willing to do, would love to do? I can already hear the indignant outcry from the feminist quarters!
My husband is a feminist. A true one, in my humble opinion. One who recognizes that feminism is about giving everyone a level playing field, about making opportunities available to everyone. About not treating people differently because of their gender when gender, quite frankly, is irrelevant to the situation at hand.
Some men would push their way in, just like the women of old did. They’d defiantly sign up anyway. They’d push the issue. My husband’s perspective is this: I’ve got plenty to do and they are the ones asking for help. If they can’t figure out on their own that they are missing out on a source of help… not my problem.
Some people have figured it out, at least on a semantics level. Over the years, we’ve attended many a Meet-The-Teacher night. There’s always a sign-up sheet for people interesting in helping with the PTA’s involvement in that room. If the sheet says Home Room Moms, we move on – me included. If it says Home Room Parents, he puts down his name.
Now… progress is slow, to be sure. He’s put his name down a time or two, but I don’t know that he’s ever been contacted. But I think that’s more a matter of small-town cliquish behavior than anything. Or perhaps the use of “Home Room Parent” was simply an attempt at political correctness and they weren’t sure what to do once a man actually did sign up. Baby steps, I guess.
Then again. This is 2014. A third of those adults at Kindergarten Orientation were men. A third of them! There are men stepping up to the parenting table all across this country and some people still haven’t noticed.