Over the past year I’ve taking my younger son, Jamie, to the local Jewish community center for a ‘Mommy and Me’ class. Being the only dad present has never troubled me. Everyone is friendly and respectful. Sure, the moms feel more comfortable with asking each other out for lunch, etc, but what’s important is that my son have the benefit of the class.
As for the name of the group, I have shared my preference for altering it. Why not change it to ‘Parent and Me’ or ‘Toddler and Me’ – something a little more inclusive. The response was that adjusting it from the generic ‘Mommy and Me’ confused people as to what the class was about as it’s such an ingrained term. While I didn’t agree with this, making waves in an otherwise friendly environment didn’t seem appropriate. I don’t consider myself to be a militant dad, just one who would like to see things be more equitable and inclusive from all sides of the parental spectrum.
This morning, however, something interesting happened. At morning snack, the teacher brought up, specifically for my attention, an article that had just come out in the local paper about another ‘Mommy and Me’ class in the area. When a dad, who had a day off from work, arrived to this other class with his excited daughter and wife, the teacher brazenly informed them that the dad would need to leave as this was a mom’s only class and the ‘daddy and me’ class was on Saturdays. He was asked to wait at a nearby coffee shop until the class’s conclusion, which he did. His wife was so upset by this that she wrote the editorial letter (unfortunately, the paper’s link does not work.)
Anyway, the teacher of my son’s class asked how I felt about being there and I reassured her that, while I would prefer a different title to the class, it wasn’t really a problem for me.
After the class had ended, the woman who runs the whole nursery school program approached me as well. She was greatly irked by this article as well and it had made her aware of how exclusive the ‘Mommy and Me’ moniker really is. So, now it’s going to be changed.
What I get from all of this is the extent to which things really do not change unless someone decides to take a stand. Too often dads (and moms, too) just continue in lock-step when moments like these arise. One can only imagine how many other dads have been discouraged away from this other ‘Mommy and Me’ class and things like this will keep happening until people make a fuss. If change is going to happen quicker regarding the way dads are treated at work and elsewhere, they are going to need to step up to the plate and demand it. Otherwise, dads can continue keep going lock-step to the coffee shop when it comes to getting connected with their family.