I come before you a changed man.
To be honest, I was unconvinced by the message I heard two years ago when Adelaide rolled into the 2s, the gushes praising the invaluable parent community at SSDS and foretelling that I would make friends for life with every other bleary-eyed baby-schlepper in the parking lot.
Is this a dad thing? I’m not sure; I just remember worrying that Adrianne would drive herself crazy trying to compete with other moms, and that the prospect of comparing notes with all the seemingly less stressed and more put-together daycare veterans was maybe not this sure-you-can-eat-that-off-the-floor-kind-of-dad’s cup of tea. Oh yeah, and the emails! I got so many friendly emails from folks that seemed to know exactly what they were doing that I felt hopelessly behind before school even started!
My transformation was gradual. I think anybody who drops off or picks up their kids at SSDS is changed by that poetic and beautiful routine—everybody’s rat race pauses at the same little church and for a few moments we’re all our best selves, saying hello to our fellow villagers and being exactly where we need to be to do right by those we love most. Each child you pass is their own unique kind of adorable, and for a precious stretch of time all the quirks of their day make us all forget the heaping tower of obligations that reappear when we pull out. I saw other parents and grandparents and nannies take that same solace; I could feel that this was among the highlights of their day too.
And then I co-oped. Hoo-boy, did I co-op. Folks, co-oping is the bee’s knees. Slowly, I became part of the SSDS scene just by showing up and watching Adelaide grow and interacting with the other incredible kids—I couldn’t help but absorb some of all the love that seems like it’s part of the air inside SSDS. Kids started recognizing “Mr. Tom!” The staff was so encouraging and warm and cared so much about Adelaide and now Elijah—it was like I turned around one day and my family had multiplied.
And what really made that happen was the other parents. I quickly learned what should have been obvious: anybody who has raised a little hurricane long and well enough to bring them to that church, and somehow made sure they got there in time for pickup, or remembered their special whatsit or wrote their name on each piece of everything clearly has a LOT more in common with me and each other than just about anybody on the planet. This is our life playing out! Our offspring just magically growing smarter and bigger, and we’re all doing it together. No matter where we commute from or are headed to afterwards, we’re all compelled by the same most basic and powerful of emotions: love for our kids.
And so it was revealed, and dozens of birthday parties and quick staircase chats and date nights and play dates later, I’m sold. I’m always glad when I say “yes,” when I learn something new about a parent or their tike(s) or a teacher or staff member; when I let myself be absorbed just a little deeper into this crazy endeavor we’re all on.
So my advice is to dive in. Maybe RSVP “yes” to that thing next weekend and just figure out how to make it happen. Maybe ask that one quiet grandparent waiting next to you in the hall, “how’ve you been?” The odds are she won’t be as quiet, and her answer is what keeps the joy spreading.
And if you’re an unconvinced, busy or new SSDS Dad, just trust me, it doesn’t take much. I mean, a Daddy’s Night Out? (DNO) If all I have to do is accept a great excuse to go out and have fun, I’m there.
~ By Tom Johnson, Dad to Adelaide (Ms. Veronica’s 4’s) and Elijah (Ms. Ylla’s 2’s)
SAVE THE DATE!
DAD’S NIGHT OUT is THURS NOV 12, 7:30PM